Your famous summer barbecue is ready to begin. You look over the backyard one last time—side dishes are prepped, the grill is hot, the lawn chairs are arranged, and the pool is sparkling. You have thought of everything.

A low woof from behind the back door begs to disagree. 

Fortunately, the south Austin veterinarians of Oliver Animal Hospital are always thinking about your pets—because you have enough on your plate. Here are five summer barbecue hazards for pets. We want your pet safe this summer.

#1: Pet toxins

Your backyard may look like party central, but to your pet it’s a feast of devilish delights. Your pet may unknowingly ingest the following summer toxins:

  • Lawn and pest products — These include insecticides, rodenticides, herbicides, and fertilizer.
  • Fireworks — Fireworks contain fuel and various chemicals.
  • At the grill — Quick-starting charcoal briquettes, or briquettes soaked in lighter fluid, are dangerous for pets.
  • Pool chemicals — These contain concentrated formulations or tablets of chlorine or bromine.
  • Foods — Raw meat, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, chocolate, garlic, onions, avocados, alcohol, and products containing xylitol are all toxic for pets.
  • Glow sticks — Keep them away from pets. 

If your pet has ingested any known toxin, or anything suspicious, call the ASPCA Pet Poison Helpline and Oliver Animal Hospital for guidance. Some pet toxins will result in minor gastrointestinal issues, while others can have serious effects on the kidneys, liver, blood, and nervous system.  

Inspect your yard, grill, and pool area thoroughly before allowing your pets to join you at any cookout. Store away any dangerous products, keep toxic foods out of reach, and post the pet poison helpline number on your refrigerator.  

#2: Pet foreign object ingestion

Corn cobs and bone-in meat, such as T-Bone steaks and various chicken parts, are commonly given to dogs by indulgent party-goers—or they are snatched directly off of a party-goer’s plate. When ingested, a corn cob can create an internal blockage, and cooked bones can obstruct or perforate the dog’s stomach or gastrointestinal tract, because they may have sharp edges, and they tend to splinter. Wooden skewers, foil and plastic food wrappers, and grill-cleaning brushes also are dangerous ingestible items. Discourage guests from feeding your pets, remind them to keep an eye on their food, and keep a lid on all trash cans.

#3: Pets and hot weather

Pets do not tolerate high temperatures as well as people, making them prone to heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Closely monitor your pet for signs of discomfort, or designate a family member to do so. If your pet will stay outdoors during the party, ensure they have plenty of fresh water, shade, and opportunities to go indoors. If your pet begins to pant excessively, take them inside for a break. 

#4: Pets and burns

The barbecue aroma can hypnotize any dog, and many will climb or jump up for a closer look at the grill. Cats can leap onto the grill. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that pets be kept at least three feet from an open flame or grill, to prevent injury or burns. If you cannot place a barrier between the grill and your pets—for example, grilling on the other side of a fence—keep your pet indoors while the grill is hot.

If your pet does get burned, take them indoors and rinse the area with cool water. Apply a cold pack to the area to soothe the pain. Also, apply a light bandage from your pet first aid kit, to prevent your pet licking the burn, and call Oliver Animal Hospital. 

Paw pad burns are a possibility for pets who will spend time on hot concrete or asphalt, such as a pool deck or driveway, during the party. Many pets will stand patiently beside you at the grill, waiting for one tiny morsel—and developing painful burns on every foot. Check the temperature of a surface by holding the back of your hand to the surface for seven seconds. If the surface is too hot for your hand, your dog is at risk of burning their paw pads. 

#5: An after-party cleanup with pets in mind

No one wants to think about cleaning up right after a party, but this step is necessary for protecting your pets. Your grill should be carefully cleaned of all food traces, paying special attention to any grease traps or drippings underneath or on the ground. Only a small amount of these rich, fatty drippings can make pets sick. 

Collect any spent fireworks wrappers, as well as any stray drink cups that may contain residual alcohol, and put them in the trash. Keep trash cans tightly closed, and keep the trash cans out of reach of your curious pets.  

By taking care of these five barbecue pet hazards, your pets will be safe, and your party a huge success. Be careful though, because your neighbors and pets will expect you to host one every month! Call the south Austin veterinarians at Oliver Animal Hospital if you have additional questions about pet summer safety, pet toxins, or safety around the grill.