7 Pet Safety Tips for Outdoor Barbecues

Published: 5/11/2021
Cookouts are one of the best parts of summer, but these fun get-togethers can quickly turn dangerous when pets are involved. Flames, fire starters, and bones can all pose a threat to our furry foodies. The good news is you don’t have to exclude Fido from the festivities. These 7 grilling precautions will ensure your pup has a safe and tasty time at the family barbeque. 

#1. Store grilling supplies out of Fido’s reach

Dogs are curious by nature, but this innate curiosity can spell big trouble when it comes to grilling supplies. Skewers, lighter fluid, and grill brushes (particularly ones with wire bristles) are all dangerous items for pets. Wire brushes and discarded skewers can cut a dog’s paws or tongue and may be tempting as they may have residual meat juices on them.

Petroleum-based lighter fluid contains hydrocarbons, which are highly poisonous to dogs. Lighter fluid can cause chemical burns if your dog gets it on their paws or skin. Inhalation of petroleum-based products can cause chemical pneumonitis, a potentially deadly condition if left untreated. Because of these reasons, you should store grilling supplies up high or in a locking tote to keep inquisitive doggos out. 

#2. Know the foods Fido can and can’t have

Raw bones are a tasty, nutritious snack for dogs; however, cooked bones can pose a serious risk. The cooking process makes bones brittle and can cause them to splinter in the stomach or obstruct the digestive tract.

Other common cookout foods to watch out for include corn on the cob, onions, garlic, and chives. Although it might be cute to watch your dog gnawing on a corn cob, these pose a choking risk and may cause gastric obstructions. Onions, garlic, and chives contain organosulfide compounds. These are toxic to dogs and, in high concentrations, can cause respiratory distress and liver inflammation.

#3. Keep Fido away from the grill

Grills are the most apparent danger when it comes to barbecuing around dogs. After all, grills release lots of delicious smells, and dogs' noses are way more sensitive than ours. Excited pups may accidentally knock over grills, causing burns or even starting fires.

For this reason, you should make sure your dog doesn’t go around the grill, even after it’s out. Grills can emit heat hours after extinguishing them and may burn dogs that get too close. Train your dog that the grilling area is off-limits before barbecuing season begins — this will make it easier to keep your pup away when you’re actively grilling.

#4. Cover the trash can

The aroma from a food-filled trash can might be irresistible to a hungry pooch. Unfortunately, dogs cannot discern between a safe piece of leftover meat and a potentially harmful bone. Not to mention sharp objects and dangerous materials like bamboo skewers and aluminum foil all end up in the trash. What makes these items even more dangerous is that they are super appealing since they are often coated in meat juices. 

#5. Put Fido in the house if there will be fireworks

Though a fun pastime for humans, fireworks are terrifying for many dogs. The loud booms and colorful explosions can cause many dogs to run away. Shelters see a significant increase in dogs on holidays like the Fourth of July and New Year’s due, in most part, to all the fireworks.

Prevent your skittish fur-baby from taking off or hurting themselves by crating them in a secluded room when things get loud. If your dog has firework anxiety, it might be a good idea to ask your vet about prescription medications to help keep them calm.

#6. Use dog-safe insect repellent

Summertime means bugs in many parts of the US. Bugs are undoubtedly an itchy nuisance, but they can also carry diseases and parasites. Mosquitos can transmit heartworms, which are not only costly to treat but can also be deadly. Ticks come with their share of nasty diseases, too, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Take precautions against creepy crawlies by investing in some dog-safe insect repellant, or make your own. Never use DEET-containing products on your dog since these are poisonous to pets and may cause toxicosis. If you do make your own insect repellant, steer clear of essential oils that are poisonous to dogs, including:

  • Anise

  • Cinnamon

  • Clove

  • Citrus 

  • Pennyroyal

  • Peppermint

  • Pine

  • Sweet Birch

  • Tea Tree

  • Wintergreen

  • Ylang Ylang

  • Thyme

  • Juniper

  • Yarrow

  • Garlic