6 Picnic Foods That Could Poison Your Pup

The wrong foods could turn a happy holiday cookout into a horrible pet disaster situation.

May 12, 2017
doc picnic
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Picnics are fun! So it's no surprise that as we head into Memorial Day weekend, many people are planning to take attend or host holiday cookouts and BBQs with their dogs by their sides. Sure, social dogs will likely enjoy a day out on the town, but typical picnic fare could turn a fun outing into a life-threatening situation.

More: 10 Ways to Get Fit With Your Dog

We asked Tina Wismer, DVM, medical director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, to ID the top picnic foods your dog needs to avoid.

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Dogs can get drunk just like people. Not only can they get tipsy, but they can also go into a coma or even die from ingesting alcohol (one of the 21 worst foods to give your dog). "With dogs, many will drink beer readily," Dr. Wismer says. "Dogs and cats will also drink mixed drinks that tend to have a cream or milk base, like white Russians."

Since most alcohol exposures involving pets are accidental—perhaps someone puts their glass down and the dog gets up on table and gets into it—remind your picnic guests to keep alcohol away from dogs.

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Meat fare

Burgers and franks are synonymous with American picnics (there's a reason why they're some of the most popular grilling recipes), and people often like to celebrate spring and summer holidays by sharing their people food with party-going dogs. "One hotdog or one hamburger patty probably isn't going to be too much of a problem," Dr. Wismer admits. But if everyone at the party is tossing a dog some, the pooch could very well come down with vomiting and diarrhea, Dr. Wismer notes.

Instead, bring a bit of your dog's regular kibble to the party and feed him dog food while the humans enjoy grilled people food (like these delicious kabob recipes). 

More: The Cardinal Rules of Owning a Dog

chicken wings
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Though it may be tempting to throw bones under the table after you polish off grilled wings or ribs, Dr. Wismer says it's never a good idea to feed dogs any type of bones from people foods. The bones easily splinter and can cause internal bleeding and possibly death. Plus, overindulging on bones can lead to a serious case of canine constipation. Big bones can also break a dog's teeth.

If you're hosting a party with dogs in attendance, freeze some chicken or beef broth (follow this homemade bone broth recipe) in ice cube trays or purchase doggy ice cream to have safer treats on hand.

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People often dump the grease and grilling grime into the driveway after a BBQ, but canines will readily scarf this up, ingesting dangerous amounts of fat and possibly rocks from the driveway, to boot. If the grease is hot, it could cause oral burns.

Chemical grill cleaners are a threat, too. Instead, use these nontoxic grill-cleaning tips

More: The Best Way to Clean Your Grill

picnic salads
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Mayo-based salads

Just like people, dogs can get food poisoning from mayo-based salads left out in the sun too long. Generally caused by Salmonella or E. coli, food poisoning in a dog exhibits as diarrhea or vomiting with blood.

Grapes picnic
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Grapes or raisins

Grapes and raisins are a classic no-no when it comes to dogs. Just a few can cause major kidney problems or even death. If you want to provide a pup with a fruit-based summer treat, try watermelon instead. Just remove the rind—dogs have trouble digesting it. 

More: The 5 Worst Ingredients in Pet Food

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Bonus tips

To keep your holiday picnic full of cheer, make sure your dog is microchipped and wearing a collar with the proper rabies and contact information tags. If party plans include setting off fireworks or listening to loud bands, you may be better off leaving your pooch at home—loud sounds could frighten dogs in a way that makes them run away.

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