Beware of barbie jeopardy


LONGING LOOKS  Don’t give in to those puppy dog eyes.

The dangers of barbecue food for our pets

The vet's view
Conal Finnerty

Whilst it may be somewhat depressing for some of you to see the move from summer to autumn catch up on us so quickly – and the mention of the dreaded ‘lunch-box’ makes more of us break out into cold sweats – September traditionally in this country tends to bring with it some lovely autumnal weather. Indeed this remains a popular time to try to drag the last out of some of the more popular activities, one of which is the barbecue.
It’s lovely to sit out on fine September evenings and light up the barbecue for as long as possible, it’s good to be mindful of some hidden and not so hidden dangers for our pets.

Fatty foods
Foods that are high in fat can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in pets and in some cases, acute episodes of pancreatitis. Some breeds seem to be a little more susceptible, they being Yorkshire terriers and mini schnauzers. Please try to resist the urge to share foods from the barbecue that are fatty or have a high fat content, such as burgers, hotdogs, pork chops and fried chicken, or indeed any food cooked in grease.

Food trimmings with bones can cause choking. Dogs have a powerful chew and can easily splinter bones in their mouths, and these splinters can cause stomach or bowel lacerations and consequently very serious illness. Often the damage is beyond repair if peritonitis develops due to a penetrated or obstructed stomach or bowel.
Have a secure bin at the ready, and always educate smaller children of the dangers of such foods to pets.

Toxic ingredients
Some people will be surprised at the fact that onions and garlic can be toxic to your pet. Raw and cooked onions and garlic are popular elements of barbecues. These foods contain a compound called thiosulphate, and this can cause a condition in pets that results in ruptured red blood cells leading to anaemia. This can be life threatening.

Raw food
Raw food left about that can be robbed by your pet is another common hazard especially, raw fish meat.
These foods can, like raw eggs, contain bacteria that can cause gastrointestinal disease in pets, not to mention the risk posed by fish bones.
Some types of fish, such as salmon and trout, can contain a parasite that can cause infection in our pets.

Alcohol is rapidly absorbed in the gut of pets and ingesting it can lead to dangerously low blood sugar levels, drop in blood pressure and body temperature leading to seizures and respiratory failure. Desserts containing alcohol are often unknown culprits.
While it is enjoyable to have your pets as part of the action when the back yard barbecue is in full swing, always be mindful and educate younger people of the possible dangers this poses for your pets. Enjoy the autumnal weather – and for all of the teachers out there, go easy on the homework for the month of September!

Veterinarian Conal Finnerty MRCVS practises at the Skeldale Vet Clinic in Ballinrobe and Belmullet. Follow the clinic on Facebook, or call 094 9541980 or 087 9185350 to make an appointment.