Ask almost anyone and they’ll tell you that summer is grilling season. From onions and steaks to peaches and corn, we Americans will put pretty much anything on the grill. And it’s for a few very good reasons: grilling puts the heat from cooking outside, saving air conditioning costs; there’s nothing like the taste of fresh summer ingredients; and a grilled summer meal almost begs to be eaten outdoors, under the open skies with friends and family.
But for our four-legged family members, some summer foods can actually pose a risk. They call it ‘people’ food because it’s really meant for people. Here are 5 summer foods that you should avoid feeding your pet:
Onions, Garlic, Shallots & Chives
Onions and garlic are from the same family and are not healthy for cats or dogs—garlic’s effectiveness as a homemade remedy for fleas is a myth. In fact, when cats or dogs eat raw or cooked onions, the chemicals found inside can cause onion/garlic toxicity, a very serious condition.
If you’re sharing grilled veggies with your pet, try green bell peppers instead. Just make sure they’re cooled down after coming off the grill and that you chop them up into small pieces to prevent choking hazards.
Corn is one of the quintessential summer foods. We love to eat it grilled or steamed right on the cob. But if you’re considering giving the leftover cob to your dog, don’t. Corn cobs are a major choking hazard for some dogs, and other dogs will swallow them whole and have to have the cob removed surgically because it stops the flow of the GI tract. So if you’re going to give your pooch corn at all, cut it off the cob and into kernels instead.
Or, try another quintessentially summer alternative: sliced cucumber. It’s safe for dogs and cats alike to eat.
Grapes and Raisins
Grapes, raisins and currants haven’t always been on the list of foods to avoid, but they’re here for good reason. In pets, an unknown chemical in even just a small amount of grapes, raisins or currants can cause significant damage to the kidneys. If you suspect that your pet has gotten into any of these fruits, it’s best to call your veterinarian immediately.
A great alternative to these fruits are blueberries, which are safe for your pet and actually really healthy too due to their antioxidant properties. A great way to prepare them for your pet is to freeze them so they’ll be a crunchy, cool treat.
While avocado may cause some mild stomach upset in dogs and cats when eaten in large quantities (which can be treated with natural remedies like this), the real worry for pet parents is the pit. It’s large enough to get into a dog’s intestines and cause some serious issues.
As an alternative, try either raw or cooked zucchini. The cooked version will have a soft texture similar to avocado, but pets—especially cats—also like the moist crunch of raw zucchini.
A little might be okay for your dog or cat (still not recommended), but excess can mean serious digestive issues. Ice cream has three components that prove dangerous: sugar, lactose and fat. Most dogs in particular can’t digest lactose and sugar can lead to not only gastro-intestinal upset but also bacterial overgrowth. Fat can even lead to more serious issues like pancreatitis. Not to mention, you’ll just be feeding your pet empty calories.
Instead, try freezing diced carrots and low-sodium chicken broth in an ice cube tray and treating your pet with something cool and healthy!
Bonus: Food With Bones
Just writing the words esophageal and intestinal perforations makes us wince. So imagine what it actually feels like if a bone splinters as your pet eats it and those splinters cause these issues. Food with bones are a very big no-no for cats and dogs. And it’s not just small chicken bones, either; bones from beef, pork, lamb, turkey or any other meat should never be given to your pet.
Feeding Your Pet Good Health
As with all treats, we have to remember why we call them ‘people food.’ The food we eat wasn’t intended for pets to eat as well. So be aware of what’s within reach and limit their treat intake. The best way to have a great time with your pet during the summer months is by keeping them healthy.
Do you have any suggestions for summer pet treats? Share them with us in the comments below!