You look forward to a good summer cookout every year, and so does your dog. With those meaty aromas wafting in the fresh outdoors, and friendly people constantly arriving with side dishes and desserts, it’s surely dog heaven. To ensure your dog’s party experience ends on a celebratory note, and not with a trip to Cherry Knolls Veterinary Clinic, check out these five canine cookout hazards.

#1: I’ll take mine medium ruff—dogs and the grill

The grill may be the gathering place, but your dog should always be kept at a safe distance. Hungry dogs cannot resist the temptation to reach for a closer look or taste, leading to burns from the hot grill, spills, or splashes. Dogs can get into trouble if they find the grease trap, because fatty foods can cause acute pancreatitis, a serious condition requiring hospitalization. Also, dogs not only can be burned, but also can cause fires by knocking over small charcoal grills. In addition, in their haste to dine and dash on whatever they can reach, dogs may eat charcoal briquettes and skewers—both of which would likely require surgery.  

Your dog should be kept indoors or otherwise restricted from the grill area any time that the grill is active or cooling. Ideally, station your grill in an area completely inaccessible to your dog. 

#2: Eat this, not that—toxic foods

When every guest brings a dessert or a side, your tables will likely overflow with a smorgasbord of options. Monitor your dog’s behavior to ensure they are not sampling from the buffet when you are not looking. Many common ingredients are toxic to dogs, some of which may be hiding in your neighbor’s culinary contribution. Look out for onions, garlic, grapes, avocados, macadamia nuts, chocolate, and alcohol. If your dog ingests anything suspicious, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

To satisfy your dog’s hunger and reduce their food stealing, feed your dog their regular meal before the party. Prevent gastrointestinal upset from rich or unusual foods by instructing your guests not to feed table scraps—offer dog-safe treats as an alternative. If your dog is a known food thief, confining them until everyone has finished eating may be safer. 

#3: Obstruction of fun—intestinal blockage in dogs

Corn on the cob is a perennial summer cookout favorite, and the perfect size to cause a dog to choke, or to obstruct their small intestines. Corn cobs are a common reason dogs end up in the veterinary emergency room every summer, requiring surgery, which may include removing portions of the intestine, if they are infected or damaged. 

Never give bones of any kind to dogs or cats to chew. Cooked bones can splinter and fragment into shards, lacerating a pet’s mouth, esophagus, and gastrointestinal tract. Bones can also cause blockages in the stomach and intestines, and unlike corn cobs, can pierce the soft tissue lining, causing gastrointestinal contents to flow out and infect the abdominal cavity. Monitor your dog closely at outdoor events, and ensure all trash and food waste is disposed of in lidded trash cans. Unattended or discarded chicken wing remnants are irresistible to a dog. 

#4: Who let the dogs out?—the escapee

Hosting a house or yard full of friends and neighbors can be a joy, but so many people moving in and out makes slipping out of an open door or gate easy for your pet. Many pets go missing during busy home events. Summer time can pose additional threats to wandering pets—late night fireworks can startle a disoriented pet, and send them running farther away, and the warm temperatures can quickly lead a scared, stressed pet spiraling into heatstroke. Take special precautions, like the following, to keep your pet from leaving the party early.

  • Hello, my name is — Your pet should wear a collar and current tags at all times.
  • Name and number? Ensure your pet is microchipped and the chip is registered to your name and phone number.
  • Closed door policy  Remind guests to close doors and gates behind them. Installing auto-closing hinges on fence gates is a great prevention idea. Sometimes the kindest decision is to confine your pet to a crate or a small interior room during the party, especially if they have escaped in the past, or tend to be nervous around new people and busy situations.

#5: Ruff, hot summer—heat safety for pets

Dogs can easily overheat during warm summer temperatures. If they become overexcited by all your visitors and food, a crisis situation can result. Observe your dog for any of these heatstroke warning signs:

  • Excessive panting or drooling
  • Weakness and incoordination
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Collapse

Heatstroke can be fatal, but cooling must be slow and controlled. If your dog shows heatstroke signs, remove them to an indoor location, wet them down with cool—never cold—water, and call us immediately. Prevent heatstroke by always providing plenty of water and shade, and plenty of indoor breaks.

With a watchful eye and a few precautions, your canine companion can safely enjoy a summer cookout. For additional questions about summer safety, or if you are concerned that your pet is showing heatstroke signs, contact Cherry Knolls Veterinary Center