Summer BBQs and your Pets

The evenings are longer, the sun is shining, it is the perfect time of year to enjoy outdoor meals in the back yard or at one of our amazing Vancouver Island beaches. Who doesn’t love a summer BBQ? Our canine companions love to be part of the action.

The time spent outside with family is so much fun for everyone.  Unfortunately, dogs are not known for their selective eating habits and can often find themselves in trouble from either being fed table scraps or scavenging on the leftovers when no one is looking! As veterinarians, at Van Isle Veterinary Hospital we often see a spike in dietary indiscretion cases this time of year.  Sometimes the owner has actually witnessed their dog eating something it shouldn’t, but it is more often the case that their dog shows signs of stomach upset, such as vomiting, diarrhea or anorexia with no known reason.   The cause can be as simple as an unusual meal that leads to some minor stomach issues to a more serious case of something lodged in the digestive tract or pancreatic inflammation.  Left untreated, a gastrointestinal foreign body or even pancreatitis can become potentially life threatening.

There are many very tempting common summer treats that can cause serious health issues with our pooches:

  • Corn Cobs – (one of the most common foreign body removal surgeries we do this time of year)
  • Bones – (of any variety – steak, rib, chicken)
  • Fatty meats (steak, pork, hamburgers)
  • Rich “picnic style” foods which cause pancreatitis (potato chips/potato salads etc.)

Dogs especially love the taste of bones, and owners love to give them but they don’t digest and are a common cause of esophageal or intestinal blockage.  These blockages often lead to abdominal surgery to remove.  Some bones can be harder than a dog’s teeth and actually cause the teeth to fracture, potentially necessitating a root canal or extraction.

To avoid unnecessary health issues and vet visits, it is important to pay extra attention during summer cook-outs.  Keep food safely out of reach of pets and keep garbage covered and away!  The healthiest thing for your four-legged buddy is his own dog food and treats but if you really want to allow him to indulge in the summer eating, small quantities of lean meat such as cooked chicken breast or green veggies are the safest things to offer.

By Dr. Yvette Maclean – Van Isle Veterinary Hospital