Editor’s note: Have you seen the Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? This article appeared in our February-March issue. Subscribe to Dogster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.
Creole cooking, colorful costumes, and … canines? While talk of Mardi Gras might bring to mind images of R-rated Bourbon Street debauchery, we can celebrate the spirit of the New Orleans’ Carnival anytime, anywhere, and even make it a pup-friendly affair (our dogs will likely be better behaved than the Bourbon Street crowd anyway). If you think dogs are more fun than drink specials, check out these tips for channeling Fat Tuesday with a canine companion.
1. Your dog’s party style
Mardi Gras is a popular theme for everything from fundraisers to birthday parties and, no matter what the occasion, one thing is for sure: If they’re calling it Mardi Gras it’s gonna get loud. Well-trained, confident dogs make great Mardi Gras party animals, but if your pup is easily overwhelmed you might want to just keep him home and bake him a dog-friendly king cake instead.
2. Say yes to canine costumes
If your Mardi Gras party doggie-date isn’t one to shy away from attention, encourage his inner exhibitionist by decking him out in traditional Mardi Gras Colors of green, purple, and gold. If you choose to put your dog in a colorful costume, make sure he’s comfortable — no dog wants to be remembered as the one who had to go topless halfway through the night.
3. Don’t hide those eyes
Masks are a traditional part of Fat Tuesday for humans, but they’re not much fun for dogs. When a pooch can’t see properly, Mardi Gras celebrations can become downright scary. Besides, the whole mask tradition is about breaking free from society’s rules, something our dogs (who fart and poop in public) clearly never cared about anyway.
4. Treat your dog like royalty
Garish outfits aren’t the only thing Mardi Gras parties have in common with your high school prom: Both involve the crowning of a King and Queen. When attending a Mardi Gras party with your pooch, ensure it’s your pup who takes the crown — even if you have to trade your beads for votes!
5. Cash in on your dog’s nose for cash
Doubloons are as much a symbol of Mardi Gras as beads are, so it makes sense that coin hunts are a popular party game for would-be Mardi Gras revelers. It also makes sense to bring a dog along to a shiny-object hunt (unless the coins are the chocolate kind). Leave the party a little richer thanks to your adorable wealth-seeking cash detector.
6. Deny your dog an all-day Creole buffet
Unless you work for the New Orleans Sanitation Department, vomit cleanup probably isn’t part of your Mardi Gras plans — so keep an eye on what your dog eats. While po’ boys and gumbo make dogs drool, too much human food can ruin a pup’s good time (and your favorite shoes).
7. Stay hydrated — not hung over
Many humans spend their Mardi Gras sipping on rum-based Hurricane cocktails, but water really should be the official Mardi Gras party beverage for both dogs and people. Keep your dog hydrated by frequently filling his bowl, and keep yourself feeling good by avoiding the Hurricanes (and the people who drink too many of them).
8. Don’t lift your leg
Speaking of hydration, police officers really, really don’t like it when people pee on the street during Mardi Gras celebrations. Your dog might get away with it, but you won’t — and you could end up spending Mardi Gras behind bars in the people pound.
9. Keep bead dogs out of real dogs
It’s a crafty New Orleans tradition — the plastic beads tossed during Mardi Gras can be twisted into the shape of a dog, but they can also twist your dog’s insides if accidentally eaten. If you’ve got a pup who likes to crunch on plastic, make sure your beads stay on your throat and out of his.
10. Throw your own doggie Mardi Gras party
If there’s no pet parade in your city (or your dog just isn’t a fan of big crowds) you can still get your fur family into the spirit by throwing your own shindig. Invite your two- and four-legged friends over for your own private Mardi Gras celebration. You can call it Doggie Gras and insist that all pups flash their bellies before entering. Maybe stick to throwing balls instead of beads, though.