The weather is shifting toward warmer days, and with this change, we inevitably want to spend more time outdoors. What better way to enjoy the comfortable temperatures than a barbecue? However, if you are a pet owner, you will need to take some precautions before the party begins. The Southwest Vet team explains the do’s and don’ts of outdoor entertaining, to help ensure your pet’s safety.

DO keep your pet away from the grill

The National Fire Prevention Association recommends always keeping children and animals three feet from an active grill. If your pet accidentally turns the grill over, they may start a fire or be severely burned. Additionally, ingesting grill drippings can cause your pet severe gastrointestinal (GI) upset or, more seriously, pancreatitis. 

DON’T allow your pet to eat inappropriate food

Pets were not meant to eat many foods that humans consume, especially those served at a barbecue, which are typically greasy and fatty, and can cause vomiting or diarrhea. Some common foods, including alcohol, chocolate, caffeine, grapes and raisins, onions, and garlic, are toxic to pets. Corn on the cob can also be dangerous, because pets cannot digest the large cob, which then can cause intestinal obstruction. Bones, especially cooked bones, can splinter and cause lacerations to your pet’s esophagus and GI tract. Ensure your guests know that, no matter how much your pet begs, they must not feed them. Also, watch for dropped food, because pets are experts at clean-up duty.

DO keep your trash sealed and out of pets’ reach

In addition to toxic foods, many things can cause harm to your pet if ingested. Aluminum foil and plastic wrap with food remains are especially desirable to a plundering pet, but can cause intestinal obstruction. Worse, they cannot be seen on an X-ray, making a diagnosis difficult. Matches are another danger, because they contain potassium nitrate, and can cause your pet to suffer seizures, acute kidney failure, and bone marrow changes if consumed in large quantities. Kebab skewers are also hazardous to pets, who may attempt to lick the meat residue off the skewer, resulting in a laceration or puncture wound.

DON’T ignite fireworks around your pet

Loud noises and bright, flashing lights can confuse and terrify your pet, and the resulting stress can lead to numerous problematic behaviors. If your pet is the curious type, they may try to investigate the interesting new plaything, and be injured.

DO use natural insect repellents around your pet

Insect repellents containing DEET are extremely toxic to pets, who may vomit or seizure if exposed. Citronella candles are also hazardous to pets, and can cause GI upset, muscle weakness, and depression. Be safe and use natural products when pets are present.

DON’T let your pet be unsupervised around a pool

Not all animals can swim. Your pet may be able to swim, but if your barbecue is held around a pool, you must still stay cognizant of their whereabouts. They may jump in to join the festivities, without realizing they cannot get out of the pool.

DO ensure small children have adult supervision when pets are around

A large crowd of people, laughing and talking loudly, can be stressful for a pet, who may become more guarded than usual and bite a small child reaching out to pet them.

DON’T let your pet wander

During all the excitement, your pet may decide to make a getaway, because the large crowd of strangers is stressful, and they are seeking a calmer setting. Without the appropriate identification—a collar, tag, and a microchip are best—they could end up lost or injured. Be aware of your pet’s body language, and sequester them in a quiet room in the house if they start showing anxiety signs.

DO prepare your pet for a gathering

If your pet has never been around a large crowd, letting them attend your barbecue is probably not the best plan. Start by socializing your animal with smaller groups of people and gradually work up to the bigger functions. The appropriate training will ensure a more fun, less worrisome experience with your pet at your party.

A pet should not preclude you from hosting a barbecue, as long as you follow these safety practices. If you have any questions, or your pet has an unfortunate incident at your event, contact Southwest Vet for help.