If you are looking to book a cat vaccination, please be aware that there is an ongoing shortage of some cat vaccines affecting all UK Veterinary practices. Find out more here.

Dangers of Summer Barbeques

Chloe's Story and The Dangers of Summer Barbeques for Dogs

Chloe was a beautiful, fun loving, four-year-old Cocker Spaniel. She was brought into the surgery as an urgent appointment, drooling and looking miserable and extremely uncomfortable. She had been up all night being very sick indeed, and she had not eaten or drunk anything, which was very unlike Lola, as she did love her food.  

On her examination she was very lethargic, and her abdomen was painful to touch, and she was becoming worryingly dehydrated. Chloe was taken into the clinic for Hospitalisation, intravenous fluids, treatments to settle her nausea, and further investigations. X-rays revealed that Chloe had all the evidence of an intestinal obstruction.  On questioning her owners, it transpired that Lola had been scrounging for food around the barbeque the day before, and she had been seen eating a discarded corn on the cob core. The cob had certainly caused an obstruction, and wee Lola would have to have urgent surgery to remove this foreign body from her bowel.  

Every summer, we see dogs who have got into a spot of bother at the family barbeque. The centre “core” from a corn on the cob can present a choking hazard and cause an intestinal obstruction if swallowed. The cobs are the perfect size to make a “cork” in the intestines.   

Everyone loves eating outdoors in the long-awaited warm summer months. However, if you do not keep a close eye on them, our pets can easily get hold of and eat something they should not. Follow these simple tips to make sure your barbeque is fun for everyone, including your dog.   

A feast of scraps from the barbeque can be extremely dangerous for your pet, and not just for their waistlines. Barbeque scraps can upset your pet's stomach and undercooked or fatty foods can make them sick and cause severe diarrhoea. A sudden excess of fat in their diet can cause gastroenteritis, and pancreatitis. Butter, fat drippings, the skin and fat trimmings from barbequed meats, sauces, sausages, and hamburgers can all be too far too high in fat content for most dogs.  

Bones can also be especially harmful for your dog, especially when cooked. Cooked bones are dangerously sharp, and they will splinter, and if eaten these can damage and perforate gums and intestines. Never give dogs bones from the barbeque. Instead give them a healthy, pet-safe, dental chew to gnaw on, or a fun, new toy to play with instead. It will keep them occupied while you enjoy your food in peace.  

Another big problem at barbeques is pets eating things like toothpicks or meat skewers. These are often eaten as they still taste of meat, and they can cause severe intestinal perforation injuries. When ingested, these sharp objects can perforate the bowel and then migrate through the intestines causing further severe internal injury.  

Think about other potential hazards too. Keep all alcoholic drinks and any chocolate sweets and desserts out of reach of inquisitive pets and keep them away from any sugar-free drinks that might contain xylitol sweetener, which is toxic for dogs.   

Most dogs will eat anything and everything, so keep an eye on what they may be indulging in. You want to enjoy the barbeque too, not spend it looking after a sick pet with an upset stomach.  

Do always make sure that any leftover meats, bones, skewers, and other rubbish are thrown away into a safe, lidded bin, that your pet cannot then raid. All those food smells will be extremely tempting for pets, so this bin needs to be very secure.    

Your pets will not be able to safely enjoy snacks off your barbeque menu, so you can prepare them their own healthy, low fat “treats” to enjoy while you are enjoying your meal. Puzzle mats or puzzle feeders are great, or some pet-safe chews, or a new toy can keep them busy and distracted. If it is proving difficult to keep your pets at bay while you are trying to eat, feed them their normal food in a separate, quiet room in the house while you are eating your meal. This will keep them out of harm’s way.   

All these dangers may sound scary, but sadly, they are very real. A little care and preparation beforehand and a watchful eye, will hopefully ensure a happy safe summer for your pets.  

Thankfully, our wee Chloe made a full recovery after her operation and was soon back to eating again and being her mischievous, bouncy self. All her family members were very vigilant around the barbecue thereafter though, and they all kept a very close eye on her and kept any corn on the cobs well out of reach!  


Alison Laurie-Chalmers   

Senior Consultant,  

Crown Vets.  

Return to Alison's Articles