Summer is here and that means it’s barbecue season! While enjoying delicious grilled goodies with friends and family, it’s important to remember that some barbecue foods can pose significant threats to our furry companions.

From chocolate to alcohol and onions, these items can cause severe health issues if ingested by pets. Moreover, the behavior of counter-surfing can further amplify the risks by granting pets easier access to harmful foods.


Remember, it’s essential to keep these foods out of your pets’ reach during barbecue gatherings to prevent accidental ingestion and potential health issues.

Although this list is not exhaustive, these are the more common barbecue foods to keep away from your pets:

  • Chocolate: Contains theobromine which is toxic to dogs and cats.
  • Onions and Garlic: These can damage a pet’s red blood cells, leading to anemia.
  • Grapes and Raisins: Can cause kidney failure in dogs, even in small quantities.
  • Avocado: Contains a toxin called Persin, which can be harmful to dogs and cats.
  • Alcohol: Consumption can lead to alcohol poisoning in pets, causing a range of symptoms from disorientation to coma, or death.
  • Xylitol: Found in some sugar-free barbeque sauces and marinades, it’s toxic to pets and can cause a rapid drop in blood sugar levels and liver damage.
  • Fatty Meats: High-fat meats like ribs and sausages can cause pancreatitis in pets, leading to severe abdominal pain and digestive issues. 
  • Bones: Cooked bones can splinter and cause choking, intestinal blockages and/or damage to the digestive tract.
  • Corn on the Cob: The cob can be a choking hazard and cause intestinal blockages if ingested.
  • Spicy Foods: Spicy barbecued foods can irritate a pet’s digestive system leading to stomach upset and discomfort.
  • BBQ Marinades and Seasonings: Many marinades and seasonings contain ingredients like onion powder, garlic powder or other spices that can be harmful to pets.


Here are a few helpful tips to ensure a happy and safe barbecue season for your pets:

  • Inform your guests and kindly ask them to refrain from feeding your pets table scraps.
  • Create a safe space for your pets during the barbecue. This space should be away from the hot grill and food tables. 
  • Prepare “pet-friendly” barbecue treats in advance, such as grilled lean meats (without seasonings) and/or homemade pet-friendly ice cream. 
  • Ensure that all barbecue foods, especially those harmful to pets, are stored securely in containers, or refrigerated when not being served. This prevents pets from accessing them even if they are prone to counter-surfing.

IN CONCLUSIONSummertime barbecues are a great way to enjoy the season with family and friends. By understanding the risks, implementing preventative measures such as proper food storage, educating guests and creating designated pet areas, we can create a safe barbecue environment for our pets. Remember, their health and well-being should always be a top priority!

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