Canine Cook Out Cautions

Pet Health and Safety  •   Mary Shaughney  •   Jul 02, 2018

Summer is the season of sprinklers, swimming pools and cookouts! People everywhere are firing up the grill and planning the next few months of backyard fun with their friends and neighbors. Your dog shouldn’t miss out on the fun but keeping him safe during cookouts is key to a successful summer! Here are some tips if your dog:

…Won’t Listen at Cookouts

Distraction training your dog is an important first step to ensuring a safe cookout for everyone. Your dog should know how to focus on commands in unpredictable, disruptive situations. Distraction training will take time and practice, so work with your dog before putting him into an overwhelming situation. Between tempting food smells, playing children, and loud music, an untrained dog may have a hard time remembering his manners. By teaching your dog how to resist temptation and focus on what you’re asking of him, you’ll be able to keep him safer in a variety of environments.

…Begs for Food

It’s hard to resist a dog’s sweet, begging face as he watches every bite of food go into your mouth, but many foods served at cookouts can make your dog sick. Encourage guests to keep their plates out of reach of dogs and not to feed any scraps. Train your dog not to beg for food before introducing him to cookout situations where temptation is everywhere.

 Some common cookout foods that can make a dog sick include:

  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Avocados
  • Dips (containing onions, spices, or garlic)
  • Bones
  • Chocolate
  • Uncooked meat
  • Chips
  • Onions
  • Alcohol

Try making these delicious pupsicles to keep your dog hydrated during the hot summer days. Or this one-ingredient banana ice cream recipe can satisfy both you and your dog’s sweet tooth! You can also find ice cream made specifically for dogs at many boutique dog supply stores.

If you’re worried about guests feeding your dog inappropriate scraps, consider putting out a dog-friendly treat bowl filled with healthy fruits that can be shared with party-going pooches. Fill this bowl bite-sized seedless watermelon, blueberries, apples, and strawberries. Make a sign to let guests know that this fruit bowl is dog-friendly, but remind them that even with these healthy options, your dog shouldn’t have too many treats!

…Ate Something He Shouldn’t

Dogs are quick and often sneaky when it comes to snagging food off tables. If you see your dog grab something he shouldn’t, try to encourage him to drop it. It’s important to teach your dog the ‘leave it’ command before a situation like this occurs so you can keep your dog from swallowing harmful items. If your dog has already eaten something and it doesn’t appear to be causing him distress, he may be able to pass it. If you know the item is toxic to dogs such as grapes, you may need to call the Pet Poison Helpline. If your dog ate chicken bones, or something similar that might scratch his digestive lining, keep a very close eye on your dog the next few days and take your dog to the veterinarian if he starts vomiting, has bloody stool or shows signs of stomach discomfort.

…Can’t Resist a Swimming Pool

If there’s a pool at the cookout, ensure that your dog can’t get into it unsupervised. If your dog isn’t allowed in the pool, keep him on a leash unless the pool is fenced in. Teach your dog to swim before taking him to events with a swimming pool or natural body of water. Remember, even the best swimmer can get tired or forget where the exits are in a pool. Keep an eye on your swimming pup and remove him from the water if he seems like he may be too tired to safely play!

…Is an Escape Artist

With guests coming in and out of the cookout area, a dog can easily slip through a door or gate. Keep your dog’s collar on throughout the event with up-to-date identification tags that clearly state your name and phone number. Some dog ID tags will wear over time resulting in a loss of the owner contact information, so remember to order new tags if the content is no longer legible. About one in three pets become lost at some time in their life, so consider microchipping your dog so he can be safely returned should he escape without a collar.

…Overheats

Always keep an eye on how your dog is handling the heat. If you’re hot, they are, too. Panting is a normal reaction to heat, but if your dog’s panting seems uncontrollable, you should get your pet into an air-conditioned room right away. Contact your veterinarian if your dog starts drooling, stumbling, vomiting, has a rapid pulse or has pale blue/white gums, as these are symptoms of heatstroke in dogs. To prevent your dog from overheating, offer him the chance to go inside to a cool room throughout the day and be sure to provide plenty of fresh water and shade.

…Needs Skin Protection

Just like people’s, dogs’ skin needs protection from the sun. Sunlight is a major factor in the cause of skin cancer in dogs, so protect your pup if he’s going to be spending a lot of time outside. Provide shaded areas by putting up an umbrella, planting trees in your yard, or allowing your dog to take breaks inside your house away from the sun. Dog-safe sunscreen can be used where your dog has little to no fur, such as on his muzzle, ears and belly.

…Is Ready to Party!

Now that you know how to keep your dog safe, you can get started on enjoying your summer. From Fourth of July parties to Labor Day picnics, you and your dog will be ready for whatever event this season throws your way!

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Mary Shaughney

About the Author
Mary Shaughney

Mary comes to AKC Pet Insurance with an extensive background in animal care and as a lifelong animal lover, has a passion for promoting pet health and wellness. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her orange kitty, "Cat", and is currently searching for the right pup to join her family!