How To Have a Dog Friendly BBQ

How To Have a Dog Friendly BBQ

5 May 2023

Written by Dr. Riccardo Minelli, CertAVP(VDI) CertAVP(SAM) PgDipVPS CertAVP(VC) MRCVS Veterinary Surgeon and by Dr Jill McMaster BVM&S MBA MRCVS, Veterinary Surgeon and in-house expert at BorrowMyDoggy

Summer is finally upon us and that means all those pawsome summer activities are making a comeback! Trips to the beach, picnics in the park and going swimming are just some of the fun things we can get up to. A strong summer favourite is a BBQ, and whether at a party or just at home, they are a great way to spend a warm day.


As fun as BBQs are, we want to make sure our canine companions, as well as enjoying themselves, have a safe time too, so we’ve pulled together some top tips on how to have a dog friendly BBQ.

An adorable young, ginger and fluffy dog, wearing a watermelon print harness, is licking their lips hoping for a treat.
Doggy member Poppy

Can dogs eat barbecue? BBQ food hazards

Lots of good sniffs at a BBQ can result in some curious pooches wanting to share.  But should you?  Here are some things your pup should avoid:

  • Cooked Bones - chicken, steak and any other meat or fish containing bones should be avoided as these bones can splinter and damage your dog’s mouth and digestive tract.
  • Onions, Chives and Garlic - onions, chives and garlic can be found on their own or in other foods at BBQs, and all can be harmful.  Be sure to check ingredients of meat-free products, burgers, dips, relishes etc, as well as keeping dogs away from salads and burger toppings.
  • Avocado - A common sight at a BBQ these days can be some avocado slices or guacamole.  Too much avocado flesh can upset your dog’s stomach, and the avocado pit can cause choking or a gut obstruction!
  • Fatty Foods - Although tasty, foods like burgers, sausages and barbecue sauces can be a bit high in fat for some of our furry friends, which can result in dodgy stomachs, or more seriously, pancreatitis, a condition which can make dogs very ill.
  • Kebabs -  Although a bit of grilled un-marinated chicken from a kebab is unlikely to cause the average dog any harm, the kebab stick can cause serious damage.  Dogs can wolf down wooden or metal sticks in seconds, often drawn to them due to the leftover tasty food left on them.  Keep them out of reach at all times.

As vet Riccardo Minelli shared with BorrowMyDoggy:

We frequently see swallowed kebab sticks. It is normally stuck in the mouth, the oesophagus or the stomach. But if they do get to the intestine, the animal tends to be unwell quickly. With more people at home at the moment and perhaps having barbecues, there is definitely an increased risk. We’d ask people to be especially vigilant if they have dogs around and to contact their vet right away if they see their pet get hold of one of these things. The sooner they get the animal to us the better as we can usually retrieve it without surgery.

Dog Friendly Menu

Bringing your dog’s own food, Kong toy or a treat ball to distract them can sometimes make it less likely they will try what’s on offer for the human guests.  But sometimes our pups just don’t want to be left out, so why not let them enjoy their own BBQ treats?  As long as your give them in moderation, most dogs can enjoy:

  • Fruits - Some pups love fruit, which can be kept nice and chilled before serving to help them keep cool in the warmer weather.  A few strawberries and blueberries are safe options that can be enjoyed by your dog.
  • Vegetables - Having some nice veg and dips?  Raw carrot sticks are a lovely, crunchy treat for pups, just avoid the onion and garlic dip!  Cooked sweet potato and courgette can be a great doggy dish too.
  • Grilled meat or fish - As long as their tummy isn’t sensitive to them, a grilled piece of chicken or salmon, properly cooked and served without bones, should be fine for your pooch.  Just be sure not to add any flavourings or oils, and remove any kebab sticks!
A handsome, black and tan dog is taking a break in the garden, next to their water bowl. He's lying down but has his head raised looking directly at the camera to pose for a photo.
Doggy member Jubei

How to keep them safe

There are a few things to consider and think about if you’re hosting or thinking of having a BBQ with a dog.

Watch the Grill

Remember to keep curious pups away from the BBQ, particularly when the grill or coals are hot or flaming. You can always keep your dog on a lead or ask a family member or friend to keep an eye over them while the cooking takes place. If your BBQ has a lid, keep it down when your dog is around and be sure to keep any charcoal, lighter fluid, matches or fire starters out of your pup’s reach too.

Keeping Cool

On a hot day, remember to keep a close eye on your dog to make sure they’re drinking enough water and staying in the shade where possible. We have more information on how to keep your dog safe in the heat.

Beware of Scavengers

Keep rubbish and left over bones out of reach, a secure rubbish bin or container can help. Especially for those doggies that love to scavenge! If your dog is going to be around children, keep a close eye on both of them, especially if your pup is a known food thief and the little one likes to share! Check our more tips on how to train your dog not to snatch food.

Dietary Issues

If your dog has any food allergies, let people at the barbecue know.  They might think they’re being kind to your pup by slipping them a burger, and your dog is sure to thoroughly enjoy the tasty treat at the time, but you and your pup won’t feel it was so kind when you’re up all night with an upset tummy or their skin condition flares up.

It’s great to have our dogs involved in summer parties, and there’s no reason they should be left out.  And by being safe we’re sure you and your dog (borrowed or owned) will have a great summer together!

This article is for information only, and should never replace any advice, diagnosis or treatment from your veterinary surgeon. Always contact your local vet or out of hours vet without delay if you have any concerns about your dog.

Food guides


Banana and peanut butter yoghurt treats

Dog-friendly fruit smoothie

Mango and watermelon ice pups

Useful summer guides

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