Dogs at Barbecues: Here are 10 expert tips to keep your adorable dog safe at a summer BBQ

A barbecue is a great treat on a hot summer’s day, but comes with a range of hidden dangers for our pet pups.

Luckily the experts from natural dog food retailer Drangonfly Products are on hand to guide you through some of the potential pitfalls of alfresco dining with your pooch.

According to Dragonfly Products Facebook audience, some of the worst things their dogs have eaten at barbecues includes ice lolly sticks, corn on the cob from the kitchen bin, and the full contents of a leftover bin, costing over £4,000 in vet bills.

Laura Lambert, owner of Dragonfly Products, explained: “Summer is the best time of year, for humans and pets alike. But it's crucial that dog owners take extra care of their animals during these months. From extreme heat to allergies and food mishaps to dehydration, there are so many factors that could contribute to a poorly dog in the summer.

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“We recommend being extra vigilant about how your dog acts during the summer months. Ask yourself questions like, are they eating enough? Are they drinking enough? Are they itching too much? Why do they seem tired? Considering these things when you feel like something is off with your pup will ensure you get them the correct care they need. Whether this is a trip to the vets to double-check they’re okay or whether you simply pop to your local canine expert to get tips on what could be getting your pup down.

“Ultimately, dogs should be able to join in on all the summer fun, but it's down to dog parents to do this in a safe and pet-friendly environment.”

Here are the 10 crucial things to look out for while barbecuing this summer.

Lighter fluids

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A few simple tips can make sure both you and your four-legged friend enjoy alfresco eating dining the summer.

To get a barbecue up and running, the chefs of the house need to stock up on lighter fluid to ensure the coals light without a hitch. However, lighter fluid can be detrimental to animals. If a dog ingests or inhales this fluid, it could cause indigestion and burning of the mouth, throat, oesophagus and stomach. This burning sensation can cause vomiting in animals, and worst case, aspiration pneumonia and neurological issues.

If your dog has ingested lighter fluid you should take your pet to your local emergency veterinarian as soon as possible.

BBQ seasoning, rubs, and condiments

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What's a barbecue without a bit of flavour? Unfortunately, dogs can’t experience this same delight, as many of the ingredients in barbecue seasoning, rubs, and condiments can be, at best, irritating or at, worst, toxic to pets. Ingredients such as onion and mustard are commonly found in rubs and seasoning, which can be dangerous to dogs. Condiments such as barbecue sauce can induce stomach issues for dogs due to the acidity and amount of sugar or sweeteners they contain. Avoid giving dogs meat with seasonings, rubs or condiments present - and don't let your pups lick the leftover plates!

BBQ food and meats

Unfortunately for pets prone to pinching leftovers, many popular barbecue favourites are toxic to animals. It’s important to be mindful of which barbecue foods are the most hazardous, including cooked ribs and bones, onions, avocado, and corn on the cob.

Katja Londa, Dragonfly Products’ advisory veterinarian, explained: “The worst barbecue related issues I’ve seen, hands down, is corn on the cob stuck in a dog's intestines. This happens a lot and is very serious. The hard core of the cob gets firmly wedged in the intestines, and not only causes a blockage, but due to the pressure on the intestinal wall, it can stop the blood supply to this area.

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“I’ve removed several corn cobs where I also had to remove a part of the intestine. Luckily my patients all did well, but this could have easily led to severe infections including death. Corn on the cob is closely followed by shards of bone stuck in the intestines. This also happens a lot and causes similar problems.”

If your dog consumes corn on the cob or sharp meat bones, visit your local vet for immediate assistance.

BBQ utensils

From long forks to meat thermometers, barbecue utensils are often sharp and could cause harm to your pet if they get hold of them. Dogs could be particularly interested in such utensils if they have a remnant of meat flavouring. It’s a good plan to buy a barbecue utensil holder to ensure they are stored safely and out of reach of pets.

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Meat skewers

Like barbecue utensils, meat skewers could be detrimental to pets, especially if they attempt to swallow the skewer. A wooden or metal stick like this could cause severe damage to a dog's throat, organs and digestive system. Pet owners with greedy pups, watch out and visit your local vets immediately if you think your dog has consumed a meat skewer.

Veterinarian Katja Londa said: “The most dramatic looking injury I have seen was a dog who had swallowed an entire metal skewer. By some miracle, the skewer didn’t damage any organs and could be removed without further damage.”

Make water available throughout the day

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Just like people, dogs must be kept hydrated throughout the day, especially if it's warm outside. Water helps regulate a dog’s body temperature, helps with digestion, and helps manage their waste. Dogs are at greater risk of dehydration than humans because they release little heat from their bodies, and their sweat glands are not adequate for cooling them down quickly. Ensure sufficient water bowls are in the garden during the barbecue.

Create a shaded area

Dogs sometimes find it challenging to cope with hot weather and are more at risk of heat stroke than humans. As a dog's internal temperature rises, it could lead to organ failure. Unfortunately, 1 in 7 dogs taken to the vets with heatstroke die. To help prevent heatstroke, create a shaded outdoor area with a cooling mat for your dog during the barbecue.

Some dogs with a higher chance of developing heatstroke include those who are overweight, have flat faces, are more energetic, are older, have thicker fur, and already have health issues. Breeds include Chow Chows, French Bulldogs, Boxers, Pugs, Springer Spaniels and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

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Inside breaks and sunscreen

Most pets have fur that protects them from sun damage, but dogs are still susceptible to sunburn, especially on exposed areas like their noses, ears, lips, eyelids, and stomach. If you find the sun particularly strong while barbecuing with family and friends, pop the pooch inside and give them a much-needed break from the sun's rays. If your pet is enjoying the summer get-together too much, experts at Dragonfly Products suggest using dog-friendly sunscreen on sensitive areas - yes, even dogs need to protect their skin.

Watch out for dog allergies and hayfever

It’s not just humans liable to hayfever, but dogs can be too. If you are barbecuing in a garden with long grass and grass seed, you might find your dogs start to itch. Itching mixed with feeling too warm can make for an uncomfortable experience for dogs. Pet owners should be responsible for looking out for seasonal allergy symptoms. If you are planning on having a barbecue in the height of summer, double-check the pollen count to ensure it's not too high.

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Provide your dog with a (safe) BBQ banquet

To involve your pet in the fun, provide them with their own barbecue banquet that includes dog-friendly food. Plain meats such as chicken breast and burger meat are suitable for dogs, as long as they are cooked separately from seasoned meats, alongside vegetables such as corn off the cob (with no butter), cucumber, and peppers. If you are a raw feeder, you could shape your dog’s meat into ‘burgers’ and ‘sausages’. Fresh strawberries, blueberries, and dog-friendly ice cream also work as a refreshing treat for your pup.

For all the latest dog news, chat, advice and information, join our Scotsdog Facebook group here

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