Does your dog sniff around the barbecue grate on a grilling day?
It is normal to get carried away with the festivities, and once you look away, your doggo has licked some ash from the grate.
Has this happened to you?
It is uncommon for dogs to eat ash, but it is not unusual.
Why Are Dogs Attracted To Ash?
There are a few reasons why dogs may want to consume ash.
1. The smell of some ash or charcoal used to grill might be enticing especially after a grilling session.
The charcoal could smell like barbecue meat, and curious as dogs are, they want to taste it.
2. For non-grill ash or charcoal, the smell also could be a draw, as the clay-like or mineral smell can trigger obsessive licking.
3. If ash eating is constant it may point to Pica, the indiscriminate eating of inedible items of no nutritional value.
This is also a symptom of other illnesses and deficiencies, nausea and anaemia.
Why Is Ash A Problem?
At this point, we should clarify that charcoal and ash are different.
Charcoal while less toxic than ash is also a hazard because as a lump it can cause obstruction in the airway or digestive system.
If this happens surgical intervention is needed.
Activated charcoal, however, is a necessary remedy to poisonings but can only be administered by Veterinarians.
Ash has some dangerous substances like potassium, sulphur oxides, petroleum, sodium nitrate, lighter fluids and other toxins.
These are toxic and can cause some harm to your dog.
Cigarette ash is another one to highlight as nicotine is also something to worry about, it can be fatal to your dog.
What To Do If They Eat Ash?
A small amount will not do much harm to your dog, but the act can be indicative of a medical ailment.
It is recommended to have some tests done for the blood, urine, kidney function, liver function and blood panels.
If it is nausea and vomiting starts, it would be best to give your dog some antacid and see how they respond.
You would need to feed the dog some bland food like bread or boiled hamburger meat for a while to keep nausea at bay.
If this settles their nausea and reintroducing normal food brings nausea back, you will need to look at the food you are giving him to find out what is triggering it.
Also talking to a vet would help you make an informed decision.
If an appreciable amount is eaten it would be best to call a veterinarian as soon as possible because ash mostly does not dissolve.
Once ingested, it can clump together and cause a blockage in the digestive tract, which can be fatal to your dog.
Symptoms of intestinal blockage include:
- Abdominal pain/swelling
- Loss of appetite
If these follow any ash ingestion, it is best to speak with the veterinarian immediately.
The veterinarian would conduct a physical exam and X-ray of your dog to confirm blockage and surgery would be needed.
Caught on time your dog can make a full recovery.
Even a dog that passed out due to this was saved via surgery and lived a full life, minus the length of his intestines that was removed.
How to Prevent Ash Eating?
1. The first thing to consider is access to the grill, fireplace or wherever your dog might get ash from.
You would need to block his access and keep an eye out, so he does not find a way to sneak past your barriers.
2. Using commands to stop your dog from participating in a bad habit helps, along with training in this area.
It is for your dog’s own good and a behaviour consultant can help.
3. If your dog is only doing this out of boredom, distraction is one way to keep them and their minds off ash eating.
Play with them, hide treats for a game and find a way for him to participate in the barbecue party that is far enough from the grill.
4. Ensure he is well fed and does not have any deficiencies.
A well-fed dog is less likely to eat barbecue flavored ash.
5. If you smoke, be careful to use an ashtray and not leave any ash on the floor or anywhere else.
Clean up your ashtray immediately after, leaving no room for your dog to get their noses in it.
There are many ways for your dog to get in contact with ash, and curious as they are, they may have an encounter.
You can handle a little at home but remember to call the veterinarian if it is a substantial amount.
But with the preventive strategy, you might not have an incident ever.