Since we first domesticated animals, they’ve served as our guides, guardians, and helpers. A November 2018 Curve article emphasizes how these beloved companions can provide critical support and enhance wellness for LGBTQ people. Given our close bonds with them, it’s no surprise that they’re by our sides at life-changing events like weddings. If your nuptial plans include friends of the furry or scaly variety, remember some useful tips to make your special day both animal-friendly and enjoyable for your guests.
Can Your Wedding Accommodate Your Furry Friends?
As you determine whether your wedding-day vision can include animal companions, the first element you must contemplate is feasibility. Keep in mind that the Americans with Disabilities Act permits service animals in most public, business, and nonprofit facilities. While planning your event, the American Kennel Club suggests that you consider several key factors:
- Potential allergies among guests and staff
- Local ordinances
- Venue and vendor policies
- The animals’ comfort levels
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reveals that around 30 percent of the United States population is allergic to cats, dogs, or both. During the planning stages, make sure you notify your guests and vendors so that affected individuals can plan accordingly.
Next, you should assess whether your companion animals can handle the noise, change in daily routine, crowds, or extra attention that comes with your nuptial celebration. The AKC recommends asking a trusted handler or sitter to keep your friend company and provide food, water, potty access, and intermittent breaks from all the action.
Observe These Vital Safety Tips
A Minnesota Bride article addresses some important legal issues for planning a backyard celebration, but its advice can also apply to pet safety at your venue. The magazine proposes touring the property and looking for natural and manmade hazards such as ponds, holes, or slippery floors. You’ll need to work with your venue to fix any issues or find a way to restrict access to those areas.
Meanwhile, don’t forget to monitor the forecast for your big day. Healthy Paws explains that safe temperatures for dogs usually range between 32 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, but high humidity increases the risk of heat stroke. Cats can tolerate slightly higher temperatures, but don’t underestimate their safety during hot weather. As the mercury rises, watch your pets for telltale symptoms of heat stroke:
- Stumbling or loss of coordination
- Reddened gums
- Excessive panting or heavy breathing
Watch Out for Harmful Foods and Beverages
Food safety issues frequently top the list of wedding-day animal-related concerns. Fido or Fluffy chomping down on your exquisitely decorated cake is bad enough, but they can also get sick from their overindulgence. The ASPCA offers a comprehensive list of food and beverages that may cause harm to your pets, but be aware of several common culprits:
- Raw meat and eggs
- Foods high in salt
Many foods now contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that triggers excessive insulin output in most animals. If your companion ingests any harmful substances or exhibits symptoms such as vomiting, excessive thirst, rapid heart rate, diarrhea, seizures, or an unsteady gait, contact a veterinarian immediately or call the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
A Pet-Friendly Wedding Takes Careful Planning
Many individuals regard their beloved animal companions as trusted friends or part of their families. Whether they’re walking down the aisle as our attendants or serving as service or emotional support animals on your wedding day, ensuring their safety is vital. Once you get the green light to accommodate your four-legged guests of honor, evaluate their sense of comfort and pay attention to potential property, weather, and food hazards that could impact their health, enjoyment, and peace of mind.