Can Dogs Eat Barbecue Sauce?


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If you’ve found this article, you might have seen your dog sniffing excitedly at the BBQ sauce. Or perhaps you like the taste of it so much that you wonder if you could share some with your furry friend.

So, is BBQ sauce bad for dogs? Unfortunately, yes. Do not feed your dog BBQ sauce since it can pose serious risks and might even lead to a coma or worse.

In the best-case scenario, you could end up with a dog that has diarrhea and vomits all night, not something most pet lovers would like to experience.

As with most advice, there are a few distinct causes for this, and since not all barbecue sauce is made with the same ingredients, this advice might vary slightly. So if you are looking for the exact reasons why you shouldn’t feed your dog this delicious sauce, then read on in the article where we explain what happens, the ingredients, and everything else you need to know.

What Are The Ingredients of BBQ Sauce?

It is impossible to list every ingredient in every barbecue sauce, but below, we have gathered the most common ingredients used to make the paste. If you are making your own, you will already know exactly what you put into the sauce, and if you purchase the item in a store, you will have to look at the labels to see what some of the main ingredients in BBQ sauce are.

  • Ketchup or tomato paste
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Packed brown sugar
  • Honey
  • Lemon juice
  • Mustard
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Artificial flavor enhancers
  • Salt, black pepper, paprika, and other spices.

These are the usual ingredients used as a base for most BBQ sauces. Several potential problem ingredients here, such as sugar and salt, are the most problematic when looking through this list. Onions and garlic can also be detrimental to the dog’s health, even the powdered versions.

Depending on the type of ketchup and mustard, these could also prove to be an issue since they might contain xylitol or excess amounts of sugar. Any one of these ingredients could impact your dog’s health negatively, and all of them combined is not a good idea. In short: don’t let your dog eat sugar or salt.

In theory, a barbecue sauce that does not contain any of these bad ingredients could be safe for dogs, but our advice is to pick another food item. There are hundreds if not thousands of options that are known to be perfectly safe. So why risk serious issues and medical bills by letting your dogs eat BBQ sauce when you could treat your dog to one of those instead?

Why Does My Dog Like Barbecue Sauce So Much?

There can be many reasons, but many dogs are attracted to the delicious smell. Other dogs might notice how happy their owners are when they eat the sauce, and other dogs just like anything they can eat. Perhaps you keep your dog on a boring and bland diet, and the smell excites your dog. Or perhaps the dog once had a small piece of meat that contained a few drops of sauce on it. The possibilities are endless.

Every dog is different, and so is their affliction for food. It is not uncommon to hear about dogs having charged towards a spoon that fell off the kitchen counter, or perhaps they have stolen a bit of your leftover grilled chicken that had a bit of barbecue sauce still on them and thus developed a taste for it.

No matter why the dog likes BBQ sauce, it would be best if you were careful not to reward that behavior and instead focus on training the dog never to eat food unless you let them.

Finding Better Alternatives to Let The Dogs Eat

Many pet owners like to treat their dogs with the food they like the most. But unfortunately, just like with humans, dogs tend to favor the foot that is unhealthy for them. Therefore, our duty as dog owners is to ensure a safe and healthy environment and diet for the dogs, no matter how much our puppies beg us to eat the bad food items.

Therefore, there is potentially a great risk to our beloved pets. Sometimes, you can get lucky with the dog “only” experiencing diarrhea. However, other times, it can lead to more serious complications and require a trip to the vet.

Because of this, we recommend you find other alternatives that your dog can safely eat. For example, ketchup and mustard can be alright in small doses, but it is important to pick a brand that does not use Xylitol as an ingredient.

However, our best advice is not feeding the dog products meant for humans and only feed your furry friend specifically created dog food, treats, and snacks. This way, you do not have to look at ingredients, and you do not risk your dog’s health every time you feed it. This also works great if you have small children since they can often feed your dog the food they eat.

What Happens When Dogs Eat BBQ Sauce?

Depending on the type of the breed, weight, build, and overall health of the dog you own, the reaction and results from a dog eating barbecue sauce can vary from mild inconvenience to requiring urgent medical attention.

Salt, in particular, can be toxic to dogs, causing many different problems. As mentioned, the results are not always the same from dog to dog, but they can include serious issues such as:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive thirst
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Liver failure
  • Tremors
  • Incontinence or more regular urination
  • Diminished appetite
  • Yeast infection
  • General weakness
  • Potential for seizures
  • Dental issues
  • Digestive issues
  • Problems with red blood cells

Onion and garlic can also cause various of the issues mentioned above. If the barbecue sauce is made with spicy ingredients, that can also contribute to the list of health problems and, ultimately, serious conditions. For example, if you feed your dog barbecue sauce that contains Xylitol, which is toxic for dogs, you might risk endangering your dog with potential liver failure problems. Instead, it would be best if you focused on providing food with positive health benefits instead of having your dog eat BBQ sauce.

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate BBQ Sauce?

If you suspect your dog has eaten barbecue sauce, you might notice your dog panting heavily, having an upset stomach, or one of the many other potential issues described above. If a dog eats BBQ sauce, either in raw form or because it was a condiment on some food, like hot dogs or boiled ground beef, our canine friends can become ill very quickly.

Vomiting can, in some cases, help the dog remove the toxic food, and providing plenty of freshwaters to replenish the dog’s reserves can also go a long way. It is important to keep your dog safe, and instead of risking kidney failure or other problems, a medical bill might be the best outcome once the damage has already been done.

In most cases where you suspect or perhaps even saw your dogs eat BBQ sauce, we recommend you bring your dog to a vet if you think the problem is serious or if you notice the symptoms getting worse. At the very least, you should call them up and tell them exactly what your dog ate. Then they can let you know how to act accordingly.

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How Do I Know If My Dog Is Sick?

It is not always easy to know if the food made the dog sick. Sometimes tiredness and laziness can be interpreted as health problems, and vice versa. However, if you know for a fact that the dog has been eating food, it doesn’t normally eat. Then it would be best if you were extra observant in the behavioral patterns of your canine friend.

Often, a sick dog will act differently in small ways, such as not being interested in treats or food, drinking more water than usual, or having to urinate often. These symptoms could potentially mean that your dog is ill. To keep your dog safe, take a look at the symptoms mentioned above, and see if you can recognize any warning signs. We also recommend calling your vet to ask for medical advice. They will let you know if you can keep your dog at home or if you need to rush it to the emergency services.

How Can I Stop My Dog from Getting Sick in The Future?

You can train your dog not to eat things you drop on the floor or stuff that it finds in the wild. It will take time and require patience from you, but eventually, it is possible to achieve. So stick with it!

You could also consider changing the current diet and focus on providing a regular meal of great food so the dog feels satisfied with the daily portions. If your dog is not happy with the current dog food you provide, it might go searching around the house for other, more attractive foods.

You can also ask a dog trainer or a veterinarian for advice on how best to curb your dog’s enthusiasm for these unhealthy types of food. Most of us love dogs, and therefore we should do our best to protect our canine friends at all costs.

Common Ingredients You Should Avoid Giving Your Dog

Many dog owners have heard that chocolate is dangerous for dogs and that it can have a negative impact on the dog’s immune system. However, when it comes to dinner time, people often tend to think that if people can eat the meal, so can the dog. Sadly that is not the case at all.

  • Onion powder
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Black pepper
  • Xylitol
  • Spicy food
  • Garlic
  • Raw onions

Since most store-bought barbecue sauces contain one or more of these common ingredients, you should never voluntarily offer your dog BBQ sauce, and if you by accident do so, call the veterinarian as soon as possible to get urgent advice and possible medical care.


So there you have it. If you have looked at the ingredient list for BBQ sauce, you will have noticed many food items have the potential to hurt or injure your dog seriously, from spices and onions to salt and sugar. Therefore, barbecue sauces contain a large percentage of unsuitable products for dogs.

The good news is that there are many other products that your dog is sure to love, and that won’t cause issues. So perhaps it is time for a trip to the grocery store or shopping mall so that you can pick up some dog-specific treats and snacks.