Summer BBQ Safety for Dogs

Summer BBQ Safety for Dogs

family with dog at bbq

It’s officially summer and pets and people alike are bound to be excited by the sights and smells of the season. As pet owners, we often find ourselves contemplating what foods are safe and healthy for our furry companions.


We may also find ourselves in situations where we are monitoring the table scraps friends and family members are feeding our pets. Let us take some of the guess work out of this for you with some of the top summer BBQ hazards for dogs.


While some human foods can be shared with dogs in moderation, there are certain items that pose a significant risk to their well-being.


Common Toxic Foods to Dogs


Corn Cobs

While unbuttered corn kernels are safe for your pet to consume, corn cobs pose a significant risk to your pet’s health. In addition to being a choking hazard, ingesting whole or partially chewed cob can lead to obstructions in the digestive tract, causing severe pain, distress, and can often lead to emergency surgery. Signs of this include lethargy, vomiting, dehydration, and loss of appetite. If you notice any of these signs, or if your pet recently ingested a corn cob, seek veterinary assistance immediately.



Many people might think that bones can be safe for dogs since they are sold at the store, but we are here to tell you they are actually very dangerous. Bones are first and foremost a choking hazard, especially the smaller they get. Bones also splinter when chewed so they can cause damage to your pet’s teeth, gums, and throat.


Bone fragments can also lodge themselves in your pet’s intestines causing irritation, discomfort, vomiting, and partial obstructions.


Fatty Foods

High fat foods such as hotdogs and hamburgers can cause your dog to get an upset stomach if they eat too much. Even though it’s tempting to let your dog in on the BBQ feast, their digestive system will not agree with an excessive amount of greasy and fatty meats.


In addition to avoiding fatty meats, you should also ensure your uncooked meats are secured in a closed cooler, or in the fridge out of dog’s reach until they are ready to cook. Just like with humans, ingesting uncooked meat can give your dog salmonella.


Grapes and Raisins

Fruit platters are a common outdoor gathering dish, make sure to keep your dog away from the grapes and raisins because these can be toxic to their kidneys.


Table scraps

Many friends and family might be trying to be thoughtful and sneak your pet table scraps. It’s always good practice to discourage them from doing this as overfeeding table scraps can cause tummy troubles. Be sure to secure all trash cans with lids and watch for counter surfers too!


Okay, but seriously we’re not here to ruin all the fun. In fact, we want your pet to get in on the festivities and maybe even have a tasty treat.


Here are a few dog-friendly BBQ foods:

  • Frozen watermelon chunks with rind removed
  • Blended banana, peanut butter (xylitol free please) and yogurt frozen into pup cups
  • Grilled sweet potato
  • A frozen Kong with a mixture of cream cheese and baby food (try banana or carrot) hidden inside


Other BBQ Hazards to Dogs

In addition to toxic foods, barbecues and other gatherings can pose other threats to your dog. It’s best to keep these dangers in mind during your event so your furry friends stay safe and happy!


Skewers and Toothpicks

Skewers are great to serve up delicious grilled food, but they are potentially lethal to pets. Just as skewers can pierce through the meat and vegetables they hold, skewers when ingested can puncture and cause severe damage to your pet’s internal organs.


If you suspect that your pet has eaten a skewer, call your veterinarian or PetMedic immediately, the same goes for toothpicks.


Lost Pets

Anytime you’re entertaining or going to a gathering, there is a lot more excitement and chaos than most people’s everyday lives. It’s important to make sure your pet is wearing a collar and is microchipped in case they are accidentally let out. Also, let your guests know that you have a dog ahead of time. If you have a gate, let them know that they should close it immediately after entering to keep the dog in the yard.



Creating a safe place inside for your pet to retreat to if they’re feeling overstimulated is also very important. Making sure pets have access to fresh water is also key to ensure they avoid heatstroke and dehydration.



Hot grills, citronella candles, tiki torches, and bug coils are great for keeping bugs away, but they can pose burn risks to your pet. In addition, many of these items contain deet which is a toxic chemical. If your dog gets deet on their skin, it acts as an irritant and can make them sick. Be sure to watch your pet around these items and make sure your bug repellants are out of dog’s reach!


Remember, a BBQ gathering can be a wonderful opportunity to bond with loved ones, including our pets. By taking precautions and being responsible pet owners, we can ensure that our furry companions stay healthy and happy during these summertime festivities. So, let’s grill safely, protect our pets, and create lasting memories for everyone involved.


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Angelika Demers, CVT

Clinical Supervisor

Angelika started her animal health career in 2014 when she attended the University of Maine Augusta, Bangor campus, for Veterinary Technology. She graduated in early 2018 and became a Certified Veterinary Technician later that year. Her internship, and first veterinary field job, was at the MSPCA Angell in Boston, where she discovered her interest in emergency medicine. Throughout the years, she has continued to advance her knowledge in the field of emergency medicine, but also in cultivating relationships with patients and clients alike to offer the best quality care. Outside of work she likes hanging out with her cat, Mew, spending time outdoors, watching game shows, and photography.