Food for thought? Pet owners warned to be extra vigilant this August bank holiday

Co-op Insurance data shows average vet claim for pet food poisoning to be upwards of £552*

  • Stomach problems is one of the most common reasons for dog and cat owners to have visited the vet over the last 12 months, according to research from Co-op Insurance
  • Co-op Insurance and FirstVet highlight list of foods to keep pets away from at BBQ’s
  • Co-op Insurance warns owners to be extra vigilant with their pets this bank holiday weekend if planning a barbeque

Co-op Insurance is advising pet owners to be extra vigilant with their pets when barbequing this Bank Holiday weekend, as claims data shows the average cost for a visit to the vet for food poisoning is over £552*, with the increased risk of them consuming or being fed food they shouldn’t.

Whilst it might be tempting to share what’s on your dinner plate with your dog or cat, new Co-op Insurance research highlights ‘stomach problems’ attributed to consuming something they shouldn’t, as one of the top reasons for vet visits within the last 12 months – ranking 4th out of 10.

Co-op Insurance’s partner FirstVet – a 24/7 independent digital veterinary clinic – advises against the following food and drink items commonly found at barbeques.

BBQ Watch outs for your Dog or Cat:

  • Bones – these can cause trauma to the gastrointestinal tract and/or constipation
  • Wooden Skewers/cocktail sticks – these are extremely dangerous if dogs or cats eat them, as not only can they get lodged in their throat causing trauma, but if swallowed, they can puncture through the intestinal tract wall potentially resulting in surgery being required to remove them
  • High-fat foods (such as sausages and beef burgers) – these can be a risk factor for pancreatitis
  • Corn on the cob – the husks are not digestible and can cause a blockage in the intestinal tract
  • Onions – can also be toxic
  • Garlic – can be toxic in certain quantities
  • Avocado – this can contain persin, which can be toxic to dogs and cats
  • Alcohol – toxicity from alcohol is a common pet poisoning amongst dogs and cats.

Andrew Nevitt, Head of Co-op Pet Insurance, said: “As Co-op research shows, stomach issues are already a very common reason for vet visits amongst dog and cat owners. Whilst we love our pets and would do anything for them, it’s important that we consider their health before allowing them to eat anything that may cause illness.

“We know that vet bills can prove quite costly, and an unplanned visit to the vet would certainly be unwelcome for many during the current increased cost of living. Whilst insurance can provide a financial safety net for pet owners should they be faced with such a situation, we would advise dog and cat owners to be extra vigilant this August bank holiday when enjoying their barbeques.”

Dr Emma Bower, Lead Vet at FirstVet, said: “Despite a more unsettled summer this year, we know that these milder months are the perfect time to spend outdoors, for both people and pets. However, during this time vets tend to see an increase in appointments for owners that are worried about possible toxicities and pets that have eaten things that they shouldn’t have done.

“Should this happen, the most important thing is to not panic! Contact a vet straight away, who can help assess the risk and advise on necessary next steps.

“When it comes to a pet having eaten something they shouldn’t, a big factor vets will need to consider is their weight. We would often advise that when you take your pet for their routine health checks, always make a note of their weight so that should you need it, a vet can tell you if the amount they have consumed is dangerous for them.

“As with most things, prevention is always key, so we would always advise to keep your dogs and cats away from those foods and drinks that we know aren’t good for them.”

For more information about Co-op pet insurance plans, including 24/7 access to FirstVet, visit: or the purchase of non-grocery related goods and services, the Co-operative Group non-grocery standard purchasing terms apply to all orders placed, save where a contract is negotiated and agreed. For full details please go to

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