With summer in full swing, many people are excited about grilling, backyard barbecues, and spending time with family and friends. Because BBQs are outdoor events, it's common to bring your dog to enjoy some fun in the sun and join the party.
Barbecues can be great social events for your dog, but they also present a few hazards that need to be avoided. Here are 9 tips for bringing your dog to your next BBQ or backyard cookout.
1. Know Which Foods Are Safe (And Which Are Toxic)
Backyard BBQs are all about the food, but before you feed your pup scraps off your plate, it's important to know what's safe and what's toxic.
Common cookout foods that are safe for your dog include:
- Grilled vegetables like zucchini or sweet potato
- Watermelon and blueberries
- Small amounts of grilled meats like fish or hamburgers (without spice rubs or sauce)
While small amounts of grilled meats are safe for your pup, you should only feed them in moderation. Too much fatty food can be dangerous for your dog, leading to an upset stomach, digestive issues, and even pancreatitis.
Other foods to avoid sharing with your dog include:
- Steak, ribs, and chicken bones
- Garlic and onions
- Raw meat
- Corn on the cob
- Salty snacks
2. Keep Your Dog Away from the Grill
With barbecuing comes a large open flame that can be dangerous if your pup gets too close. Make sure that the grill is secure, and keep your dog away from the designated grilling area, blocking off access if possible.
Remember that even after you've put the flame out, grills can stay hot for hours afterward. Supervise your dog, and keep them away from the grill, even after everyone is done cooking.
3. Bring Distracting Toys
As much as you love your dog, sometimes their playful antics can be too much when you're trying to eat, cook food, or catch up with friends. Plus, with so many tempting treats lying around, it can be tough to keep your dog out of trouble.
Bring your pup's favorite toys along to the party to give them something fun and distracting to play with. A puzzle toy or food-stuffed toy can also be a great way to burn off some of their excited energy in a controlled way.
4. Keep Your Dog Hydrated
The heat, exercise, and excitement of the BBQ can make your pup even more thirsty without them even realizing it. Hydration is important for your dog every day, but it's especially important when they're outside for long periods in the heat.
Make sure there are plenty of water bowls around the backyard with fresh water in them to encourage your dog to drink when they need to.
5. Set up a Dog Safe Zone
Sometimes the excitement of the BBQ, the noise, and all of the people can be a bit too much for your dog, especially if fireworks are involved. For these moments, it's good to have a safe room set up for your dog that's quiet and secure.
This room not only helps them decompress and calm down if they've gotten anxious, but it also keeps them safe.
The Fourth of July is the most common day of the year for dogs to go missing, often because they're scared of loud noises. Having a safe room to put your dog in keeps them from escaping and potentially being hurt.
6. Help Your Dog Stay Cool
Between the heat of the grill and the heat of the sun, backyard BBQs can get very hot very quickly and your dog can be in danger of overheating.
Make sure there are plenty of shaded areas for your dog to cool off in and have them take breaks between playing and physical activity to drink water and cool off inside if necessary. A cool rag, small pool of water, or even a frozen treat can also be great ways to keep your dog cool.
It's also important to watch for signs of heat stroke, like elevated breathing rates, bright-red gums, lethargy, or disorientation.
If your dog's breathing or behavior changes, call your veterinarian immediately and get your dog inside where it's cool.
7. Keep Your Dog's Collar On
Accidents happen, and dogs can escape quickly from backyards – especially in the chaos of a party. ID tags can help someone identify your dog and use your contact information to return them to you.
If possible, getting your dog microchipped is also a great safety measure. Collars can be slipped off, but a microchip will stay with your dog and allow a local vet or animal shelter to scan it for your contact information.
8. Supervise Your Dog at All Times
A lot is going on at most BBQs, and your curious dog can quickly get into trouble without supervision.
Keep an eye on your four-legged friend at all times to prevent them from taking nibbles at dangerous food, jumping into an unoccupied pool, or making their escape over the fence. If your dog can't be trusted to roam the party on their own, consider placing them on a leash to keep them near you.
9. Be Prepared to Leave Early, If Necessary
Even when you take all of the necessary precautions, sometimes parties can become too much for your pup. Watch your dog's body language, and look to them for signs that they're becoming overwhelmed.
If at any point your dog seems uncomfortable or upset, be prepared to cut the party short and take your pup home. While it might not be what you wanted, removing your dog from triggering situations can be the best way to prevent further injuries or anxiety later.
Is Your Dog Ready for Your Next Summer BBQ?
Backyard BBQs are one of the best parts of summer, and having your dog there with you only makes the experience better.
As long as you supervise your dog, keep them away from toxic foods and backyard hazards, and listen to them when they communicate their discomfort, you and your furry friend can safely enjoy the next summer BBQ together!