On the Lookout at the Cookout

I have thus far had the pleasure of attending 2 Memorial Day cookouts at a couple different friends’ houses. Having taught a pet first aid class for years now, I’m on the lookout at the cookout! The first was a wonderful lobster bake. The home was filled with 2 Golden Retrievers, one 2yrs old, the other 10. Their “job” in the house is to clean up after the 15 month old human son. That particular evening even the toddler was enjoying muscles. However, I couldn’t help but notice what could be potential dangers of a dropped shell, or worse, a counter surfer. Lobster and muscle shells can act like razors when ingested and a dog will not discern between shell and meat; to them, it smells the same. (I’ve watched my sister’s Lab chow down on a paper bag full of crab shells. Thankfully, there were no obstructions but he suffered a terrible bout of diarrhea for several days. As it turns out, Old Bay seasoning isn’t so great for dogs!) Luckily this particular house was child proofed and pup proofed but I always have my eyes out on the potential hazards.

The other cookout was home to a little Chihuahua and a Brussels Griffon mix. They’re both 11 yrs old and are complete scavengers. While there was no seafood, there were children from the age of 4 months to 14 yrs running around dropping burgers and crackers, etc. And with a good gust of wind, a plate of tortilla chips flew off the table. I even saw a little girl spit out some bubble gum on the ground, which these days more often than not contains a very toxic-to-dogs chemical called Xylitol. While Xylitol mimics sugar to our pallet without messing with our blood-sugar levels, it has the opposite effect on pups and wreaks havoc on their livers.

The pups, Lexie and Chloe, knew exactly what to do, who to follow, and how fast to move on a dropped morsel. Their parents were diligent about watching them, but given their size, people would pick them up and succumb to the adorable “beg” face they both have spent years perfecting. I watched several shreds of steak tips get served to Miss Chloe, and she didn’t tell a soul that this was her 8th or 9th serving.

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A piece of steak here or there might not seem like an issue but who knows what else we drop. Not to mention the fat content of the steak, toxins like xylitol, spilled alcohol, or worse, flourless dark chocolate cake. It could all end in disaster.

So while you’re sipping some summer shandy this gorgeous Memorial Day weekend, keep your eyes out and be a pet’s hero. Help them avoid things like pancreatitis, stomach upset, and exposure to harmful items. If you own a pet and are having a cookout, arm your friends with pet appropriate treats, or put a sign on your pup that tells someone to give them a pet approved treat rather than human food. I’ve been to a party where all guests who marked that they were attending were tagged in a post about what to feed the resident dog. You think ahead about what to provide for your friends, don’t forget about Fido or Fluffy.

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