As the weather heats up there is nothing that we like more than to arrange a BBQ with our family and friends.
Every year Dave Cumber Vets see many pets, dogs particularly, who have scavenged food from family BBQs. Often this is harmless, but there are potentially fatal hazards which may not be obvious to us. Unfortunately some pets have had emergency surgery to retrieve an assortment of stolen BBQ items.
Although it may be difficult to imagine, the vets at Dave Cumber Vets have seen a number of dogs over the years who have managed to swallow entire kebab skewers without even chewing them (approximately 15cm-long pieces of very sharp wood). Dave Cumber of Dave Cumber Vets said “One dog, a Labrador, had eaten a skewer covered in chicken. Once swallowed the skewer poked out through her stomach and up into her chest – our vets managed to remove the skewer from between the lung and heart! Following the surgery, she required several days of intensive care and medications due to severe internal infections. I am happy to say she made a full recovery. Fortunately, she was insured and this took a lot of pressure off both the owner and me at the time as we knew we could do the best for her without worrying about any financial limitations to treatment.”
This sort of problem does not just happen to larger dogs. Even small dogs like a cocker spaniel will manage to swallow a skewer if it is covered in meat. Cocktail sticks are also a risk for the same reason – if covered in cooked meat the dog or cat may not realise what they are swallowing. Wood will not show up well on x-rays so it can be difficult to identify without surgery.
Another secret danger can be discarded corn on the cobs. These are a classic object which gets stuck in dogs’ digestive systems around BBQ season. Dogs don’t often chew them as they are too hard but instead will swallow them whole. Their stomach acid can’t dissolve the cob, which are the perfect size to get stuck in the intestines. So if they are eaten, they inevitably need to be removed surgically.
Bones are also a risk. They can break into sharp shards and cause damage or irritation and pain while being digested. If swallowed whole they can get stuck and cause an obstruction and need removing surgically. Bones can also become stuck in the back of the throat and cause choking. Dave Cumber went on to say “ I have seen this as well, luckily the owner managed to pull the chicken leg out as the dog couldn’t breathe but the owner got bitten in the process – best to avoid the risk and just keep them out of reach”.
Onions (cooked or raw) are toxic to dogs and cats and will cause anaemia. There is a chemical in onions (and other plants in the same family such as garlic) which damages red blood cells and can cause them to burst, so not enough oxygen can be carried around the body to vital organs. If animals eat enough onion, this can cause severe anaemia requiring a blood transfusion.
There are many BBQ dangers for all animals as they will try to steal food directly off a BBQ and could also burn themselves. Remember to dispose of hot charcoals safely and keep out of reach of animals.