Can Dogs Eat Barbecue Sauce?

It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday, and we were having a small informal backyard barbecue for friends. As I rubbed on the seasonings for my ribs, I noticed my dog was begging for some of the sauce.

He was a Bichon Frise, a breed notorious for its snobbery when it comes to putting anything in their mouths. So, seeing him beg for sauce was quite funny for me!

But wait, can dogs eat barbecue sauce?

Before we know it, these colder months are over and it will be grilling season once again, which means it’s time to think about how to make our dogs the most welcome guests at the cookout.

In general, dogs like the same foods people do, but there are a few things you should avoid when feeding them. And just in case you’re still wondering whether your dog can eat barbecue sauce, the answer’s waiting for you in the next sections!

Why Do Dogs Enjoy the Flavor of BBQ Sauce?

I’m sure you’ve seen your dog lick their lips after a meal, or maybe even try to sneak in a bit of tasting of your barbecue sauce. It’s not just because they love you, and it’s not just because they want more food.

The answer is actually pretty simple: dogs have an incredible sense of smell that allows them to detect foods with great flavor, and barbecue sauce has a lot of amazing flavor profiles in it.

Dogs are a lot like people—they love to eat, and they especially love to eat food that tastes good. They also enjoy the company of other dogs while they’re eating, which is why we often see them sharing their food with one another.

So, it’s not surprising that your dog might enjoy a little BBQ sauce on his next meal.

But what exactly is it about this particular flavor that dogs find so appealing?

The answer lies in the ingredients. The most common ingredients in barbecue sauce include:

  • Tomato paste, vinegar, brown sugar and molasses to give it that rich sweetness, ketchup for additional sweetness.
  • Worcestershire sauce for a tangy kick.
  • Mustard powder or prepared mustard for some heat.
  • Onion powder or fresh onions for added depth.
  • Garlic powder or fresh garlic cloves for extra savory flavor.
  • Black pepper to add some spice.
  • Salt to round out all those flavors and sometimes even a few drops of liquid smoke for extra smoky flavor.

Possible Dangers of BBQ Sauce for Dogs

Is barbecue sauce bad for dogs? Yes, BBQ sauce can be bad for dogs, but it depends on the kind of sauce you’re talking about.

dalmatian eating food in a stainless bowl

If your dog eats a little bit of it, it’s probably not going to hurt him. But if he eats a lot of barbecue sauce, or if he eats one that contains sugar or high levels of salt, then he could get sick.

I’ll first cover the possible dangers of BBQ sauce for dogs, as well as why it may not be safe for your pup. Then I’ll go over some tips for how to feed barbecue sauce safely to your dog.


Barbecue sauce is a condiment that dogs can eat in moderation. It contains many ingredients that are safe for dogs to eat, but the sauce also contains salt, which is something that should be monitored closely when feeding your dog any type of food with salt in it.

Salt can cause thirst and dehydration by drawing water from the body through sweating and urination. Salt also causes sodium retention in the kidneys, which adds more fluid volume to your dog’s body.


Barbecue sauce contains high levels of salt and sugar which can upset your pup’s stomach if ingested in large amounts. The acidity of the sauce can also cause diarrhea or vomiting if consumed in large amounts.

If your dog has eaten only a small amount, they may just throw up once or twice before their system gets used to the new substance in their digestive system. If they have eaten more than that, they may need emergency treatment at an animal hospital.

It’s also important to remember that the spice rub on your ribs or brisket could be dangerous for your pup.

The spices used in rubs such as paprika and cayenne pepper can cause stomach irritation or even lead to vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. So make sure you keep any spice rubs out of reach of your dog!

Toxic Ingredients

Barbecue sauce contains onion powder and garlic powder, which are toxic to dogs in large quantities. They both contain a substance called thiosulphate (or sulfhydryl group), which causes hemolytic anemia when ingested by dogs in large enough amounts over time—they destroy red blood cells from within the body.

Some BBQ sauces contain a preservative called propylene glycol which has been linked to cancer in cats and dogs as well as other health issues like liver failure and kidney disease.

Also, ingesting too much salt or sugar can lead to potentially fatal health issues like heart disease or diabetes if your dog eats too much barbecue sauce.

So, while it’s safe for most dogs to eat barbecue sauce on occasion, it’s important to consider how much they’re consuming, and whether or not they have any allergies before you give them any kind of food item like this one.

Are There Any Health Benefits For Dogs From BBQ Sauce?

There are several health benefits of BBQ sauce for dogs.

person brushing barbecue sauce on meat in the grill
  • Barbecue sauce is generally safe and healthy for dogs to eat. It has nutritional value, including carbohydrates and protein, which can help boost your dog’s energy levels.
  • For some brands, the sugar content in barbecue sauce is not very high, so it won’t cause your dog to gain weight if you feed them too much of it. However, it’s still best not to feed your dog too much because they don’t need as much sugar as humans do, and also because it could cause tooth decay.
  • Barbecue sauce contains antioxidants like vitamin E and beta-carotene that help slow aging and reduce free radical damage.

Are Canines Allergic to BBQ Sauce?

Can dogs eat BBQ sauce, and will this trigger any allergies?

Well, the short answer to the first question is “yes”, but before you start feeding your pet a tub full of the stuff, there are a few things you need to know.

First of all, barbecue sauce is a condiment that contains sugar and salt, among other things. So, if your dog has any sort of blood sugar disorder or high blood pressure, it’s best to avoid this food.

The second thing you should know is that barbecue sauce can trigger an allergic reaction in some dogs—especially if they’re allergic to tomatoes or onions, which are common ingredients in barbecue sauce.

If your dog shows signs of an allergic reaction after eating barbecue sauce (such as hives or vomiting), contact your veterinarian immediately.

What To Do if My Dog Consumes BBQ Sauce?

First, don’t panic! Dogs can eat barbecue sauce and still be perfectly healthy. But there are some things you should know about the risks associated with consuming this type of food.

If your dog ate a lot of barbecue sauce, it’s important to monitor him for symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea. If either occurs, contact your veterinarian immediately. The most common symptoms associated with consuming too much barbecue sauce include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive thirst

Are There Any BBQ Sauce Recipes That Are Safe for Dogs?

The good news is that there aren’t many ingredients in barbecue sauce that are harmful to dogs. The bad news is that some ingredients can be harmful if they’re eaten in large quantities over a long period of time.

barbecue sauce

So what’s safe for your dog to eat? Here are a few tips:

  • Use the smallest amount possible when cooking—you don’t want to use more than your human guests would consume.
  • Don’t give your dog barbecue sauce straight from the bottle (or jar). This can lead to digestive issues and might make your dog sick. Instead, mix it with other foods like peanut butter or their kibbles, so it’s easier for him to digest.
  • Avoid giving your dog sauces with added salt or sugar if possible because these ingredients may cause dehydration if consumed in large amounts.
  • Can dogs have barbecue sauce anytime? If you’re worried about the amount of sugar they’re getting from your BBQ sauce, try diluting it with water or even mixing it with other foods your dog enjoys.

The Barbecue Pit: Answers to Your Frequently Asked Questions

Which BBQ Meat Is the Safest?

One of the most common meats that people cook up on the grill is chicken. This is a great choice if you’re looking for something that is safe for your dog and won’t make them sick or cause an allergic reaction.

It’s also easy to find, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get hold of a few pieces from your local grocery store or butcher shop.

Another common choice is beef steak, but this one can have side effects in some dogs like diarrhea or vomiting, so it may not be ideal for all dogs.

If you know for sure that your pup has no allergies to beef or other types of meat then it could be worth trying out with them as well though!

Pork sausage can also be a good option if you want something spicy and flavorful without being too risky with regards to potential health issues down the road.

Just remember that there are different types of sausages out there though—some contain more fat than others, so make sure you check labels carefully before buying anything.

For a thorough rundown, here is my post on the best meat for dogs, and to sate your curiosity, here is another about kangaroo meat for dogs.

What Sauces Can a Dog Eat?

If your dog is craving some new flavor in his life, we’ve got some suggestions for different sauces he can try:

  • Use ketchup instead of barbecue sauce. Ketchup is sweet and tangy, and it’s also easier to clean up if your dog spills it on the carpet.
  • Try using mustard instead of barbecue sauce. Mustard has a similar texture and consistency to barbecue sauce, but with less sugar and more bite.
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, try mixing ketchup with mustard for an extra-special treat. Your dog will love the taste of this combo.

How Long Can BBQ Sauce Sit Out?

The best way to store BBQ sauce is in the refrigerator. This will help prevent bacteria from growing in the sauce and keep it safe for consumption, even after opening.

different kinds of  bbq sauce in a container

If you want to store your BBQ sauce in the pantry, make sure you put it in an airtight container and store it on an upper shelf where there’s less moisture.

This will also prevent bacteria from growing as well as keep it safe for consumption. The recommended storage time for unopened bottles of barbecue sauce is six months, while opened bottles should be used within three weeks or refrigerated immediately.

Can Dogs Eat Barbecue Chips?

Yes, they can, but I would not recommend this. The main ingredient in most barbecue chips is salt—a lot of salt. This means that they’re high in sodium and chloride, which can lead to dehydration over time if your pup eats too many of them at once.

In addition to this high sodium content, there are also preservatives and artificial flavors added during processing that may contain harmful chemicals like BHA or BHT, which is short for butylated hydroxyanisole, and both of these chemicals have been linked to liver damage.

Here are two more posts that you might find interesting, where I answered questions on can dogs have turkey burgers, and can dogs eat luncheon meat, in case you’re running out of menu ideas and have had these products cross your mind.


BBQ sauce is a favorite of humans, but it might not be the best thing for your canine companion to chow down on.

The acidity in most varieties of sauce is similar to that of stomach acid, and when consumed in the excessive amounts often seen with dogs who love the stuff, it can cause dehydration and upset stomachs.

While dogs can eat barbecue sauce under certain circumstances, you’ll want to pay careful attention to your dog’s body language in order to make sure that it’s not showing signs of distress or allergic reactions.

For more topics like this, please keep checking in, I have new posts every week. I am with you in wanting happier and healthier lives for our pups. Much love from us here at ECC!

Photo of author

Lovelia Horn

I’m a certified crazy dog mom, a physical therapist (for hoomans), writer, animal rescuer, and foster home provider. Together with my hubby Ryan, I’ve fostered and helped look for forever homes for over a hundred shelter dogs in the Southern Illinois area. I mostly work with Puppy Rescue 911, Inc., a certified animal rescue organization based out of Chester, IL (home of Popeye!)

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