Battersea Dogs & Cats Home are asking people to keep a watchful eye on their pets at summer barbecues, after one of the dogs in their care needed life-saving surgery when a corn on the cob was found blocking her intestines.

Four-year-old Boxer, Vivienne, came into Battersea when she was found as a stray in North London. She was severely underweight and unable to keep food down. Within the first few weeks in Battersea’s kennels, her condition deteriorated, prompting the charity’s expert veterinary team to undertake further investigations.

Battersea’s Head Vet Shaun Opperman, said, “Poor Vivienne was vomiting a lot, and upon examination we could feel something uncomfortable in her abdomen, which prompted us to do an X-ray.

“During the X-ray, we were suspicious of a foreign body, which turned out to be a very old, very mouldy, corn on the cob. Judging from the state that the corn husk was in, it looked like it had been lodged inside poor Vivienne for a while, which explains why she was so ill and unable to put on weight or keep her food down. Luckily, she’s gone from strength to strength since we removed it and she’s now looking for a new home.”

This isn’t the first time that the vets at Battersea have discovered remnants of barbeque food making dogs sick. In 2013, a stray Bull Mastiff puppy named Patrick was found with a kebab skewer protruding from his abdomen which he’d clearly swallowed whole in the days before he arrived at Battersea. He was rushed to the charity’s clinic for emergency surgery, a story which featured on Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs.

Shaun continued, “At this time of year, with people enjoying the hot weather and having barbecues, it’s so important that owners keep food out of reach of their dogs to make sure that dogs don’t eat anything they shouldn’t. Dogs can also be opportunists and may be tempted to steal food from the barbecue, which can end with them being burnt. Make sure you’re watching them around the grill and put any embers out as quickly as possible.”

Vivienne needed life saving surgery when a corn on the cob was found blocking her intestines

Dangerous summer barbecue foods for dogs

Corn on the cob- besides the obvious choking hazard that these could cause, Vivienne’s story also shows that these can cause an internal blockage, both of which could be fatal for dogs.

Kebab skewers- while some of the ingredients on skewers may be ok for dogs to eat, be careful that they don’t eat the stick, too, as this can cause internal damage.

Cooked bones- while raw bones may be ok for your dog to chew on (always check with your vet first), cooked bones may splinter into shards which your dog could choke on, or do serious damage to your dog’s mouth, throat or intestines should he swallow them.

Onions- while we may find onions to be a nice burger garnish, they are poisonous to dogs if a lot of them are ingested at once.

Guacamole/ avocado- avocado contains a compound called persin, which is poisonous to dogs.

Chocolate- while most of us know that chocolate is poisonous to dogs, some guests may not be so canine savvy. Be sure to keep all chocolate desserts well out of the way of your dog, and let your guests know not to share any with your pet.

Alcohol- dogs are sensitive to alcohol, but may not hesitate in having a tipple, especially if the weather is hot. Make sure not to leave any alcoholic concoctions laying around, and throw any empties away.

If your dog does eat something that it shouldn’t, you should contact your vet as soon as possible for further advice.

If you think you could give Vivienne, or another dog in their care, a home, please call 0800 001 4444 or visit


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