Labor Day Pet Tips

A few tips on keeping your pet safe around the BBQ

By Candi Amundson, CVT
Veterinary Information Specialist

Dog and Cat at barbecue

Many people take this day once a year to celebrate as a tribute to all their hard work over the past year. Many people will gather with friends and families and enjoy games, picnics, and BBQ’s outdoors. As always, our furry family members are included on these holidays! These are some quick tips and things to avoid during this time of the year.

The Backyard:

  • Fire Up The Grill!
    • Fat drippings from the grill, and meats; can contain large amounts of oils that could lead to risk for your dog developing pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Symptoms include: vomiting, diarrhea, intense abdominal pain, and other affects to the organs. This can be life-threatening if left untreated. Try to keep one person assigned to monitoring the grill to be sure the dogs are not licking up that tasty grease.
    • Charcoal: Not poisonous but very upsetting to the stomach when ingested. Commonly this can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and inappetence. Large pieces could even lead to obstruction. (Another great reason to assign a “grill-master.”)
    • Hot! It may seem like common sense, however be sure the grill-master watches out for running dogs to prevent accidentally burn injuries.
  • Lounge Time & Relaxation
    • Tiki Torches: These contain petroleum distillates that are very irritating to the skin and the stomach. The greatest danger occurs when the animal vomits and the liquid can slide into the lungs (aspiration). This could immediately cause coughing/wheezing, choking and even sudden death. If left untreated, this could be very dangerous and could cause a chemical pneumonia. If on the skin, wash quickly with a dish soap to prevent further irritation.
    • Bug Sprays: Most brands have a fairly low toxic risk when ingested or applied to the skin. Some of these products may cause mild irritation to the skin of sensitive pets and bathing with dish soap is a quick way to remove the spray. Products with high concentrations DEET can cause toxicity following heavy application or ingestion.. Stand away from your pets while applying the spray to avoid getting it in their eyes or nose/mouth and keep the containers out of reach. Be extra careful to keep pressurized canisters away from dogs. If they puncture them with their teeth, not only may poisoning ensue, but this can result in very damaging pressure injuries in the mouth and throat.
      • DEET: Concentrations can vary up to 100%. If applied on the skin/fur or ingested this can cause drooling, chewing motions, vomiting, trouble walking, lethargy, and potentially tremors. Only use dog/cat approved products on your pet.

Let’s Eat!

  • Bones: Giving your dog any type of bones should be avoided. These can splinter; get lodged in the teeth or throat, and puncture (perforate) the intestinal tract. This can be difficult to manage with children, but try to remove the bones immediately or have guests throw the bones in the garbage when finished.
  • Corn on the cob: Another food that is not toxic, but if portions of the cob are swallowed, it can cause an intestinal blockage that could result in surgical removal. Best to have guests throw these in the garbage right away also!
  • Everyone loves dip! Dips can commonly contain spices, onions, garlic, and Avocados (Guacamole).
    • Onions/Garlic can cause affect to the red blood cells and could lead to anemia.
    • Avocados are not toxic to dogs/cats; however they do contain large amounts of natural fats that could cause risk for pancreatitis (once again). The pits; when swallowed whole can cause an obstruction risk.
  • Fruit Trays/Fruit Salads: Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Oranges, Apples, and………..GRAPES (Oh no!).
    • All these fruits are very safe for pets (in moderation) except grapes. Just to clarify; apples do contain small amounts of cyanide in the seeds (cyanogenic glycosides), but rarely cause toxicity because the amount released (only when chewed into) is minimal.
    • GRAPES: These can lead to kidney failure. Any number of grapes (and also raisins!) can lead to toxicity concern. Try to keep these under close supervision.
  • Desserts: Bring on that apple pie, brownies, cupcakes, and cookies!
    • These can contain chocolate which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, agitation/hyperactivity, a rapid heart beat, tremors, and seizures.
    • Increasingly more common; Xylitol, a natural sugar substitute, is used as a replacement for sugar in these baked goods. Even small pieces of a baked goods containing xylitol can cause a life-threatening drop in the blood glucose (hypoglycemia) and possibly liver failure.

Please have a safe and relaxing Labor Day, you’ve earned it!