It’s almost Independence Day in the USA, and folks around the country are preparing for their annual cookouts, picnics and BBQs to be shared with family and friends. Outdoor feasts are a summer staple, and a dog’s dream. “So much yummy food,” says Fido, “and all within reach in my backyard!”

Luckily, there are a number of Fourth of July foods that you can share with your furry family member. DogTails has compiled a dog-friendly BBQ menu to help you put together that special summer bowl just for your pup. These tips will also help you keep an eye out for dangerous foods that dogs should NOT eat on the Fourth (or any other day). As always, pay attention to ingredients, keep servings of the “good” people food small, and don’t leave the food or trash unattended – these are some of the steps to making this a safe and healthy holiday for your dog!

DogWatch's Dog-Friendly BBQ Menu

Replace a Hot Dog with Grilled Zucchini – No doubt your dog would love a “dog” of his own, but a whole hot dog (not to mention the bun and toppings) is a big meal for his small stomach. A wiser choice for your pup is to either slice small pieces of hot dog for him or forgo the dogs all together and give him some healthy, dog-friendly grilled veggies like zucchini or asparagus. If you are flavoring these veggies with garlic, onions or lots of salt and spices, set aside a few plain ones for the dog. These ingredients are yummy for humans but not advised for dogs.

Replace a Cheeseburger with a Lean Meat Patty  Done right, grilled cheeseburgers are juicy, melt-in-your-mouth goodness – just make sure they don’t fall into your dog’s mouth! The large patties, cheese, bread and toppings combine to be too high in fat and calories for your dog, and eating this rich food can put her at risk of pancreatitis. Instead, you can treat your dog to a small patty of lean beef or ground turkey, cut up and mixed with your grilled or fresh veggies.

Replace Chips and Dip with Sweet Potato – Potato chips and tortilla chips are a staple of cookouts, but they are often way too salty to share with our dogs. Dips are also off limits, as many of filled with ingredients like avocado, garlic, onions and chives that are not safe for dogs. On the other hand, sweet potatoes are great people food for dogs, and one that most of them love to eat! They are also a great source of fiber and vitamins. Try this easy recipe for Sweet Potato Dog Chews and encourage your guests to give these special treats to your pup – and keep the chips and dip for the 2-legged people only.

Replace Corn on the Cob with Popcorn – No summer cookout is complete without fresh corn on the cob, right! While we encourage you to enjoy this seasonal staple, do NOT toss a corn cob (fresh off the grill or picked clean) to your pup. Your dog could swallow part of the cob, blocking his airway or creating a blockage in her intestines. If this happens, your dog may need surgery to remove it. If you don’t wish to spend your July 4th at the animal hospital, keep the cobs away from Fido. Instead, toss her a few kernels of popcorn (the plain kind, not the salty, buttery version) and show off her catching skills!

Replace Apple Pie with Seedless Apple Slices – Americans love to celebrate our nation’s birthday with that most American of desserts – Apple Pie. While a slice of apple pie is just too rich and sugary to share with your dog, its main ingredient makes a great end-of-meal treat! Set aside some apple slices for your dog when preparing the pie, or grab an extra apple when you purchase a pie from the store. Importantly, make sure you take out all of the seeds before handing over the apple slices to your dog, as they can be toxic to her if ingested. You can also throw in some other dog-friendly summer fruits for your pup’s dessert, including strawberries, pineapple, watermelon and more.

Replace a Cold Beer with a Frozen Dog Treat – We all know how too much alcohol effects people. It takes much less alcohol to have the same effect on dogs. It’s never ok for Fido to drink beer or booze of any kind – so keep it far away from him at all times. Instead, why not try this Coconut Blueberry Frozen Dog Treat Recipe from the blog Kol’s Notes? Blueberries are a healthy fruit for dogs, and their bright color makes this treat fit right into your red-white-and-blue theme!

If you have any questions about the safety of foods and ingredients for your dog, contact your veterinarian. A safe and wonderful Independence Day to all – both human and canine!

Photo Credit: “Untitled” by Jeff Kubina is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. (Image is cropped.)