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Certain foods have become associated with summer: grilled meats like chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs; chips and dips; watermelon and other fruits; ice cream and popsicles. We generally recommend that dogs not receive table scraps so they don’t develop bad eating habits, to prevent gastroenteritis due to a change in a dog’s regular diet, and to prevent obesity. However, since our pets are part of our family and probably will be present during our picnics and summer meals, the American Kennel Club’s chief veterinary officer, Dr. Jerry Klein, breaks down the safety of some popular summer foods:

Grilled meats

Grilled bones of any kind should not be given to dogs, as cooked bones splinter and can cause obstruction along the gastrointestinal tract.

Don’t give fatty foods or food containing spices, onion or garlic (such as hot dogs or hamburgers that contain garlic powder, etc.). Onions and garlic are toxic to dogs.

Don’t give pork to dogs due to the fat content, which could cause GI disturbances or lead to pancreatitis.

The white meat of a cooked chicken breast can be offered if all the bones are removed and if the skin has no spice present.

Depending on the dog, grilled beef items, such as a bite of steak, can be offered if the size is not too large (especially for smaller dogs) and if fat is trimmed.

Fruits and vegetables

Grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs and should not be offered.

Don’t give dogs corn cobs. If parts of corn cobs are ingested, they can cause a GI obstruction, often requiring expensive surgical removal.

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Peeled pieces of bananas, oranges, apples or watermelon can be offered, but only if all seeds and/or cores are removed.

Watermelon seeds can cause gastrointestinal problems, and the seeds and rind of watermelon can cause gastrointestinal obstruction. The seeds of an apple also contain cyanide, a toxin. The same applies to the seeds of peaches, plums and avocados, which can be not only toxic but can also cause obstructions.

Ice cream and popsicles

Ice cream can be offered, but only in small amounts, as some dogs are sensitive to dairy products, which could cause gastrointestinal problems. If you do offer your dog ice cream, make sure it’s vanilla, as chocolate is toxic to dogs in high amounts.

Popsicles are fine to give to a dog if they are made from fresh fruit, but read the label to make sure they do not contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is toxic to dogs. And be aware that dogs have swallowed entire popsicle sticks, so prevent them from doing so.

Most importantly, all food should be put away and trash secured to prevent your dog from taking food when you aren’t looking.

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