Beware of the BBQ: hidden pet hazards

Beware of the BBQ: hidden pet hazards

With the summer fast approaching and the hot weather making a welcome return, many households across the country will be firing up the barbecue to enjoy some al fresco dining.But barbecues can pose many hazards for our beloved pets and it's important we're aware of the risks so we can do all we can to keep them safe and happy. 

Dave Leicester, Head of Telehealth at Vets Now, explains...

In 2021, cocker spaniel Bobby was left needing emergency surgery at Vets Now Doncaster after swallowing an 18-cm chicken kebab skewer that perforated his stomach. Thankfully, Bobby made a dramatic recovery, but the incident is a wake-up call to some of the threats our pets face.  

Vets Now has revealed that skewer cases more than double in the spring summer season, with a 131% increase compared to autumn winter months. 

 Ahead of the official start of summer and BBQ season and as National BBQ Week returns (29th May – 4th June 2023) the UK's leading pet emergency service, Vets Now, has shared the hidden hazards for pet owners to avoid a dash to the vets.

Certain foods are poisonous for pets 

If you're throwing a party for friends or family, it's likely you'll be supplying a buffet of delicious treats. But despite your pet's eagerness to grab a bite, it's important to remember there are some foods which are best avoided. For dogs, things such as chocolate, onions, garlic, chives, alcohol and grapes are all poisonous. We've written a full list here of the foods.  

Similarly for cats, chocolate, alcohol, cheese and milk are all best avoided. 

Keep leftovers out of reach 

Bones from drumsticks or wings can be seriously dangerous for pets. A cross-breed Molly was left needing emergency treatment when she swallowed a chicken bone that then splintered before getting lodged in her throat. Molly scooped up the chicken bone from the floor and swallowed it before anyone could stop her. 

 Dave Leicester, head of telehealth at Vets Now, adds, “Pets, especially dogs, are skilled at sniffing out leftovers. Aluminium foil, plastic wrap, matches and kebab skewers can be dangerous, especially if they’re covered in grease or other food.” 

Be mindful of your cleaning supplies  

Sharp bristles from cleaning brushes have led to some horrifying ordeals for pet owners. Try keeping anything sharp away from your pet’s reach. Labradoodle Riley has twice swallowed potentially deadly spikes after licking a wire cleaning brush. Vets were left extremely concerned and the only option was to bulk-feed Riley, giving him repeated meals of pasta, and mashed potato to try to help cushion the bristles through his digestive system so they could pass naturally without causing damage. 

Keep your pets away from the smoke 

Smoke from the grill can be irritating to pets’ lungs. Keep your pets at a safe distance at all times and ensure they have plenty of fresh air to breathe in. Also, ensure your pet doesn’t go near the grill or coals until everything has cooled.

Be on the lookout for signs of heat stroke 

If the sunny weather has inspired your barbecue, be sure to keep your pets safe in the heat. Heat stroke can be life-threatening for dogs and it’s vital to be aware of the signs. These include rapid breathing, vomiting and glassy eyes. To prevent heat stroke, always make sure your pet has a shaded area, don’t overdo exercise - especially in the middle of the day - and provide them with plenty of fresh water.

Make sure your plants are safe 

If you're spending time in your garden or want to give it a little makeover ahead of company, be sure to avoid any plants that could be poisonous. For cats, these could be lilies and for dogs, it could be laburnum. Daffodils, rhododendrons, and yew are poisonous to both cats and dogs.

Create a quiet space for your pets 

If you plan to invite guests to your barbecue, it's important to note whether a crowd of new faces could be nerve-wracking for your pet. It's always a good idea to get them used to small groups of new people and try to provide a safe space for them during gatherings. Fill a corner with their favourite toys and treats and check in on them regularly.

Alessandra Pacelli

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