The summer party season is on the way out as Labor Day draws near. But in South Florida, it’s still prime BBQ, grilling, and family feast time! Just thinking of all the amazing foods makes my mouth water – from delicious burgers and amazing hot dogs to twice baked potatoes and corn on the cob! And as much as we love our cookouts, so do our pets. Our fur babies would love to feast on all the amazing cookout food, however, there are many human foods that are toxic to dogs and cats.
As a small animal veterinarian, I see a lot of food toxicities and upset stomachs following parties and cookouts because of table scraps and foods that guests give to pets. With Labor Day around the corner and my menu plans for our own family’s Autumn Feast in full gear, I thought I would take a moment to discuss party food safety for your pets.
So let’s get started!
Party Foods Toxic to Dogs and Cats
Summer is great for parties, and what’s a party without food?! I certainly love hosting, but parties and cookouts can be harmful to our pets. Dogs and cats are used to eating the same food every day. Their gastrointestinal tracts develop a natural flora or bacteria that specifically digests their regular food. So adding anything out of the ordinary can have serious implications.
1. Rich and fatty foods
When our pets eat something they aren’t accustomed to eating, such as greasy burgers or hot dogs, they can develop severe inflammation with vomiting and diarrhea. Unfortunately, rich foods can also cause more serious conditions, such as pancreatitis.
2. Corn on the cob and fruits with pits
These foods can pose a risk of choking or obstruction. I have surgically removed all of these items from a pet’s intestine, which can be very costly and stressful.
3. Onions, garlic, and chives
Onions, garlic, and chives can cause gastrointestinal irritation, leading to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if they consume a large enough amount.
4. Uncooked meat, fish, and poultry
Any uncooked meats can contain so many disease-causing bacteria, such as E. coli, and parasites like Toxoplasma Gondii.
5. Foods with bones, toothpicks, or skewers
These foods (and items) are also choking hazards. Even small bones can splinter and cause tearing throughout the intestinal tract, requiring surgery.
6. Salt and salty snack foods
Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination. Excess salt can even cause sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs of salt toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures, and even death.
7. Grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, and xylitol (an artificial sweetener)
While most of these snacks are healthy for humans, they are all toxic for your pets.
8. Uncooked yeast dough
So you’re making rolls? Yeast dough can expand and produce gas in the digestive system, causing pain and possible rupture of the stomach or intestines.
So scary, right?!
9. Chocolate, coffee, and tea
What do these foods have in common? They all contain dangerous components called xanthines, which cause nervous system or urinary system damage and heart muscle stimulation. Problems from ingestion range from diarrhea to seizures and death. Unsweetened baking chocolate and dark chocolate are the most toxic to our pets.
Just like in humans, alcoholic beverages can cause intoxication in our pets. Dogs may be attracted to the sweet taste and smell, so be careful when serving alcohol at your parties.
I hope these party tips are helpful in keeping your pets safe and healthy at your Labor Day functions. During your cookouts, make sure to talk to any guests, especially kids, and remind them not to feed your pets any party foods. You want to enjoy the party, too, not spend it looking after a pet with an upset stomach or a toxicity!
On the bright side, there is no need for your pets to feel left out during your cookouts – so let them indulge a little, too! I tell all my pet parents to have their pets’ treats and food easily accessible during the cookout and to spoil their pets rotten. My goal is to always keep your pets safe, healthy, and happy!