Planning to Barbecue This Memorial Day? Practice these Pet Safety Tips

May 25, 2017

a dog at a picnic

For many, Memorial Day marks the (unofficial) start of summer. With this sunny seasonal change comes the emergence of one thing in particular: barbecue season. You may be planning a cookout of your own, or planning to attend a friend’s, but whatever the case, you may want to take a moment to think about your furry friends. Pets can enjoy barbecues as much as their two-legged counterparts,  but there are a few things the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) wants you to keep in mind to help your four-legged friends stay safe at any barbecue bashes this Memorial Day.  

Guard the grill! Grilling can make for some tasty food, but some of the products used with a grill can be harmful to pets if ingested. Charcoal briquettes and lighter fluid can cause gastrointestinal distress, while grill cleaners can cause burns to the mouth and gastrointestinal tract.

Show caution around citronella torches. Keeping the bugs away during your outdoor activities can be important, and citronella torches are a great way to keep them at bay. However, if some of the torch fluid spills, you’ll want to make sure to keep your pet far away. The fluid commonly used in citronella torches can cause gastrointestinal upset and possible aspiration if ingested. If your pet walks through the liquid or rolls in it, it can cause skin irritation, or in severe cases, chemical burns.

Slather your sunscreen safely. Some pets may try to eat sunscreen. The ingestion of sunscreen products can result in serious problems for pets, including drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. Also, make sure to never apply sunscreen to your pet, unless it is specifically labeled for use on animals. Listen to the latest APCC podcast to learn more about the possible dangers sunscreen may pose for your pet.

Be mindful of any pool chemicals. With the warmer weather, many people will be opening their pools. While it may not sound tasty to you, that may not stop your pet from licking the chlorine or pool chemicals, or drinking pool water. Many pool chemicals will cause burns to the mouth, throat and stomach, so it’s important to keep a close eye on your pet when they are around the pool. Also, be sure to keep any extra chemicals stored out of paws’ reach.

Keep an eye on your road trip companions. If you will be traveling this Memorial Day weekend, make sure to never leave your pet in your car unattended, and keep a close eye on any personal items stashed in your car that your pet might ingest (e.g., gum or medications). Read APCC’s tips for safely traveling with your pets to learn more.

Don’t forget the food! Of course what would a barbecue be without plenty of food? APCC’s handy list of people food to avoid feeding your pet will help keep animals safe this weekend. You can also make sure it’s a farm animal-friendly meal by checking out our Shop With Your Heart resources, like the “grocery list” of welfare-certified meat, eggs and dairy brands as well as plant-based alternatives.

As we celebrate this holiday, we also want to stop and reflect on the men and women who have sacrificed for our country. This Memorial Day, we honor them. Have a happy, safe and healthy holiday with your loved ones—whether they be on four legs or two!

For more safety tips and helpful resources, download the APCC mobile app and the ASPCA mobile app to stay informed and aware year-round!

If you have any reason to suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately with our 24 hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.