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Health & Wellness

BBQ foods your dog can and can't eat

Your pup can share in the Independence Day festivities with just a little precaution.

It’s Independence Day weekend and you’re set to host the neighborhood barbecue. Your dog, who is already circling the picnic table in search of food samples, is excited for their role as cohost. They’ve even mastered their begging technique, which includes a drooling smile, excessive tail wagging and slight stalking. 

But what is actually safe to share with your favorite pup this holiday? And what foods should you keep away from your furry guests?

What Fourth of July barbecue foods are unsafe for dogs?

As long as your pup is at the barbecue, you should warn your guests that some of the foods you’ve prepared aren’t safe for them to eat. Some of the most common party items, like onions, garlic and tomatoes, are toxic to dogs. That includes foods that contain onion and garlic seasonings too.

According to Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, hot dogs aren't a great option for dogs' snacks. Hot dogs, including beef, turkey and pork-based varieties, are often made with dangerous ingredients like sodium nitrate, monosodium glutamate, artificial sweeteners, garlic and onion.

Your pet isn’t at a complete loss, though. With your vet’s permission there are several holiday-friendly foods your best friend can have in moderation. 

RELATED: Can dogs eat strawberries?

What Fourth of July barbecue foods are safe for dogs?

Always talk to your veterinarian before introducing your dog to a new food, as you never know what allergies they may have. But once your furry friend discovers cooked, unseasoned hamburger meat is up for grabs (because your vet approved it!), be prepared for some next-level tail wagging. Feel free to share this bite with your pup in moderation.  

“In general, ground beef is safe for most dogs to eat. However, dogs with allergies to beef or those with a gastrointestinal illness may not be able to eat it,” Dr. McCullough says. “Hamburgers, sandwiches with beef patties and toppings, are not generally recommended for dogs.” 

Bite-sized pieces of watermelon (without the rind and seeds as these can cause blockages and an upset stomach), are also generally fine to share with your pup. Plus, watermelon is a tasty and refreshing treat when served frozen too.

You can also treat them to a little bit of bread as long as your dog doesn’t have a wheat allergy or intolerance. But before breaking off a piece to share, be sure the bread doesn’t contain any onion or garlic seasonings.

Small pickle slices are another barbecue treat safe for dogs to try, as long as they aren’t sweet pickles (too much sugar can cause diabetes and tooth decay) or made from distilled white vinegar (which can cause a stomach ache or diarrhea). Pickles made from apple cider vinegar are typically safe for pups to eat in small portions.

When cooked and plain, purple, red, white and sweet potatoes are generally fair game for dogs to enjoy. Just know that dishes like potato salad can contain unsafe ingredients and are off limits. If the potatoes you're serving have green skin, those are toxic to dogs too.

Cheese is typically safe for pups who aren’t lactose intolerant, but you should avoid feeding them aged cheeses, as they may interfere with certain medications. Blue cheese also poses a risk of mold toxicity and should be left off your dog’s plate.

Check with your vet before treating your pup this Independence Day

Keep in mind that it’s always best to ask your vet before giving your dog any new foods, as all pets are different.

To get ahead of a choking accident at your barbecue, cut your dog’s food into bite-sized pieces and serve all safe treats in moderation so you don’t overfeed your pet. You should also remember to skip snacks that are high in fat and sodium — too much of these can pose a problem for high blood pressure, heart issues and kidney ailments.

To learn more about what bites are safe and unsafe for your pup to enjoy, continue exploring our “Can dogs eat” series.

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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