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Breed & Health Resources

BBQ Foods: What is dangerous for your pet?

By Lea Jaratz


When cookout season kicks off, we see an uptick in claims for some of the most popular summer foods sending dogs to the vet. It’s scary and can even end in tragedy when a pet eats something harmful or toxic at what is supposed to be a fun weekend get together. To help you and your pet have a party-filled summer while steering clear of the emergency vet’s office, we’re taking a look at what foods your dog should avoid and offer up a few treats your dog can try at your next backyard BBQ, as well as offering some healthy alternatives.

Foods to Avoid

1. Cooked Bones

Rib bones, pork bones, chicken bones, and lamb bones can cause serious problems for a dog. Most dogs can bite and splinter bones, which results in sharp bits being swallowed. If it doesn’t get lodged in their throat or mouth, it can still cause problems on the way out, including perforating their stomach or intestines. Cooked bones are one of the top causes of food related blockages and often require surgery to remove them. In the best case scenario, they get pancreatitis, which is still pretty bad. It’s best to avoid giving your dog any bones.

2. Corn on the Cob

You’d be surprised how many dogs actually want corn on the cob. That warm, roasted, buttery smell is hard to pass up, and after a dog steals a corn cob from the table or the trash can, they’re likely to scarf it down fast to hide the evidence – just ask Hazel, an Embraced Greyhound who snatched the corn cob right out of her mom’s hand. Once a corn cob is swallowed, it’s absolutely not going to digest and you’re likely looking at surgery before it causes serious damage. Don’t underestimate how dangerous a corn cob is, or how much it costs to remove. 

3. Pineapple Core

The good news is that pineapple is a good treat for dogs and provides a few health benefits. The bad news is that if a dog grabs the core, it can cause choking, digestive issues, and blockages. If you’re going to give your dog pineapple, make sure to ditch the skin and core. Only give them sliced or cubed fresh pineapple and only give small amounts on occasion.

Other foods that are toxic for dogs:

● Grapes
● Onions
● Chocolate
● Alcohol
● Avocado
● Xylitol
● Asparagus
● Cherries

Safe Pet-friendly Picnic Alternatives 

Hamburgers and Hot Dogs

No dog is going to turn away a grilled hamburger or hot dog. It’s okay to share these meats with your dog, but hold the onions and make sure the pieces are small enough to prevent choking. Don’t overdo it, or you’ll risk an upset stomach. A few bites of burger will be the highlight of your dog’s summer.

BBQ Sauce

Yes, it’s actually okay to put a little BBQ sauce on your dog’s treat. You can put some on their kibble to give them some smoky flavor once in a while or mix it with water and gravy and freeze it to give them a cool treat. We’ve got a few other frozen treat recipes here too!

Grilled or Baked Veggies

Grilled zucchini, baked sweet potatoes, carrots, and tomatoes are fine in moderation and make for a fun shared snack with your dog.


Most dogs enjoy seedless watermelon (skip the rind), strawberries, cucumber, apples, cantaloupe, blueberries, and even mango. A little goes a long way and can cause diarrhea in some dogs, so just give them a little. You can also freeze fruit to give them some enrichment with their snack.

Pro-tip: Once you give a dog any of these treats, they’ll be coming back for more. This might disturb your meal or cause bad habits, so it’s generally better if you give the treats in your dog’s bowl to prevent tableside begging.

Mind if we pay your vet bills?

Pet health insurance is administered by Embrace Pet Insurance Agency, LLC and underwritten by one of the licensed insurers of American Modern Insurance Group, Inc., including American Modern Home Insurance Company d/b/a in CA as American Modern Insurance Company (Lic. No 2222-8), and American Southern Home Insurance Company. Coverage is subject to policy terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions, underwriting review, and approval, and may not be available for all risks or in all states. Rates and discounts vary, are determined by many factors, and are subject to change. Wellness Rewards is offered as a supplementary, non-insurance benefit administered by Embrace Pet Insurance Agency in the United States. © 2020 American Modern Insurance Group, Inc.  Wellness Rewards not available in Rhode Island.