Summer has not truly arrived until you have your first barbecue. You are ready to fire up the grill, but you want to ensure your pet is safe during the festivities. The team at Gentle Touch Animal Hospital wants to provide some do’s and don’ts to keep your pet free from harm while the grill is cooking.


DO ensure your pet cannot escape

Check all fencing around your property to prevent your pet from sneaking through a broken section. Ensure your pet is wearing a collar and current identification in case they run away during the excitement. Microchipping is a great way to keep tabs on your pet, and can easily be administered at their next wellness visit. If your pet becomes anxious around other people, leave them in an interior room in your house to help prevent them from becoming upset by the commotion. You can leave music or the television playing to help muffle noises. 


DON’T allow your pet to eat party food

A sudden indiscretion in your pet’s diet can cause significant gastrointestinal issues, especially if the food they ingest is high in fat. Cooked bones are also dangerous for pets, because they are brittle and shatter easily, and your pet could choke or puncture their esophagus if they swallow a bone sliver.


Many common foods, including avocados, garlic, onion, alcohol, chocolate, and caffeine, are all dangerous for your pet if ingested. You should contact Gentle Touch Animal Hospital or Animal Poison Control if your pet eats toxic food. Pets scrounging for scraps may accidentally consume a foreign object that could cause a gastrointestinal blockage, and require surgery. Keep all food and garbage in sealed containers.


DO monitor your pet closely for heat exhaustion

Pets, especially breeds such as bulldogs, chow chows, and pugs, can easily become overheated on hot, humid days. Older pets and those who are overweight are also at higher risk. Signs include excessive panting and drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, incoordination, and sudden collapse. Offer your pet fresh water frequently, and monitor them closely for signs indicating heat exhaustion. If your pet becomes overheated, take them to a cool, well-ventilated area and offer them fresh water. Using a digital thermometer, take their temperature rectally. If their temperature is higher than 103 degrees—normal temperature is 101 to 102.5—heatstroke is indicated, and you should contact Gentle Touch Animal Hospital immediately.


DON’T allow your pet near the grill

The fragrant sizzling meat and grease drippings will entice your pet, but they can be harmed if they give in to temptation and accidentally knock over the grill. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, pets and children should be kept at least three feet from a lighted grill. You do not want your pet’s curiosity to make them a burn victim. Also, getting close to the grill will increase their risk for ingesting inappropriate food. The smoke from the grill can be extremely irritating to your pet’s sensitive airways, so ensure they are downwind from the fumes.


DO keep your pet away from toxic chemicals

Insect repellents, citronella candles, fertilizers, and pesticides that you may have used to help keep your party pest-free all contain chemicals that are extremely harmful for your pet. DEET products can cause neurological issues, such as tremors, seizures, and death, and citronella can cause significant gastrointestinal upset. Do not use these products in areas accessible to your pet. Natural mosquito repellents that are safe for your pet include lemon, eucalyptus oil and tea tree oil. You can also plant mosquito-repellent plants, such as basil, rosemary, and lavender.


DON’T use fireworks around your pet

Fireworks can terrify your pet, and cause them extreme stress and anxiety, because they do not understand what is happening when the loud noises and bright lights suddenly start. Some dogs and cats suffer from noise phobias and can experience physiological effects triggered by fireworks. Leave your pet at home if you are attending a party where you know there will be a fireworks display. If you cannot keep your pet away, you can use behavior modification techniques to help desensitize your pet. If behavior modification does not help, and your pet still becomes panicked during a fireworks display, talk to our veterinary professionals at Gentle Touch Animal Hospital to see if your pet could benefit from a mild sedative or anti-anxiety medication.


DO treat your pet

You can include your pet in the festivities by making them pet-safe treats to eat when the party-goers are chowing down on barbecue fare. You can also offer them treats or kibble in a food-puzzle toy to keep them entertained, to prevent them from getting into any trouble. Offer your pet attention and pet them frequently to reassure them their superhero is there for them during the party commotion.


You and your pet can have an enjoyable barbecue experience by following these do’s and don’ts. However, if your pet has a barbecue-related mishap, do not hesitate to contact the Fear Free team at Gentle Touch Animal Hospital to schedule an appointment.