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What Can Dogs Eat at a Memorial Day BBQ?

By Colleen Williams
published: May 26, 2017 - updated: February 22, 2023 • 3 min. read

Key Takeaways

  • Memorial Day is a fun day of celebration for the entire family, including dogs.
  • Hamburger makes a great treat for dogs if you skip the seasonings.
  • Hot dogs contain too much salt and too many preservatives for dogs.
  • Seafood is usually safe for dogs as long as it doesn’t have bones or seasoning.
  • Dogs should never drink beer, and certain types of ice cream can also be dangerous.

Every year, the last Monday in May means grilling, picnicking, barbecuing – whatever you want to call it, friends and family members get together in honor of those who have died while serving in the country’s armed forces. The usual spread includes hamburgers, hot dogs, salads, chips and dip; geographical favorites can vary from clam bake essentials to baked beans and brisket. Everybody’s hungry, and that includes the little furry pup at the end of the table… eyes peeking over the paper plates, eyeing that platter of burgers.

A GOOD RULE OF PAW: Dogs should not eat human foods if you want to be safe and avoid stomach upset, toxicity or allergies. If there is something your dog loves and it isn’t toxic, remember the other good rule of paw: always in moderation.

If your dog eats something and begins acting strange or gets suddenly very sick, have your vet’s emergency phone number as well as the Pet Poison Helpline in your phone, wallet or on your fridge.

Can dogs eat hamburgers?

Hamburger meat makes a great high-value treat, especially for training, however if it’s too greasy or cooked with garlic, onions, spices and seasonings, forget it. You’re risking your dog getting seriously sick with vomiting or diarrhea.


Can dogs eat hot dogs?

Not surprisingly, hotdogs are usually processed with too much salt, preservatives, and seasonings to be a healthy choice for your dog. If the hotdog’s ingredients are strictly high-quality meats, no problem. Buns are also not a great choice as they are empty calories.

Can dogs eat pasta salad? Potato salad? Potato chips?

While potatoes are common ingredients in dog food, potato and pasta salads are often made with no-no’s like garlic and onions, and potato chips are coated in salt, which isn’t good for dogs. Too much salt alone has been known to cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, high temperature, and seizures. It may even cause death. Same goes for dips and guacamole (made with garlic and onions). Read our list of safe vegetables for dogs to eat and sneak a carrot or two instead of letting your pup choke on an avocado pit or corn cob!

Can dogs eat seafood?

Seafood like salmon is usually safe for dogs if it has been cleared of minuscule bones and isn’t cooked in garlic or onions. If it comes in a shell, make sure to remove it (clams, oysters, lobsters, etc.).

Can dogs drink beer?

Absolutely not; dogs should never drink beer as their bodies cannot process it.

Can dogs eat ice cream?

Despite a million videos on the internet showing puppies and doggos enjoying ice cream, canines can be lactose intolerant and ice cream is chock full of sugar (and never, ever give them chocolate anything!). While naturally occurring sugars aren’t bad or poisonous to your dog, it’s the added sugars in desserts like pies and cakes that can lead to health and dental problems. And sugar-free desserts aren’t safe either – most artificial sweeteners may cause diarrhea, but those with xylitol are on the avoid list – xylitol is poisonous to pups!

Just because it’s not toxic doesn’t mean it can’t cause pancreatitis – a condition resulting from overeating – or a foreign body obstruction (vet-speak for swallowing foreign materials, aka FBO). Last year alone Healthy Paws saw over 1,300 cases filed due to pancreatitis and 5,612 foreign body obstruction cases. One Basset Hound named Chubbers snuck a lone corn cob after the family dinner, resulting in an emergency trip to the vet. Diagnosed with FBO, he was hospitalized, put on an IV with pain medication and antibiotics, and vets performed surgery to remove the cob. While he made a full recovery, the bill was a staggering $5,870 and Healthy Paws reimbursed $5.234.

Want to find out more about what dogs can and cannot eat? Check out our comprehensive guide for more information on “What Human Foods Dogs Can and Can Not Eat.”

colleen williams
By Colleen Williams

Over the past decade, Colleen has written about health, wellness, beauty, and even pets for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, xoVain, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Seattle Met Magazine, as well as many beauty brands. She has a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York.

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