That moment we’ve all been waiting for is finally here! BBQ season has arrived, and humans and animals alike are gazing at their grills with yearning in their eyes.
A BBQ can be the perfect occasion to celebrate the summer season, indulge in a delicious treat, and relax with friends, family, and furry pals alike. But while you personally might enjoy a full BBQ spread for lunch, how many of those morsels are actually suitable for your dog?
Picking out BBQ foods for dogs that are safe, tasty, and perfect for a dog-friendly BBQ takes a little planning, but it doesn’t need to be overly complicated.
Let’s take a look at what you need to know about BBQ foods for dogs, general canine BBQ safety, and more…
First things first, be very careful with your dog around the barbecue itself
BBQ gatherings are often pretty boisterous and fun, with people moving around, laughing, and loving life – and this upbeat energy is likely to rub off on your dog.
Unfortunately, an energetic, curious dog and a hot grill can be a dangerous combination – especially if your pup is inexperienced or untrained in how to act around hot surfaces and other potential hazards.
So, the first point in hosting a dog-friendly BBQ is to keep a close eye on your canine companion and to not let them get too close to the barbecue itself. You don’t want any accidents around fire and heat.
Here are a few steps you can take to keep your dog safe around the barbecue…
- Keep a covered container nearby to collect bones and debris – you don’t want your dog eating these
- Secure your dog with a leash
- Keep the barbecue cover on as much as possible – to prevent your curious pup from jumping up and burning themselves on the grill
- Keep harmful materials well out of reach – including matches, charcoal, lighter fluid, and sharp BBQ utensils and tools
- Keep food well out of reach
What BBQ food can dogs eat?
This is the question that’s most likely to trip up well-meaning humans when they want to spoil their canine companions. Can you give dogs BBQ meat? How about grilled veg? Is marinade ok? And just what does a BBQ for dogs actually look like, in terms of sides and dessert?
Do not feed your dog…
So, you’ve just finished enjoying a succulent T-bone steak, and then you notice your best canine buddy looking up at you wistfully. Should you give them the bone off your plate to enjoy?
Definitely not. Although it’s a well-known fact that dogs like to gnaw on bones, cooked bones are actually a major safety hazard. They’re brittle, splinter easily, and can cause severe internal injury to your dog.
Grilled portobello mushroom
A grilled portobello mushroom is a great plant-based BBQ treat, and can serve as an excellent burger patty alternative, or addition.
Unfortunately, you should refrain from sharing these with your dog. While it’s actually safe for your dog to eat plain grilled portobello mushrooms, it’s still not advised – because of the risk that this will encourage them seek out poisonous wild mushrooms to eat during walks.
Fatty cuts of meat
Fatty cuts of meat may be a guilty pleasure for many people, but they shouldn’t find any place in your dog’s diet – even during barbecue season.
Dogs don’t deal well with fatty foods, and can experience complications ranging from digestive upset, to weight gain, all the way to potentially life-threatening pancreatitis, if they indulge.
If some of your food is lightly burnt from the grill, you might feel like giving it to your dog would be a decent way of getting rid of it while making them happy, too.
Unfortunately, burnt food is unhealthy and cause your dog digestive distress – so it’s firmly on the ‘no’ list.
Onions and garlic
For humans, onions and garlic are very healthy foods that can add a lot of excellent flavour to a BBQ meal. For dogs, though, they’re outright harmful and should be avoided along with other members of the ‘allium’ family (such as leeks and scallions).
All these foods contain thiosulphate, which can damage your dog’s red blood cells and contribute to anaemia, weakness, fatigue, rapid breathing, and more.
Fortunately, research suggests you’d need to give your dog a huge dose of garlic for them to be in serious danger (more than 5g of whole garlic per kg of bodyweight) – but it should still be avoided altogether.
Raw, boiling, or salty potatoes
Barbecued baked potatoes are a classic for a reason… because they’re delicious!
If you want to share these little parcels of joy with your dog, though, be sure they’re fully cooked through, haven’t been cooked with added salt, and are cool to the touch.
Raw potatoes contain solanine which is toxic to dogs, hot potatoes can obviously hurt your dog, and anything with added salt is a no-go, as it can contribute to salt poisoning (hypernatremia) and dehydration.
If you were thinking of skipping the grilling process for your dog’s cut of meat altogether, and just serving it to them uncooked, think again.
Raw or undercooked meat shouldn’t be fed to dogs, as there’s always the risk of contamination with bacteria such as salmonella and listeria.
Corn on the cob
Corn on the cob is a standard BBQ staple, and may seem innocent enough on the surface, but you should never feed it to your dog.
While corn itself isn’t toxic to dogs, the cob presents a real risk. It can create an obstruction in your dog’s digestive system, and may even lead to a severe injury such as a ruptured intestine.
We hope it goes without saying – but you should never give your dog a kebab skewer to eat, under any circumstances.
Even if what you put on the skewer is safe for your dog to enjoy, the skewer itself can cause your pup very serious injuries if accidentally eaten – and even splinters from the skewer are enough to do harm.
Do feed your dog…
Bell peppers (raw or cooked)
Bell peppers often find their way onto the grill in-between the more traditional staples, and they’re a great snack for your dog to dig into as well!
These colourful vegetables are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, and can be fed to your dog either cooked or raw – although some dogs may struggle to chew raw bell peppers.
Just be sure that you don’t mix these up with hot peppers (which you should never feed your dog), and that – as with all BBQ foods for dogs – you serve them unseasoned.
Unseasoned lean cuts of cooked meat
Lean cuts of meat – ranging from grilled chicken breast to lean cuts of steak – can all be tasty treats for your dog to indulge in during a BBQ get-together. Just be sure to avoid giving them meat that’s been spiced or marinated, as this may cause complications – and remember to never feed your dog cooked bones!
Setting aside a few cuts of meat for your dog in advance, and cooking them plain, is the best course of action here.
Cooked, unsalted potatoes
When properly cooked (without salt) and allowed to cool, baked potatoes can be a delicious delicacy for your dog. They’re rich in essential nutrients, they digest well, and they pack an energy-rich punch to nourish your pup, too.
As mentioned before, however, make sure to cook any potatoes all the way through and allow them to cool before feeding them to your dog – and only if they were prepared without salt or other seasonings. It’s important to also cut them into small enough pieces, appropriate for your dog's size.
Grilled (boneless) salmon
Grilled, boneless salmon is delicious, rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, and it’s a good source of protein for your dog – so feel free to give them a helping! (Unseasoned, of course).
Just be sure to select fresh boneless fillets to prevent potential injury.
Well-cooked, low-fat, and unseasoned hotdogs can be a tasty BBQ treat for your dog – and they’re easy to prepare, too!
We recommend cutting the hotdogs up into small pieces after cooking, to allow them to cool, and then feeding them to your dog one as a time, as a treat.
Courgette (cooked or raw)
Sliced up courgette can be a tasty and healthy treat for your dog, both raw and cooked. It’s rich in nutrients, it’s light and easy to chew, and it tastes great!
Of course, your dog’s likely to be especially grateful for their serving of courgette if it’s been grilled to perfection first. Just remember – as always – no seasoning.
Watermelon (with seeds and rind removed)
Watermelon can be a delicious hydrating dessert for your dog, following all the exciting grilled gourmet treats they’ve been eating.
If you’re giving your dog a slice of watermelon, though, be sure to remove all the seeds and rind in advance – as these can cause digestive issues. Also, feed in moderation, otherwise it can easily cause an upset stomach.
Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries
You’ll be glad to know that these summer berries are superfoods, not just for us humans, but also for our dogs!
Packed to the brim with powerful antioxidants, vitamins, and beneficial fibre among other things, these berries are low in calories and taste stunning. If you’ve got a bowl of them at hand and see your dog looking at you wistfully, feel free to give them a portion.
Everyone loves a BBQ, and our furry best friends are no exception! But if your dog could use a bit of extra digestive support to savour their favourite morsels, why not consider giving them YuMOVE Digestive Care to help support their digestive health, top up good bacteria, and block bad bacteria?