BBQ Safety For Pets

With the hope of some good weather in the coming days you may be planning a BBQ in the garden. Fun as they are for us, they come with potential hazards for your pets.

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Heat Stroke & Sun Burn

If you’re outside enjoying a barbecue, your pets will most likely want to be sociable and be with you too. Remember that dogs and cats will not realise they are getting hot and find shade; they will just be happy to play. This can lead to the very serious condition of Heat Stroke where they simply over heat as they are not adapted to cool down as well as us due to their furry coats.

Signs will include panting heavily, increased respiratory rate and effort, drooling, they will be distressed, incoordination and collapse. This unfortunately can be life threatening. It is important to ensure that you have plenty of shade and cool fresh water available for your pets. Although all breeds are at risk of heat stroke some are more susceptible than others e.g. flat faced breeds

Our pets can get sunburn too if they spend lots of time basking in the sun. Consider applying a pet safe suncream especially on pets with white or pale fur, those with thin or patchy fur and those that have pink skin exposed on their ears, nose or belly.


Burns can occur in a couple of ways: from the BBQ itself, or from eating food straight off the BBQ.

Ensure that your pet is not left unattended outside whilst the BBQ is on, and let it completely cool before you let them anywhere near it.

Similarly, try and stop them from eating food directly from the BBQ to prevent them from burning their mouths. The food smells good to us, so it will also smell good to them (a dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 times better than ours)!

Cooking Utensils

Pets may be tempted to lick clean the food debris on cooing utensils if they are left lying around. Please keep these out of reach, as there is the risk of them cutting their tongues on these.

Lighter Fluid Or Insect Repellents

These are both potentially harmful to pets, as they can cause irritation when they come in contact with skin. They are also toxic if ingested

BBQ Food Hazards

Human Food

BBQ food tends to be a bit fattier than regular, so don’t be tempted to give your pets tidbits. As they are not used to eating this type of food, there is a risk that this could cause gastrointestinal upsets. There is also the possibility that they may lead to the more serious condition of Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Both of these conditions could result in hospitalisation for treatment.

Corn on the Cob

Although not toxic to pets, they are not able to digest the central core and due to its size. This has a very high chance of causing a blockage as it passes through the intestinal system. This will often necessitates a stay in the hospital and surgery to remove the blockage. A procedure not without risk.

Kebab Sticks

These are very appealing to dogs as even if the meat has been eaten, they will still have the smell of the meat. If the sticks are swallowed, they can cause damage to the intestinal system

Onions and Garlic

These are both commonly used in the BBQ season, and are toxic to both dogs and cats (causing anaemia).


These are dangerous in many ways. Cooked bones are more likely to splinter and potentially damage the intestines, and they can get stuck in the mouth, throat or oesophagus. If they do make it into the stomach or intestines they could cause damage and even perforate the intestines or cause a physical blockage


Don’t leave drinks lying around. On a hot day pets may be tempted to lap from an unattended glass. Alcohol is toxic to animals, and will often cause similar signs in pets as we see in humans if we drink too much – incoordination, drooling, vomiting / retching, weakness or collapse


Post-BBQ rubbish provides lots of tempting smells for our pets and no end of potential of hazards many of which have been listed above. There is also the risk of:

  • Your pet eating food packaging
  • If left for a while mouldy food
  • Injuring their mouths from sharp objects


If people bring you flowers or plants remember some of these are toxic and can even be fatal to our pets, so keep out of their reach.

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