The neighborhood is eager for a block party, and everyone is coming to your backyard for a classic summer barbecue. The tables are set, the grill is heating up, and you are ready to entertain. You hear a pecking sound against glass, and you turn to see your pets at the back door. Their eyes are pleading—can we come out? What’s the harm, you think, as you open the door, and invite your furry friends to be your first official guests. Unfortunately, barbecues pose many harmful opportunities for pets. Emerald Animal Hospital has assembled this list of five common cookout concerns for pets, so you can ensure your party is off the charts, but not off the leash. 

Hot dog! Take precautions to prevent heatstroke

High heat and humidity are dangerous for pets. When the air temperature soars, panting is an ineffective means of cooling, and overheating occurs. Heatstroke, which can be fatal, is a veterinary emergency. Never leave your pets unattended outside, and always provide plenty of water and shade. Heatstroke signs include excessive panting or drooling, red gums, weakness, incoordination, and collapse. If your pet shows any of these signs, bring them indoors, and call Emerald Animal Hospital immediately for instructions. 

Leave it! Common food toxins for pets

Who can resist a block party buffet? Many dogs cannot contain themselves and end up paying an unfortunate price ranging from gastrointestinal upset to abdominal surgery. Party foods contain high amounts of fat, grease, salt, and sugar, and are often incompatible with a pet’s digestive system. Foods toxic to pets that are commonly found at summer parties, include: 

  • Grapes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Avocados
  • Chocolate
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Alcohol 

Ask guests to properly dispose of trash. You need to prevent your pet from consuming meat bones, because cooked meat bones can splinter and shatter when chewed, and lead to choking, lacerations, and potential perforation of the upper gastrointestinal tract. Bones also often result in intestinal blockages (i.e., foreign bodies) and can make pets incredibly ill. Most bone consumption cases require surgery or endoscopy to retrieve the broken pieces and repair the damage. Never allow your pet to chew on meat bones of any kind.

Stop, thief! Keep pets away from the grill

Everyone loves to gather around the grill, but keep your pets at a safe distance. Grills hold many dangers—curious pets can easily be burned from the grill itself, or by causing hot food to spill or splash. Cats may leap directly onto the grill, and big dogs can tip over smaller units and start a fire. Additionally, unsupervised pets can snatch off searing hot meat from the hot grill. Dogs have been known to steal shish kabobs and consume the skewer right along with the meat. 

Keep all pets away from a hot grill—whether active or cooling down—by confining them indoors or on a leash, or keep your grill in an inaccessible area.

They’ve escaped! Don’t let your pet go missing

Fireworks are the grand finale to many summer parties, but the erratic, loud noise and flashing fireworks terrify some pets. Ensure your dog or cat is indoors before the big show starts to prevent a panicked escape from the yard, and keep a collar with current identification on them at all times. 

Of course, fireworks are not the only reason pets go missing. Guests may forget to close a door or gate, allowing a pet to slip away. Family members become distracted by conversation and forget to check on their pet’s whereabouts. Don’t let your summer party become a search party—keep a close eye on your pet, or keep them safely confined indoors. 

Who invited the bugs? Prevent summer pet parasites

The mosquito’s telltale whine reminds you to set up the tiki torches and citronella candles, but did you consider your pet’s protection? Summer is the official party season for fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, and the likelihood of your pet being infected with heartworm or tick-borne diseases, or plagued by fleas, is greater than any other time of year. Ensure your pet is up to date with their prevention medications. They may also need a heartworm and tick disease screening test if they have missed a few doses, to confirm they are healthy enough to resume their preventive. 

Don’t let your pet suffer from party-crashing parasites—protect them with flea, tick, and heartworm preventives year-round, and bounce those bugs at the door.

Emerald Animal Hospital understands that your pets are family, and we don’t want a family member to miss out on a fun summer cookout. When you plan and party with your pet’s safety in mind, you can ensure that everyone—two- and four-legged—has a great time. If you have more questions about pet summer safety, if you need to refill your pet’s flea, tick, and heartworm preventives, or if your pet gets into trouble despite your best efforts, contact our Emerald Animal Hospital team.