A DORSET vet is warning dog owners to keep their pets safe as barbecues get fired up for summer.

Food and utensils can pose a danger to animals – including kebab skewers, which some dogs have been known to swallow whole.

Every year Dave Cumber Vets sees many pets, dogs particularly, who have scavenged food from family barbecues. While much of this is harmless, there are potentially fatal hazards, vets have warned.

Dave Cumber said one poor pooch suffered a nasty injury after swallowing a kebab skewer.

“One dog, a Labrador, had eaten a skewer covered in chicken.

“Once swallowed the skewer poked out through her stomach and up into her chest – our vets managed to remove the skewer from between the lung and heart.

“Following the surgery, she required several days of intensive care and medications due to severe internal infections.

“I am happy to say she made a full recovery.

“Fortunately, she was insured and this took a lot of pressure off both the owner and me at the time as we knew we could do the best for her without worrying about any financial limitations to treatment.”

This sort of problem does not just happen to larger dogs, Dave Cumber said. Even smaller dogs like cocker spaniels will manage to swallow a skewer if it is covered in meat. Cocktail sticks are also a risk for the same reason.

Another secret danger can be discarded corn on the cob, which gets stuck in dogs’ digestive systems after being swallowed whole. Bones are also a risk, according to vets. They can break into sharp shards and cause damage or irritation and pain while being digested.

“If swallowed whole they can get stuck and cause an obstruction and need removing surgically. Bones can also become stuck in the back of the throat and cause choking.

Mr Cumber said: “ I have seen this as well – luckily the owner managed to pull the chicken leg out as the dog couldn’t breathe but the owner got bitten in the process.”

Onions (cooked or raw) are toxic to dogs and cats and will cause anaemia.

Pets can also burn themselves stealing hot food from the barbecue.