Dogs are omnivores and many don’t know when they’re full, so BBQ provides an irresistible treat they would wolf down if given the chance.
BBQ can be harmful for dogs due to the high amount of salt and sodium it contains, so steer clear of marinated meats and spicy foods such as BBQ sauce. You should also avoid allium foods such as onion, garlic and chives, while capsicum foods like chillies and peppers are also not a good idea.
Let’s dive down into whether dogs should eat BBQ food at all, and consider the types of foods it’s just about ok to feed your pooch in small portions. We’ll also list all the harmful foods that you should never feed your hungry hound.
Is it OK For Dogs To Eat BBQ Food?
Dogs are omnivores. They eat plants and animals – basically everything. When you are outside, grilling delicious meats, they are going to want some. But should you share that BBQ deliciousness with your doggos?
The answer is – yes – the list of the things you can share safely with your pooches (in moderation) is nice and long. But there’s also a list of the things that will harm your furry babies.
Grilling parties are outside affairs. Usually casual – lots of mingling. Maybe alcohol. Kids running around. Dogs playing nicely with kids – or are they?
Dogs are clever at getting delicious stuff. They counter crawl. They hide under tables. Doggos give you those “puppy” eyes. Some pooches are patient and wait for permission, but some are crafty thieves. They are fast. One gulp and that cheese wheel is just – gone.
BBQ meats and vegetables are delicious. Sometimes they are grilled as is, natural and flavorful. But more often, we go to town with seasonings. Spices. Rubs. Marinades. Sauces.
There’s a mystique about BBQ sauces. Sauces have a long and fascinating history. Every region and every family has a favorite. In some places the recipe goes heavy on mustard, or some with ketchup and molasses. Some recipes add hot spices. Some add Bourbon. In every case, though, BBQ sauces and rubs are bad for furry babies.
Pooches should not be given any grilled meats with rubs, sauces, or other strong seasonings (like Texas-style pepper rubs). You can certainly share pieces of meat pulled off the bone – just wash them off first. BBQ guests and kids should be aware of the dangers to doggos of spicy seasonings and sauces.
At your BBQ party, be sure to place bowls of food – fruit salads, nuts, chips – in places where your clever canine can’t reach it. That’s an easy thing to do with small dogs, but if you have a Great Dane – well, good luck!
We humans love our furry buddies. We need them, and we need to protect them from themselves.
BBQ Food That’s Just About OK For Dogs (In Small Measure)
Dogs can eat white bread – in fact, they will love it. Bread just doesn’t add many nutrients to their diet. For high-energy dogs, bread will be fine. For couch potato dogs, not so much.
Try to keep them unsalted. Cashews have some good nutrients: calcium, magnesium, and protein and not too much fat.
Dogs love cheese and it won’t hurt them. Try to avoid the high-fat varieties and instead try mozzarella, cheddar, Swiss and Gouda.
Chicken is good for dogs. If you have rubbed or marinated the chicken, be sure to remove the skin before sharing meat pieces. Chicken bones should not be given to dogs.
Fish can give you and your dog a nice health boost, salmon in particular. Salmon is an excellent source of protein. Be sure to cook the salmon through (to 145°F).
Apples (cored and seeded), bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, mango, oranges, cranberries, peaches (no pits), pears (no pits), pineapple, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and watermelon (but no seeds) are all safe for your furry babies. Your doggos will love the natural sweetness, and they’re good for them.
Ham is not toxic to dogs and dogs will love it. Ham has more sodium than many meats, so only share a little.
Consider making “Fido” burgers without salt, onion powder or other spices that aren’t good for pooches.
Store-bought mushrooms are safe for dogs to eat. If you have seasoned the mushrooms, wash them off before sharing.
Peanuts and peanut butter are good for dogs. Try to give them unsalted peanuts.
Pork is a good meat choice for dogs. Be sure to wash off any of that delicious BBQ sauce or rub – too salty and sweet!
Pieces of rib meat – off the bone. Yum! Beef or pork ribs are delicious for you and your furry babies. Be sure to wash off any salty, sweet, peppery, or other rubs or sauces before sharing.
Dogs love white or brown rice, which can help with diarrhea. White rice is a common addition for dogs with stomach illnesses as it is extremely easy to digest.
Go for it! Just be sure to cook them fully and remove the tail, legs and head before sharing.
Yum! Your dogs will love you forever if you give them a piece of delicious steak. Wash off the steak before sharing if you’ve gone to town with the Chicago style seasoning mix or steak sauce.
Turkey is good for dogs. If you have rubbed the skin with butter, herbs, or spices, take the skin off before sharing.
Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cooked white potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, green beans, celery, carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers (no jalapeños or spicy peppers) are all good (no fat!) for your furry friends.
BBQ Food You Should Never Feed Your Dog
Anything with artificial sweeteners. But chocolate with the sweetener Xylitol is particularly toxic. Xylitol can be found in baked goods and candy, too. Within 30 minutes of eating Xylitol, it can lead to a drop in sugar levels and disorientation. Extreme cases lead to liver failure and death.
T-bones, chicken wings, cooked turkey bones – any kind of cooked bones. Bones aren’t good for dogs. They splinter and then become choking hazards or end up in your doggos’ intestines. Sharp pieces in your dog’s intestines can puncture them. Sharp pieces inside your dog’s mouths can injure tongue and teeth.
Many of us have beer or wine at our BBQ’s. Alcohol can be dangerous, even poisonous, to dogs. Hops can cause vomiting, increased heart rate, even death. Try to keep half-filled glasses out of reach of dogs (and kids). Pure vanilla extract, some types of Dijon mustard, some whipped creams, wine-flavored cheeses (remember that cheese wheel?), and sauces prepared with wine are all a danger to your doggos.
Cherry pits contain cyanide. In fact, many fruit pits are not only poisonous for dogs, but humans as well.
Chips and Pretzels
It’s the salt. Too much salt for dogs can lead to poisoning. Symptoms include: excessive thirst, urination, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Yep: plain old chocolate bars, chocolate chips in cookies, brownies, white chocolate toppings, chocolate cake, ice cream with chocolate sauce. NO CHOCOLATE AT ALL. Most folks know not to let your baby dogs have chocolate at all. Chocolate contains methylxanthines, which for dogs is a strong stimulant. Symptoms include: vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and heart arrhythmia.
Lemon and lime slices or peels for garnishes. Be sure to keep citrus away from your furry buddies. The essential oils in citrus plants can cause irritation in their mouths. Significant quantities can depress their nervous systems.
Coconut flesh, coconut water or coconut milk can upset your dog’s digestive system, causing vomiting and diarrhea.
Be careful not to let your doggos slurp up some leftover coffee or munch on the beans or grounds – like when they go through the trash. The caffeine in coffee (and tea) is toxic to dogs – even life threatening. Symptoms are: hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, tremors, arrhythmia and lung failure. Even small amounts of caffeine will affect your dog.
Corn on the cob
Corn is not toxic to dogs – giving dogs corn on the cob can be a choking hazard. Slice the corn off the cob first.
Guacamole is made from avocados and avocados contain persin. Persin is toxic to birds, rabbits, horses – and dogs. Guac can lead to stomach problems. If you put onions or garlic powder in the guac, that’s a double whammy for your dog.
Grapes and raisins
Experts are uncertain exactly why, but grapes can lead to kidney failure in dogs. Some dogs will be totally OK, but some dogs will start vomiting and diarrhea. Extreme cases result in death. Yikes!
We all love hot dogs, but hot dogs are high in sodium and preservatives. In fact, one hot dog will have 5 to 10 times more than your dog’s daily sodium allowance.
Experts aren’t sure exactly why, but just a couple of macadamia nuts per pound of dog body weight can lead to temporary paralysis.
Raw onion slices, onion rings, onions on a shish kebab, meats with onion powder, onions in pre-made hamburger patties. Shallots, leeks, garlic, chives, scallions. Raw onions are surprisingly toxic to dogs. Dogs don’t react to a stolen onion right away: it takes three to five days for your dog to show signs of illness. Symptoms include: weakness and darkly-colored urine.
Foods in the capsicum family such as peppers and chillies will not agree with your dog, so keep the kebabs with meat and BBQ veg out of the paws of your pooch.
Too much salt is bad for humans, but salt can be toxic for dogs. Sodium ion poisoning can lead to vomiting and diarrhea, even death. For any meat scraps you give dogs, wash it off first. Make sure you have a fresh, filled doggo water bowl out on those sunny BBQ days.
The red, ripe part of the tomato is OK for dogs, but the green leafy part can be toxic.
Some dogs and many puppies will eat – anything! Discarded cigarettes are toxic. Tobacco contains nicotine, which can be lethal. Symptoms are: vomiting, increase in heart rate, and tremors.
We all know dogs will wolf down anything given half a chance, so that’s why we should be ultra careful they don’t get their paws on the BBQ.
While small pieces of steak, fish and chicken are fine to give them as a treat – as are certain nuts, fruits and vegetables – feeding your dog spicy and marinated BBQ and various other foods on the ‘danger list’ could be potentially harmful for them.
The best thing to do is watch your dog like a hawk next time you fire up the grill. Perhaps one of the kids could have a special role to stop your family pet from chowing down on your BBQ ribs and burgers?
However you choose to handle it, we all love dogs and keeping them safe is well worth the effort.