There’s one question I ask every time I get invited to a summer cookout: Will there be dogs there? As a cat owner, I don’t often get to bring my furry friends with me for these outdoor hangs, but I love to be surrounded by animals whenever possible. And in an effort to get any and all pups to love me, I will resort to bribing them with treats. At a cookout, however, not all the foods are pet-friendly, and no matter how much you want the pups to become obsessed with you, it’s best for their safety to avoid any sneaky food sharing.
Barbecue foods that are bad for your pets
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reminds us that a lot of ingredients common to backyard barbecues are toxic to pets, specifically onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, chocolate, and candy. And even the meaty products that might seem the most dog-friendly can cause some serious damage. Hot dogs and burgers can cause pancreatitis, which can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, decreased appetite, and abdominal pain in your pet.
If you do have a pet out at a cookout, make sure they have plenty of water to stay cool and hydrated, but make sure water is the only thing your pet is drinking. All cocktails, beer, and wine are toxic to them.
Be sure to keep any food and drink waste in a garbage container that is not easy for your pets to access—if people are simply ditching their paper plates and solo cups on the ground or in a garbage bag lying in the grass, it’s much more likely that a curious pet will get into something potentially harmful.
How to keep pets safe during a cookout
If you’re grilling, then it’s not just the food, but the equipment that could cause harm to a pet. The ASPCA recommends keeping charcoal and lighter fluid tucked away where your pets can’t get into them; additionally, make sure your animals are nowhere in sight when you eventually clean your grill. While the grease and food debris might seem appetizing to your dogs, it can also cause pancreatitis. Not to mention that any grill-cleaning products are likely to be toxic.
If you’re attending a cookout where you might want to befriend some of the four-legged guests, ask the dogs’ owners ahead of time if there are specific treats you can bring for the pup, the same way you might ask ahead what a party host’s favorite kind of wine is in order to bring them a bottle. And remember that the best way to show affection to pets is to keep them safe, no matter how cute their sad eyes are while you’re chomping into your brat. They’ll thank you in the long run.