The scene: Rocky’s family is having people over for a barbecue, and he is so excited. Unfortunately, he is also a mischievous and rather accident-prone boxer, so he is going to need some help to stay safe. 

Prevent pets from escaping

Rocky: Mom! Dad! There are hoomans coming to my yard. I love new hoomans so much! Oooh, and there are more hoomans down the street. And a kitty! I must go visit them!

If Rocky’s owners aren’t careful, he is going to enthusiastically dash out of the yard as the guests are arriving and could get lost, or hit by a car. To keep him safe, they should keep him inside until all the guests arrive, or keep him on a leash so he doesn’t sneak away during the commotion. He should also be microchipped and have a collar with identifying tags, in case he does manage to escape.

Keep dangerous foods away from pets

Rocky: Hey! The hoomans brought food! So much yummy food! And they left it right here on a table for memy own private buffet. They are busy playing and talking, so I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if I started eating without them.

Rocky is about to indulge in another picnic pitfall—the abundance of potentially dangerous but tantalizing foods. Munching on the following foods may not end so well for Rocky.

  • Greasy or fatty foods — If Rocky eats a hamburger or other greasy delicacies, he may experience a gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting and diarrhea, or pancreatitis, a painful and potentially life-threatening pancreas inflammation.
  • Grapes or raisins — If Rocky snacks on the grapes in a fruit salad, or the raisins in trail mix, that could  lead to kidney failure, or death.
  • Chocolate — Eating a whole pan of dark chocolate brownies, or all the chocolate bars for s’mores, may seem fun for Rocky at the time, but could lead to vomiting, diarrhea, high blood pressure, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythms, or tremors.
  • Fruits with pits — Sliced peaches in a fruit salad are not a problem, but if Rocky eats a peach, plum, avocado or other pit-containing fruit whole, the pit could cause a stomach or intestinal blockage.
  • Other snacks — Macadamia nuts, onions, garlic, and xylitol-containing foods would also present a toxicity risk if Rocky consumes them.
  • Drinks — Iced coffee or alcoholic drinks are best enjoyed by humans, not Rocky. The caffeine in coffee could cause signs similar to chocolate ingestion, and alcohol could cause vomiting, diarrhea, incoordination, difficulty breathing, tremors, or death. 

To keep Rocky out of trouble, his owners should keep him inside while people are eating, place potentially dangerous foods out of his reach, or supervise him closely while outside. Guests should also be informed that no matter how much Rocky turns on the charm, they are not allowed to slip him food. Parents should watch small children closely to avoid toxic foods being accidentally—or perhaps not accidentally—dropped on the ground for Rocky. In the event that Rocky steals some forbidden foods, his owners should promptly call Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, or Pet Poison Helpline for advice.

Guard your pets from the grill

Rocky: Ohhh! Now they are starting up the grill. This is so exciting. I think I feel some zoomies coming on. Yup, it’s definitely the zoomies. Wheeeee! I’m off!

A hot grill may pose a burn risk for pets like Rocky, who gleefully zoom around the yard, oblivious to their surroundings, and then collide with the searing hot metal, or dump burning charcoal on themselves. Ideally, Rocky should be kept inside or on a leash while the grill is in use, and not released until the grill is fully cooled. If this is not possible, he should be kept at least three feet from the grill at all times. Whoever is manning the grill must stay close, to deter Rocky from snatching a cooking hotdog, and burning his mouth.

Rocky: Sniff, sniff, sniff. Do I smell some delicious grease? I do! It is right over here on some gravel next to the grill. Lick, lick, gulp. Did I swallow a rock? Oh well, they taste great!

The grease trap on a grill should be emptied frequently in a location that Rocky cannot access. Otherwise, licking the grease will put him at risk for pancreatitis, or a GI obstruction from consuming grease-coated gravel, as he is happily doing now.

Place trash out of pets’ reach

Rocky: All the hoomans are throwing their perfectly delicious trash in a bag tied to the table. Good thing it is right at dog height, and I can grab a snack!

The trash bag at a barbecue may contain the dangerous foods already discussed, as well as corn cobs, wrappers, or barbecue skewers that could cause GI obstruction or perforation if Rocky decides to go dumpster diving. Ensure trash cans have securely fitting lids, and place them where Rocky cannot get into them. 

Not all pets have Rocky’s ornery streak, but if your furry friend gets into a spot of barbecue trouble, contact Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital so our team can get them back to causing mischief in no time.