Unless you live in a cave, it’s highly unlikely you haven’t heard about the wedding of the year. A toast to Harry and Meghan! I have a feeling they’re going to be a lot of pets named after the happy couple.
Indeed, as England is bathed in glorious (unseasonal) sunshine, it’s good news for any bride as the sun shines on the nuptials.
And with an increasing trend for pets being present as page-dogs or cats-of-honor, let’s look at some of the risks involved.
Hazards at a Wedding
The gregarious 4-legger will lap up the attention. However, with the happy couple focused on each other, someone needs to keep a firm eye on the pet to keep them safe.
Assess a wedding for risk from a pet’s perspective, and you’ll find a surprising number of hazards.
1. Flower Bouquets
The bride’s bouquet is usually a beautiful cascade of colorful blooms, contrasting against the white of a bridal gown. Flowers are a traditional part of any wedding, as is the bride tossing the bouquet to guests later in the day.
The cat-loving bride should take care which flowers she chooses. Lilies in particular are highly toxic to felines. And it’s not just the flower but all parts of the bloom, including the pollen. If a cat brushes against the bouquet, becomes dusted in pollen and then grooms it off, the result could be serious kidney failure.
Do your homework and avoid blooms that are toxic to cats and dogs. (Lilies don’t have such serious consequences for dogs; they’ll likely suffer a stomach upset at worst, but even this isn’t desirable on a wedding day.)
If a cat does come into contact with lilies, wash off the pollen immediately. If the cat ingested even a small amount, skip the ceremony and hotfoot it to a vet clinic for urgent treatment.
With guests merry with good cheer and alcohol, it’s all too easy for someone to leave a glass where the dog can reach it.
Alcohol contains ethanol, to which pets are especially sensitive. Plus, their relatively small body size means they don’t need to drink much to suffer the side effects.
- Beer: 3–6% ethanol by volume
- Wine: 10–14%
- Spirits: 20–60%
Thus, Yorkshire Terriers who help themselves to a snifter of brandy could be in big trouble.
Signs of alcohol poisoning start with agitation and excitability. Along with that may come sickness and diarrhea, and then wobbliness and depression.
In pets, alcohol produces profound alterations in blood sugar levels as well as certain electrolytes. This affects the heart rate and ability to breath, with pets lapsing into a coma and dying.
Prevention is the best policy, with all guests made aware not to leave glasses within pets’ reach.
Throwing confetti is a tradition said to bestow wealth and fertility upon the happy couple. These days, confetti can be made for paper, plastic, dried rose petals or rice.
Most confetti is not in itself toxic, but if your dog excitedly hoovers up rice or plastic confetti, there is a risk of it clogging up the intestine and causing a blockage.
4. Wedding Cake
Another tradition is a tiered wedding cake, which is sometimes also a rich fruit cake. This confection is packed full of dried fruits such as raisins, sultanas and currants, which are highly toxic to dogs.
Vine fruits can cause renal failure in dogs, and it doesn’t take much. As little as 11.5 grams of raisins per kilogram of body weight can be fatal. This amounts to a 10-kilogram Corgi eating just over 100 grams of dried fruit to cause serious harm.
The exact mechanism by which raisins damage canine kidneys isn’t’ known. But don’t take the risk. Again, guests must be made aware not to give cake crumbs to the dog, no matter how appealing those puppy dog eyes are.
5. Rich Foods
The wedding banquet is another potential source of angst. Rich foods, especially those high in fat, may trigger pancreatitis in some pets.
The pancreas produces digestive juices that break down fat. Excessive pancreatic stimulation (such as a high-fat snack) can cause a leakage of digestive juice into the tissue of the pancreas itself. In effect, the pancreas digests itself, which is hugely painful and can be serious.
Symptoms include stomach pain, sickness and diarrhea. Again, avoid giving fatty foods to pets.
This dog certainly delivers at her human’s wedding:
6. Sugar-Free Candies and Cookies
If the bride is watching her weight and provides sugar-free goodies for the guests, then don’t feed these to attending pets.
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener used in place of sugar. Unfortunately, it disagrees with pets and causes their blood sugar levels to plummet dangerously low. After eating xylitol, a dog may lapse into a coma within 30–60 minutes.
The toxic dose of xylitol for dogs is around 0.05 grams per kilogram of body weight. Thus, a 10-kilogram Corgi only needs to eat around a half a gram to experience serious effects.
7. Wandering Off
With everyone’s eyes on the blushing bride, don’t let vigilance lapse on what the pets are up to. With lots of strange people milling around and leaving doors open, it’s all too easy for a pet to escape or wander off.
Take heed of these wedding day hazards so that the pets can enjoy the big day along with everyone else. If this all sounds like hard work, then perhaps a rethink is best (i.e., leave the dog and cat safe at home).
This pet health content was written by a veterinarian, Dr. Pippa Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS. It was last reviewed June 22, 2018.