BBQ safety: top tips for pet owners

There's nothing better than having a barbeque with friends and family during the great British summer. But all those tempting treats and glowing grills can be a danger for our much-loved pets.

Heatstroke and burns. Bin raids and broken glass. There are a lot of potential dangers for pet owners to bear in mind. Every summer, our vets see lots of pets who’ve got into a spot of bother at the family barbeque. 

Follow these simple tips to make sure your barbeque is fun for everyone – including our four-legged friends!


1. Skip the scraps​

Is your dog a master of puppy dog eyes? Don't give in! Barbeque scraps can upset your pet's stomach and undercooked or fatty foods can make them very poorly. Don't forget that bones can be really harmful for your dog, especially when cooked. We'd never recommend giving them bones from the barbeque. Try giving them a healthy chew to chomp on or a fun toy to play with instead. It will keep them occupied while you enjoy your food in peace.


2. Bin it

If you don’t keep a close eye on them, pets can easily get hold of something they shouldn’t. A big problem at barbeques is pets eating things like kebab skewers or the core from a corn on the cob. These can cause serious and potentially life-threatening problems, such as gut blockages and injuries for dogs and cats.

Make sure any leftovers and rubbish are thrown away in a lidded bin that your pet can’t raid. All those food smells will be super tempting for pets so your bin needs to be super secure.  


3. Out of reach

If you’re using lighter fluid or firelighters to light your barbeque, make sure you store them well out of reach of pets.

Think about other potential poisons too – keep alcoholic drinks, sugar-free treats and chocolate desserts out of temptation’s way for inquisitive pets. Take a look at our guide to some common poisons and hazards found around our homes and first aid for toxins.


4. Flamin' hot

Keep pets a safe distance away from the barbeque. A stolen sausage off the barbecue grill is way too hot to handle! Hot food, hot coals and ashes can all cause serious burns. Always make sure the barbeque is cooled down quickly once you’ve finished cooking and never leave pets on their own around it while it’s still hot.


5. Breathe easy

Smoke can be very irritating for pets, especially as many of them have sensitive airways. Make sure your pets are far away from the barbeque and not downwind of any fumes. This is especially important for small pets and birds; you might need to move their enclosure or the barbeque so they are away from the smoke.


6. Keep them cool

Our furry friends can quickly overheat in the sun. Make sure they can head into the shade or indoors whenever they need to cool down. It’s always important that your pet has access to fresh, clean water especially on hot days. If you hear there’s a heatwave coming, think about having your barbeque later in the evening so your pet won’t get too much excitement at the hottest part of the day. Check out our range of cooling products to help your pet beat the heat.


7. Slap on the sun cream

Sun safety is just as important for our pets as it is for us. If you’re feeling the need to slather on the sun cream, it’s likely your pet will need some too especially if they have thin fur, white fur, or pink skin exposed such as the tips of the ears or on the end of the nose. Make sure you use a pet-safe sun cream – your vet will be able to recommend one for you if you’re not sure what to look for. Find out more about keeping your pet safe from the sun.


8. Safety first

Make sure your garden is secure and pet safe. With all the distractions, you might not be able to watch your pet as closely, especially while the food’s on the grill or you’re enjoying a well-earned feast. Check the fences and plants ahead of time so you can relax and know your pet is safe and having as much fun as you. Read our guide on creating a pet-friendly garden.


9. De-stress

Having a house full of strangers might be a bit stressful for your pet, so try to give them plenty of opportunity to relax in peace.

  • Set up a calm, quiet room in your house where pets can retreat to if they feel stressed out.
  • Your dog might love all the extra attention or they might find it a bit overwhelming. Dogs are usually eager to please and might not want to take a rest even if they’re getting worked up or too hot. Look for warning signs that they’re getting over excited or finding the situation stressful and give them some time to themselves.
  • Pets who live in the garden, like some rabbits and guinea pigs, might be frightened by the noise of a big group of people. Try to home, cover part of their cage so they can hide away, or move their enclosure into a quieter part of the garden.


10. Treat them too

Our pets might not be able to safely enjoy snacks off the barbeque, so why not prepare them their own treat to enjoy while you’re eating? This could be a thirst-quenching pet-safe snack or a puzzle feeder filled with kibble. If you’re having lots of dogs at the barbeque, why not make a batch of dog-safe cakes to share in a few different sizes to suit all your pet’s furry friends?

If you don’t have time to prepare something, feeding them their normal food in a separate room while you eat your meal will keep them distracted and out of harm’s way in case any tempting treats are dropped.

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