Skip to main content

Get reimbursed on your pet's routine care with Mint Wellness by Pet Assure! Enroll Today >

Sit. Stay. Read.

What Your Dog Can and Can't Eat at Summer BBQs

Invite your dog to join in on the summer festivities by offering safe and healthy BBQ foods.

June 28, 2023 4 min read
What Your Dog Can and Can't Eat at Summer BBQs

Summer barbecues provide families with an opportunity to get together and enjoy delicious food. As part of your family, your dog can also join the fun but with some limitations. While there are many foods that are safe for dogs to eat, others may be harmful to your pet’s health. Learn what your dog can and cannot eat safely at your next summer cookout.

Safe BBQ Foods for Dogs

1. Grilled Veggies

Fresh vegetables cooked on the grill are a tasty and healthy addition to any summer BBQ. Options such as zucchini, broccoli, and sweet potatoes can be grilled and chopped up into small pieces for your pup to enjoy. Avoid adding any spices to your dog’s veggies and be sure to remove any skewers before offering your dog a bite.

2. Watermelon

Watermelon is a refreshing treat that your dog can enjoy on a hot summer day. This popular fruit is also a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. As watermelons are composed of approximately 92 percent water, they can also help your pet stay hydrated. Avoid feeding your dog the rinds and seeds.

3. Hamburgers

No summer barbecue is complete without some juicy hamburgers. When preparing hamburgers for your get-together, put aside a small chunk of ground beef for your pet. Prepare your dog’s burger without added oils, spices, and sauces. Ideally, you’ll want to use low-fat beef. Skip the bun or exchange it for slices of grilled sweet potato.

4. Berries

Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries are also delicious and healthy treats for dogs. Berries are known for their nutrients and antioxidant-rich properties, as well as their ability to lower inflammation and cholesterol. As berries contain natural sugars, you’ll want to feed your pet this summer treat in moderation.

5. Chicken Strips

No dog can resist the alluring smell and taste of grilled chicken. Chicken breast offers dogs a balanced treat containing 80 percent protein and 20 percent fat. Set aside some chicken for your pet and cut it into bite-sized strips. Do not add any coatings, spices, or sauces that could upset your pet’s stomach. Also, never give your dog chicken bones.

Unsafe BBQ Foods for Dogs

1. Onions and Garlic

It’s not uncommon to see onion and garlic at barbecues, often added to burgers, veggies, and other summer recipes. However, these fragrant foods can be harmful to your pet’s health, potentially destroying blood cells and even causing anemia. Ensure that the dishes you feed your pet at the BBQ are free of onions and garlic.

2. Fatty Foods

While the occasional fatty food will not usually harm your pet, too much fat can cause health problems in dogs. High-fat beef, butter, chicken skin, gravy, and similar foods have the potential to cause pancreatitis in animals. Pancreatitis is an inflammatory reaction in the pancreas that can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, and inappetence.

3. Grapes

While many types of fresh fruits are safe for dogs to eat, grapes are not one of them. Grapes, as well as raisins, are known to be highly toxic to dogs due to the presence of tartaric acid. When ingested, grapes and raisins can cause excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, and even kidney damage or failure.

4. Cooked Bones

If you plan on grilling up some chicken or other meat at your summer barbecue, you may have some leftover bones. It’s best to safely discard these bones and never feed them to your pet. Cooked bones can splinter, causing injury to your dog’s mouth, throat, or intestinal tract.

5. Alcohol

While you may think that pouring out a bit of booze for your dog to slurp up is harmless, alcohol can actually be harmful to your pet’s health. Dogs are unable to metabolize alcohol, making it a toxic substance that can cause respiratory depression, lethargy, and low body temperature. Keep wine, beer, and other alcohol away from your pet.

General Dog Safety at a BBQ

  • Ensure that cooked food has sufficiently cooled down before feeding it to your dog.
  • Wooden skewers commonly used for kabobs and similar foods can be a major hazard for pets and should be avoided.
  • Do not feed your pet corn on the cob as the cob could become lodged in your pet’s intestines.
  • Supervise your pets during the barbecue and ask guests not to feed your pet without permission.
  • Use lidded trash receptacles to prevent your dog from stealing food that could cause health problems.
  • Put down the lid of the grill whenever you’re not actively grilling to protect curious pups from burns and other injuries.
  • Keep charcoal, lighter fluid, and matches out of reach of your dog.
  • Consider securing your dog with a leash or keeping him in a secure area during the barbecue.
  • Provide your dog with a constant source of fresh, cool water to ensure that he stays hydrated.

Warmer weather means plenty of cookouts and get-togethers with family and friends. Just like you, your dog likes to spend time outdoors, enjoying the sun and of course delicious summer treats. However, you’ll want to take the proper precautions before allowing your pet to sample food at the barbecue. Always do your research prior to giving your pet any type of new food to ensure that it is safe and healthy.

Ready to start saving money on pet wellness care?

Then take a look at Mint Wellness, the pet wellness plan that provides fast reimbursement on routine pet care. Save on vaccinations, wellness exams, preventatives, dental, and more!

Learn More