Bring on the primal flame because it’s grilling season! The sun is out, beaming through the bright blue sky as white, fluffy clouds lazily pass by. It’s warm, but a slight breeze helps to keep the sweat at bay. As you stand there looking at the flowers blooming brilliantly, an idea strikes: today is perfect for a barbecue. BBQ, cookout, grilling; whichever term you use, they all have a few things in common. However, with a pup bouncing around, it’s best to brush up on barbecue safety with your dog. With the flames and food come some key grilling hazards for dogs.
Whether it’s a full-blown family cookout or simply you and your partner looking forward to a grilled steak, don’t forget to think about your furbaby. In fact, grill safety doesn’t just pertain to you. Plus, many famous cookout dishes are harmful for a dog to get into. Don’t let that keep you from having a great grilling-session though. With the help of our in-depth research and product recommendations, you’ll be all set.
Table of Contents
Dangerous Barbeque Foods for Dogs
1. Bone-In Meats
Anything with a bone lodged in it is going to be extremely harmful for you dog to get ahold of. This includes tasty foods like ribs, chicken wings, pork chops, drumsticks, and certain cuts of beef. Basically, while the meat might not be dangerous for your dog, the bone is bad for them to chew on. Natural bones like this are easy to splinter in the jaws of a dog. The resulting sharp edges and pieces can cause canine mouth damage and code-red digestive track harm. If your dog is stalking you in hopes of grabbing a chicken wing, we suggest treating them to a dog-safe chew instead. We have many articles that pick out wonderful dog chews, but to get you started, check out The Best Dog Chews. These will help satisfy your pup’s craving and keep them occupied while you pass around the grilled meats.
2. Hot Dogs
Hot dogs are harmful for dogs?! It may have never occurred to you that this simple tube of meat byproduct should not be casually tossed to you dog. Although not fatal for your pup to ingest, hot dogs carry a lot of sodium (salt) and are packed to the brim with preservatives. Just like us humans, preservatives and high salt-content are not good for a dog. It will likely mess with their tummy and create diarrhea.
3. Corn on the Cob
Hold on, corn on the cob too? Yes, you heard us, corn on the cob is dangerous for your dog. However, it’s not the corn itself. Rather, it’s the shape and size of the cob that spells trouble. When your pup starts gnawing on the cob, it will easily break apart in large chunks and create a choking hazard.
4. Anything in the Onion Family
Onions, shallots, garlic, scallions; anything is the onion family of foods should not be given to (or stolen from) your dog. These foods smell like a dream when grilled, but they contain compounds that are harmful to a dog’s red blood cells. However, if your dog eats one or two you are probably okay. They would have to eat a large amount for it to have an effect.
While you might not be grilling an avocado, they can easily be found in other favorite summer dishes like guacamole. Avocados contain Persin; a toxic compound to many small animals. It is not as dangerous for dogs to ingest but will ultimately cause distress in their tummy and digestive track.
Grapes are often a staple in summertime fruit salads. If you or one of your cookout guests plans to make a batch of refreshing fruit salad, keep and eye out for the grapes. Particularly, grapes are connected to kidney failure in dogs. Even though some dogs may eat a grape and be perfectly fine, other dogs could eat one and be affected. Therefore, side with caution and don’t let your dog eat any number of grapes.
You all always bound to have some sort of desert at a cookout or barbeque. The high sugar content found in them is not going to pair well with your pup’s tummy. Plus, some desert ingredients are down-right deadly for a dog. Chocolate is the most well-known hazard and should not be given to your furbaby under any circumstance. Even sugar-free chocolate is deadly because of the sugar substitutes used. You can find more in-depth information about the hazards of deserts for dogs in The Health Risks of Dogs Eating Candy. Even though this informative article is geared towards the Halloween season, it’s pact full of useful information on why candies and chocolate are bad for dogs.
8. Alcoholic Drinks
If your having a cookout with friends (or even if it’s just a nice Saturday afternoon), we all know some sort of alcohol is going to play a part. Whether that means a mix-drink, wine, or beer, none of it should be in a location you dog can get to. Yes, that also means immediately dumping orphaned drinks so your pup can’t accidentally take a swig. There are so many reasons why alcohol is bad for your dog, no matter their breed or size. We suggest reading Party Safety with Pups to get further information.
9. Snacking Sides
Sometimes you will have a healthy platter of veggies as a snacking side dish, but we would also bet there is a bag of chips or pretzels laying around somewhere. Just like the hot dog, chips and pretzels contain a lot of salt (way beyond what your dog’s tummy is used to). In fact, too much sodium can lead to ion poisoning for dogs. This can be fatal. In the end, it’s best to keep the chip bags up and away from Fido’s reach.
How Do I Keep my Dog from Eating Cookout Foods?
The natural instincts of your dog will lead them to great-smelling foods like meat and sweets. Even if you have the most well-behaved pup, the hussle and bussle of a cookout could throw their mentality for a loop. In fact, they may end up stealing some food off platters and plates before you even know it. However, keeping you dog locked away inside is only going to cause them to bark and possibly destroy some pillows.
First, make sure to inform any barbecue guests that food should not be given to your dog. Also, mention that any plates of food or leftovers should not be left around randomly. Second, have a trash can out where people can easily find it. Make sure it has a sturdy lid or is tall enough to keep your dog’s nose out of it. The last thing you want to find is a knocked over trash can, and your dog buried in the garbage trying to find potentially hazardous food scraps!
The best possible thing you can do is plan out where and how you are going to store the foods and drinks. Unless a plate is going to be constantly monitored, you will need to keep them out of your dog’s reach. For smaller breeds, this is less of a hassle, but for larger breeds who can easily reach a table, it requires a different approach. If you don’t already have a table high enough to keep food and drinks away from your furbaby, take a look at these two highly-recommended options.
Outdoor Table with Adjustable Height
The Lifetime 4428 Height Adjustable Folding Table will cost you less than $50; which is a lot less-expensive than most outdoor tables on the market. Plus, as an all-purpose table, you will find yourself using it for more than just one occasion. It has powder-coated steel frame and legs with a high-density polyethylene plastic white top. Additionally, the table top has a slight texture to it, so even without a tablecloth, your plates and cups have a better chance of staying put.
The surface of the table is 48” x 24” and will seat four chairs comfortably. However, we love this product for keeping your dog away from food because it has three adjustable heights. Your standard dining room table is probably around 27” tall, which will give you a good comparison. The Lifetime 4428 Height Adjustable Folding Table can be set at 24” tall, 29” tall, or 36” tall. Therefore, even if guests won’t be sitting at a table, you can use it as an easy buffet-style set-up.
You can use the table either indoors or outdoors without any problem. Then, when you are finished, it will fold-up for easy storage. It also includes a carrying handle so that you don’t have to lug the 19lb table around cave-man style.
Food Bowl and Plate Cover
Wegreeco Reusable Bowl Covers comes in a set of three for under $15. This includes a small size that fits a 5” diameter, a medium size that fits an 8” diameter, and a large size that fits a 10” diameter. However, with a self-adjusting elastic rim, the covers can expand or contract by a couple inches.
Although these food bowl and plate covers are originally designed to be a reusable method of storing left-overs, they also make a great option to cover your cookout foods. Whether you have food waiting grill-side for cooking or you have a buffet-style set-up, they will be your best bet for keeping your dog (and bugs) away. Other food covers are flimsy and can easily be knocked off by any dog, but these are sturdy enough to stay put. On the other hand, if your dog is more determined, they may still get into the food.
The Wegreeco Reusable Bowl Cover uses a material that is completely food-safe. They come in four eccentric patterns that are more pleasing to look at than aluminum foil. It’s non-toxic, phthalate-free, lead-free, BPA free, and PVC free. Not to mention, they are fair-trade made! Now that’s something we can get behind. Additionally, they come with a water-resistant lining to keep moisture at bay and makes it that much simpler to clean. Customers say that you can get them to dry easier after washing if you pop it into the dryer.
Grill and Barbecue Safety with Your Dog
Every cookout or BBQ has one common component: grilling. We don’t know about you, but grilled foods have an amazing flavor. Plus, the experience of grilling makes cooking fun and enjoyable. It’s really no wonder why so many people are obsessed with it!
But, with gas, charcoal, open flame, and grease, a good griller always keeps tabs on safety measures. The same considerations should include your household pets. Barbecue safety with a dog around needs to be a priority. In fact, the National Fire Prevention Association recommends keeping pets (and children) at least 3ft away from the grill. That way, if an unexpected flame starts up, everyone is a safe distance away.
Food grease often drips during grilling and that’s why most grills have a grease trap located underneath to catch it. This grease is very harmful for your dog to ingest. Even when the grill is not in use, make sure no food grease has pooled onto the deck. Plus, all your favorite grilling tools are probably made from sturdy metals. Your dog should never be allowed to get a hold of them because their sharp edges are bound to cause canine mouth damage.
For the best safety precautions when grilling with pets around, following these tips:
- Keeps your dog away from the grill by at least 3ft
- Don’t leave a lit grill or open flame unattended
- Keep charcoal fluid and other flammable products away from your dog’s reach
- Make sure your grill has a grease trap located underneath
- Check and dump the grease from the grease trap in a safe location regularly
- Keep grilling tools out of reach from your dog
What to Do If your Dog Gets Burned
It’s your worst fear: the dog gets burned from the grill or open flame. However, panicking will only make your pup get more worked-up than they probably already are. They will be in pain, but you are there to help and, before you know it, the ordeal will be solved. The key is to stay calm and have a plan of attack. These simple steps will lead to success:
- Extinguish any flames.
- Approach you dog with caution. They will be afraid and in pain; therefore, more likely to lash-out.
- Carefully clean the burned area with cold water.
- Lightly cover the burned area with a chemical-free bandage.
- Take your dog to the emergency vet immediately.
There are many hazards for your pet in today’s world. However, the best thing you can do to be prepared is stock up on knowledge. Knowing the steps to safety will help you feel more confident when handling a potential crisis. Even better, we recommend having a dog first aid kit located in the house or car. Dog First Aid Kits You Need to be Prepared covers every detail you need to know and even provides some top-notch dog first aid kits you can purchase.