BBQ Do's & Don'ts With Your Pet

26 Aug 2019 | Written by Tori Holmes
There’s no better way to spend a summer afternoon than at a BBQ with your closest friends and family – pets included! Before you fire up the grill, take a moment to review some of these BBQ do’s and don’ts.


Keep food away from pets

Human food should always be kept away from pets to avoid gastrointestinal distress, but it is especially important at BBQs. This is because many of the foods commonly brought to BBQs are toxic to pets – namely onions, grapes, and chocolate. To avoid the risk of sneaky consumption of the BBQ treats, keep the pets and food separated throughout the BBQ. Try keeping food indoors if your pet is outdoors or have your pet on a secure leash if they're going to be out around the food.

Provide plenty of frozen treats

Especially on hot days, there's nothing your pet will appreciate more than some cool treats. A great option is to take some pet-friendly fruit and freeze it in a large ice mold. As the ice melts, your pet will be able to fish out a tasty treat. Watermelon is a great choice, as it's low in calories and packed with vitamins A, B6, and C, and potassium. Plus, it's made up of about 92% water, so it's a great choice for hot days when hydration is key.

Plan some pet-friendly activities

In addition to cool treats, it’s never a bad idea to have a few pet-friendly activities planned to keep your pet entertained. A kiddie pool can be a great place for both the four-legged and young two-legged attendees to cool down. To make it more interactive, choose some of your pet’s favorite water-safe toys and throw them in the pool. A mixture of those that float and sink is great, as your pet will have a blast trying to fish them out.

For those extra hot days, consider filling the pool earlier in the day with ice. The melting ice will provide your dog with a consistently cool place to relax – especially if they have thick coats. However, as important as it is for your pet to be entertained, you want to make sure they have a quiet space to escape to. Consider giving them access to a room in the house or a corner of the yard that they can go to if they need a break from the crowds.

BBQ Don’ts

No bones

Giving your pet leftover bones may seem like a harmless treat, but it can be very dangerous. Cooked bones, especially chicken bones, are dry and can splinter and break into small pieces. These pieces post a choking risk to your pet, or if they do get swallowed, cause digestive issues or, in more serious situations, cause a puncture in the digestive tract. While some pets may get lucky and eat bones with no negative consequences, it’s not worth the risk.

Avoid charcoal BBQs

Unlike gas grills, where there's nothing to dump out after you're done cooking, charcoal grills need to be emptied. After use, these coals are covered in the flavors of everything that was cooked on them, making them a very attractive treat to your pet. Unfortunately, if consumed these coal briquettes can get stuck in your pet's digestive system and require surgery to remove or in serious cases, death. Even if the briquettes break down, its ash contains dangerous toxins.

Skip the citronella

Citronella is a natural oil made from citronella grass that is well known for its powers as an insect repellant – you’ve probably had candles, oil products, or insect coils made with it pass through your home at some point. If ingested, citronella can cause stomach upset in mild cases or central nervous system issues in severe cases.

Oil products pose a different risk, and increase your pet’s risk of developing aspiration pneumonia if inhaled. Fortunately, there are a number of great pet-friendly alternatives to citronella, including lemon balm, peppermint, and rosemary. Lemon balm, in particular, is an excellent choice if you want to attract more bees and butterflies to your yard. Plus, peppermint and rosemary can double as herbs for a future BBQ.

Following these BBQ do’s and don’ts will ensure that they’re a hit for two- and four-legged guests alike!

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