Vets warn pet owners to keep them away from kebab skewers and corn cobs

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is advising anyone having a barbecue this bank holiday weekend to keep kebab skewers and corn cobs well out of reach of inquisitive pets, to avoid serious and potentially fatal injuries.

Every summer, vets see many cases of dogs with injuries obtained as a result of eating wooden and metal kebab skewers, whole corn cobs and cooked bones.

Skewers and splinters from cooked bones can lead to serious internal injuries that often require life-saving surgery.

While corn itself is not poisonous to dogs, a cob cannot be digested and can cause an obstruction which can have devastating effects on the digestive system, such as intestinal rupture.

In a 2018 survey by BVA, one in four companion animal vets said they had treated pets for injuries caused by barbecues that summer.

The most common barbecue injuries vets saw that year were a result of pets eating corn cobs (seen by 56% of companion animal vets who had seen any barbecue-related injury cases), followed closely by damage to the mouth or internal injuries from kebab skewers and cooked bones.

Vets also reported treating dogs for burns received from eating hot food off the grill or touching the barbecue or hot coals.

Several vets saw cases of gastrointestinal upset or pancreatitis caused by pets being fed one greasy sausage too many.

‘Dogs are well known scavengers’

British Veterinary Association senior vice president Daniella Dos Santos said:

“Dogs are well known scavengers and will eat anything they think is a tasty morsel.

I have treated an Italian Spinone that ate a 20-centimetre-long kebab skewer and needed surgery to remove it, and another dog that needed emergency surgery after snarfing down a corn on the cob piece whole.

“Another dog ate so much greasy, fatty barbecue leftovers that it ended up with pancreatitis and needed to be hospitalised for treatment.

“Our advice to anyone having a barbecue this weekend is to keep kebab skewers, corn cobs, greasy meats and cooked bones well out of reach of inquisitive pets, as these can cause serious injuries or illness that often require medical treatment or even surgery.

“If you’re having a barbecue in a public space like a park, please clean up after yourself to make sure other dogs don’t accidentally swallow any leftovers.

“Symptoms of gastrointestinal blockage include vomiting, lack of appetite, lethargy and pain. If you have any concerns that your dog has eaten something it should not have done, contact your local vet immediately.”