Can Dogs Eat BBQ Sauce?

For many dog owners, it can be tricky to know what they can and can’t safely eat.

There are lots of foods they may express interest in, but it may not always be safe to let your dog eat exactly what they want to.

One of these foods is barbecue sauce. 

Originating from the first American settlers of the American colonies in the 17th century, BBQ sauce quickly became a popular condiment for meats throughout the entire country.

Despite its popularity, Americans did not see the first widely manufactured version of the sauce until Heinz started producing it commercially in 1940. 

But what about dogs?

Can they safely ingest this American staple condiment?

In today’s article, we’re going to answer that question, while also examining the history of BBQ sauce as a condiment in more depth.

Keep reading to learn all you need to know about dogs and BBQ sauce in this quick guide. 

What is BBQ Sauce?

Barbecue sauce (often abbreviated to BBQ) is a sauce made of a vinegar, tomato paste, or mayonnaise base mixed with various spices, including onion powder, mustard, black pepper, sugar, and molasses.

When combined, these ingredients create a rich, creamy sauce that is commonly used to flavor meat, typically beef or pork. 

The earliest homemade BBQ sauces were much simpler than the variety we see today, being made of just vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Some of the other ingredients, like sugar, molasses, ketchup, or Worcestershire sauce, weren’t used until the early 1900s.

After World War II, ingredients like these became much more commonplace, allowing for a more flavorful and varied type of barbecue sauce to come into popularity. 

Is Barbecue Sauce Toxic to Dogs?

So, let’s address the main concern of this article: is BBQ sauce bad for dogs to eat?

Will any of the individual ingredients in the sauce harm them?

The short answer is yes, barbecue sauce is typically not good for dogs to ingest.

But what in BBQ sauce makes it bad for them to eat?

One of the main ingredients in modern day BBQ sauces is sugar.

While not inherently toxic to dogs, sugar in large amounts can be harmful to their digestive systems.

With ingesting too much sugar, dogs can quickly become overweight and suffer dental pain and cavities.

In extreme cases, over consumption can even lead to diabetes. 

Vinegar, however, is one ingredient that is not known to be harmful to dogs.

In fact, giving your dog distilled vinegar can help improve their digestive health and immune system.

Containing magnesium, potassium, and iron, it will help support and strengthen their digestive system.

As you can see, vinegar isn’t the problem here. 

Mayonnaise, another popular base for BBQ sauces, is also not inherently toxic to dogs.

A lick of it here and there will not cause any issues, as it’s mainly made of oil and eggs.

However, its fatty content can quickly cause issues for their digestive systems if consumed in large amounts. 

Salt and pepper, also present in most BBQ sauces, is also fine for dogs to ingest.

The same goes for mustard and molasses.

None of these common ingredients will cause much of an issue in your dog’s digestive system. 

The big ingredients that will do the most damage are onion and garlic.

These ingredients are both found in high volumes in most barbecue sauces and at the very least will harm your dog’s digestive system and at their worst they might kill your dog. 

Are There Any Dog Friendly BBQ Sauce Recipes?

So, most barbecue sauces are harmful for dogs to ingest, right?

But does that mean that there might be a way to make a barbecue sauce that isn’t harmful to them?

Let’s take a look at a few ways you can make barbecue sauce that will be safe for them to eat, while still tasting great. 

Really the main ingredients you want to avoid giving to your dog are onion and garlic, both of which are usually present in BBQ sauce.

It’s quick and easy to make a barbecue sauce without these though. 

To make a barbecue sauce that is dog safe, add tomato paste, beef stock, applesauce, cloves, and cinnamon to a saucepan simmering over medium to medium-low heat.

After all the ingredients have been mixed thoroughly in the heat, your barbecue sauce will be assembled.

For it to gain the right consistency, you’ll have to let it sit and cool off 30 minutes to an hour before using it. 

You can try coating simple dog treats in this dog safe barbecue sauce, or you can add it to things you’d normally feed them, like pieces of chicken or beef. 

4 Reasons That BBQ Foods Are Dangerous for Dogs

Beyond barbecue sauce being bad for dogs, many foods that you would typically put BBQ sauce on can also be dangerous for them to ingest.

Some of these foods include pork ribs, chicken wings or thighs, any cut of meat that has too much fat on it, caramelized or burnt food, and spiced sausages and hamburgers. 

  1. Pork ribs, chicken wings and thighs: These cuts of meat can be especially dangerous to dogs because they often contain tiny bones that could easily become a choking hazard. 
  2. Fatty Meats: Cuts of meat with too much fat on them can be hard on a dog’s digestive system, which can give them vomiting, diarrhea, and bloating. 
  3. Caramelized or Burnt Food: Caramelized food, being coated in sugar, is just generally not good for dogs to eat. It can cause dental issues if they eat too much of it. Similarly, burnt food can be dangerous for dogs because it can contain a harmful chemical known as acrylamide. This is a known carcinogen and can lead to cancer when consumed. 
  4. Spiced Sausages or Hamburgers: These are both hard on a dog’s digestive system, due to the spices and high fat content. Again, this may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and bloating in some dogs. 

What is the Safest BBQ Meat?

For feeding dog-safe BBQ sauce to your dog, you’ll probably want to put it on a meat that is safe for your dog to ingest.

You can safely feed your dog any meat that doesn’t have too much fat and that doesn’t contain small bones or seasonings. 

Try feeding them plain chicken breast, plain steak, or plain hamburger. These kinds of meat are typically the easiest on a dog’s digestive system and won’t cause any harmful side effects. 

BBQ Sauce Alternatives

If you’d rather just use a sauce that is an alternative to barbecue, there are many other sauces that are popularly used to season the same kinds of foods that you’d typically use BBQ sauce with.

Some of these sauces include ketchup, mayonnaise, teriyaki, and Worcestershire sauce. 

Ketchup is typically not the best option for dogs either, as it can contain heavy amounts of salt and sugar, which are not good for dogs to consume in high amounts.

Small amounts will not harm your dog, though.

Just be mindful of how much they’re consuming.

You should also avoid feeding Worcestershire sauce and teriyaki sauce to your dog for the same reasons as ketchup.

Both of these sauces contain high amounts of salt, sugar, and other seasonings that could be harmful to your dog. 

Mayonnaise is the only option of these popular sauces that is totally fine for a dog to ingest.

Most mayo’s are made from oil and eggs, with very few other ingredients, none of which are typically harmful to dogs. 

Help! My Dog Ate BBQ Sauce!

If your dog ate barbecue sauce when you weren’t looking, here are a few quick and easy tips you can try to remedy the situation. 

First, try feeding your dog some Pepcid AC to help with their stomach discomfort.

For every 10 pounds they weigh, you can safely administer 2.5 mg. This is available over the counter at drug or grocery stores. 

You should also feed your dog a bland diet to help with the vomiting, which includes things like boiled ground beef or boiled chicken breasts served with rice.

Try giving them two parts rice per one part of meat. Feed them this diet until they return to normal. 

If you notice pale or white gums, extreme lethargy, or an increased breathing rate, you should take your dog to a vet’s clinic immediately for medical assistance. 

Closing Thoughts

Knowing what you can and cannot feed your dog can sometimes be tricky.

There are many foods that, if fed to a dog, will cause them extreme health and digestive issues.

Barbecue sauce is one such food that will do this, due to its high fat content, spices, and use of onion and garlic, which are toxic to dogs. 

Follow the tips we’ve outlined above for alternatives to BBQ sauce that are safe for your dog, while also remembering the tips we outlined in case your dog has ingested BBQ sauce while you weren’t watching.

For all your other dog questions, check out our other articles to get the answers you’re looking for.