As the summer heats up, so does the grill, since it’s the perfect time to enjoy mouthwatering meals cooked over an open flame. However, the delicious aroma of roasting meat and appealing side dishes is sure to make your pet want to sneak a bite. Although your furry pal wants an invitation to your summer barbecue, many hazards can lead to your pet requiring emergency care. Before busting out the tongs and your “Kiss the Cook” apron, double check your cookout area for potential dangers, and ensure your party is safe for your pet. Here are four cookout emergencies that could harm your pet, and ways to prevent them.

#1: Your pet gets into the trash can that’s filled with barbecue scraps

The grill is likely much more closely watched than the trash can, so your four-legged friend may make their move on the bag full of thrown-away treats. Chicken, rib, and steak bones may seem like great pet chew toys, but these cooked bones can easily splinter, piercing the gums, mouth, and entire gastrointestinal tract. They also can become stuck, and require emergency surgical removal. The same holds true for corn cobs, so prevent your pet from gnawing on these items.

The trash can may also be filled with spoiled food that sat out too long in the hot sun, aluminum foil covered in grease and seasonings, or sometimes bees that were drawn to the sweet scent of desserts and beverage cups. Whatever your pet may find in the trash can, you can guarantee the item should not be chewed on or ingested, because the result may be food toxicity, a gastrointestinal obstruction, pancreatitis, or an allergic reaction from a bee sting. Ensure the trash can lid is firmly in place, and that your pet cannot knock the can over.

#2: Your pet eats an entire bowl of potato salad, guacamole, or other side dish

Side dishes are typically packed with seasonings and other ingredients to give them extra flavor but many of these items can be dangerous for your pet. Foods high in fat, like mayonnaise-loaded potato salad and guacamole, can lead to life-threatening pancreatitis, while onions, garlic, and chives can cause anemia. Bags of salty snacks, such as potato chips and pretzels, can be hazardous if eaten in large amounts, because of the high sodium content. Be aware of unattended food left on the picnic table, as your resourceful pet can likely find a way to sneak into the dishes without being noticed. If your pet cannot be trusted around the table, keep them indoors with their own tasty snack, such as a rubber Kong stuffed with peanut butter, yogurt, cheese, or canned food.

#3: Your pet takes off with the T-bone steak

Nothing is more attractive to your pet than the smell of grilling meat, and a thick, juicy T-bone steak is no exception. If you step away from the grill, your pet may see an opportunity to snatch a bite, but their daring can lead to burned paws, or a singed muzzle and, depending on the severity, may require emergency veterinary care to alleviate the pain of their burns. If your pet is lucky enough to snag the steak without getting burned, they can still suffer from pancreatitis from eating the fat, or a gastrointestinal obstruction if they gulp down the bone. Never leave your grill unattended, and ensure your pet cannot access the area until the grill has completely cooled off. Additionally, when you have finished cooking, always clean up spilled grease that will tempt your pet.

#4: Your pet was sprayed with DEET-containing insect repellent

Mosquitoes and other biting insects can ruin a cookout, and you want your pet to be comfortable, too. But, avoid spraying your pet with an insect repellent containing DEET. While highly effective at keeping you bite-free, DEET can be toxic for your pet. This ingredient can cause eye damage, airway inflammation, difficulty breathing, disorientation, tremors, and seizures. If your pet was accidentally sprayed with a DEET-containing repellent, wash them thoroughly, and contact our team for further advice.

Although we hope your summer cookouts go smoothly, pets are notorious for finding ways to get into mischief. If your furry pal steals a steak or gobbles down the guacamole, contact our Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center team for help.