With the August bank holiday weekend starting tonight, many Brits will be preparing to host the ultimate summer barbecue – but do we always consider the hidden hazards for our pets?
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing says: “From heatstroke and burns, to bin raids and broken glass, there are many potential dangers for pet owners to think about when firing up the grill. However, there’s lots of simple things you can do to make sure your barbecue is fun for everyone – including your four-legged friends!
1) A place to de-stress
“Having a house full of strangers may be overwhelming and quite stressful for pets, so try to give them plenty of opportunity to relax. Set up a quiet area in a separate room or corner of the garden so they can retreat if they feel stressed – for smaller pets like rabbits and guinea pigs, try covering part of their cage so they can hide away if they need to.
2) Skip the scraps
“Is your pooch a master of puppy dog eyes? Don’t give in! Barbecue scraps can upset your four-legged friend’s stomach and undercooked or fatty foods can make them very poorly. Bones can also be really harmful for pups, especially when cooked. Why not give them a healthy dog treat or chew toy to play with to keep them occupied while you sit back and enjoy your meal?
3) Dispose of dangers
“A big problem at barbecues can be pets getting hold of things they shouldn’t – whether it’s a kebab skewer or the core from a corn-on-the-cob, eating objects like this can cause serious and potentially life-threatening issues. Make sure any leftovers and things like corn-on-the-cobs, as well as rubbish, are thrown away in a bin that your four-legged friend can’t raid. Food smells are incredibly tempting for pets, so ensure your bin is secure enough to deter any wandering paws.
4) Beat the heat
“Always keep pets a safe distance from the barbecue. A stolen sausage off the grill is way too hot to handle! As well as hot food, coals and ashes can also cause serious burns, so ensure the barbecue is cooled down quickly once you’ve finished cooking and never leave your furry friends unsupervised while it’s still hot.
5) Keep them cool
“Pets can quickly overheat in the sun, so it’s important to keep them indoors or in some shade when they need to cool down. They also need to have access to fresh, clean water at all times, especially on scorching hot days. Consider having your barbecue in the evening to avoid the hottest part of the day.
6) Potential poisons
“If you’re using lighter fluid or firelighters to set your barbecue alight, make sure you store them well out of reach of furry friends. Think about other potential poisons too – keep alcoholic drinks, sugar-free treats and chocolate desserts out of temptation’s way for inquisitive pets.
7) Breathe easy
“Smoke can be very irritating for pets, especially as many of them have sensitive airways. Make sure your furry family members are kept away from the barbecue and not downwind of any fumes. This is especially important for small pets and birds; you might need to move their enclosure or the barbecue so they are well away from the smoke.”
PDSA is the vet charity for pets in need, preventing unnecessary suffering through treatment and education. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps PDSA reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. To support the charity’s vital work, visit pdsa.org.uk