The guest list is complete, the groceries are bought, and the charcoal is ready to go. You are prepared to light the grill for your first cookout this summer. Before the guests arrive, take certain precautions to ensure your pet stays safe during the gathering. The team at Caldwell Animal Hospital enlisted Blake the black Lab’s help to relay a few crucial cookout safety tips. Blake is a cookout professional. He started attending barbecues as a puppy and has since been to numerous cookouts, making him the perfect dog to give advice on this quintessential summer experience.

Blake the black Lab’s #1 tip: Ensure you can find your pet if they go missing during the party

I am a cookout expert, so I would never run away when my owner is distracted, but when I was a puppy, I was afraid when so many strangers started coming to our house. I did not like all the commotion, and I bolted when my owner was handing out cocktails to the new guests. Luckily, I had identification tags that helped a neighbor bring me home safely. My owner had me microchipped at my next wellness visit to further ensure I could always find my way home. If your pet gets upset at large gatherings, they will likely be more happy left at home, or in a safe place inside your home if you are the host.

Blake’s #2 tip: Ensure your pet does not eat party food

As a barbecue pro, I know better than to eat any party food. I learned that lesson the hard way after eating a platter full of hot dogs. My stomach was upset for several days! Any sudden change in your pet’s diet can result in stomach upset, and certain foods can actually be toxic to pets. Foods such as avocados, onion, garlic, alcohol, and chocolate can all be toxic for your pet.

I also once nearly swallowed plastic wrap in my younger, less disciplined years. I was scrounging in the garbage, and the plastic wrap was covered in yummy barbecue sauce. My owner was able to grab the plastic wrap before I swallowed, saving me a trip to the emergency room to remove an intestinal blockage. Cooked bones are another hazard for your pet. The brittle bones can break, causing your pet to choke or damage their esophagus. Keep all food and garbage containers sealed and in areas your pet cannot reach. If your pet does ingest a toxic food, contact the team at Caldwell Animal Hospital or Animal Poison Control. My owner provides special pet friendly treats for me during the party so I am not tempted to steal a savory treat.

Blake’s #3 tip: Monitor your pet closely for heat exhaustion

I stay in the shade and drink water frequently when I attend a cookout. Heat exhaustion can be life-threatening for your pet if not addressed promptly. Signs include excessive panting and drooling, lethargy, red mucous membranes, vomiting, diarrhea, seizure, and collapse. Ensure your pet has access to cool, shady areas, and offer them clean, fresh water frequently. If your pet shows concerning signs, take them to a cool, well-ventilated area, and offer them cool water. Sponge them down, also with cool water, and get them to Caldwell Animal Hospital as soon as possible.

Blake’s #4 tip: Watch your pet closely around swimming pools

I am a natural swimmer, but not all pets are comfortable in the water. Also, pets who drink the chlorinated pool water can develop gastrointestinal upset. If your pet does not know how to use the pool stairs, they can have a hard time getting out. When I was a puppy, I jumped in to cool off on a hot day, but I could not figure out how to get out. Fortunately, my owner jumped in and showed me how to use the pool stairs. I was starting to get really scared. You do not want your pet to become a drowning victim on a fun summer day.

Blake’s #5 tip: Do not allow your pet near the grill

As a cookout professional, I follow the National Fire Prevention Association’s recommendation to stay at least three feet from a lighted grill. If your pet is tempted by the sizzling grill aromas, they may accidentally knock over the grill and cause a fire, or injure themselves. If you cannot trust your pet to stay away from the grill, keep them leashed during the barbecue.

Blake’s #6 tip: Protect your pet from parasites

I remind my owner every month to apply my parasite preventives. Mosquitoes and ticks are common annoyances at outdoor gatherings, but can be more than irritating for your pet. Mosquitoes transmit heartworms that can cause severe, life-threatening damage to your pet’s heart and lungs. Ticks carry several illnesses, such as Lyme disease and anaplasmosis, that can be extremely detrimental to your pet’s well-being. Providing year-round heartworm and tick and flea preventives is the best way to protect your pet.

Blake plans to enjoy several cookouts this summer. Hopefully, by following his helpful tips, you and your pet can become barbecue experts, too, but do not hesitate to call us if your pet does get into trouble, despite your efforts. Also, if you would like your pet microchipped, or to discuss parasite prevention methods, contact our team at Caldwell Animal Hospital to schedule an appointment.