Keep an eye on your pets if you’re having a BBQ this summer. This is the advice that the PDSA, our chosen charity of the year, are giving after a Bull Mastiff puppy from Newcastle nearly died after eating a BBQ skewer.

Owner Julie Chamberlain first became concerned when her seven-month-old Bull Mastiff cross, Kuma, went off his food and started being sick. She rushed him to Gateshead PDSA Pet Hospital, where an ultrasound scan showed unusual fluid in his abdomen. With x-rays not clearing up the mystery of Kuma’s distress the next step was for vets to carry out exploratory surgery.

PDSA Vet Nurse, Rebecca Johnston, said: “Everyone was stunned when we found out what was causing the problem:

“Kuma had a large abscess in his abdomen. We then found the culprit - a 10cm wooden kebab skewer. It had clearly been there for a while, as it had punctured through his intestine to move into his abdominal cavity. This had caused a major infection - Kuma is very lucky to be alive!”

Kuma received round-the-clock intensive care at Gateshead Pet Hospital for a couple of days, but thankfully he was soon back on four paws – and free from tummy ache. Julie and her family were desperately worried, as they realised how serious his condition was:

“We thought we would lose him. The kids were devastated and I was heartbroken. When the vet said it was a kebab skewer I was totally shocked, as I’m incredibly careful with Kuma due to his tendency to eat everything in sight. I have no idea where he got it from. I’m just so grateful to PDSA for everything they’ve done, the care and attention Kuma received was second to none.”

Kuma has a history of gobbling things he shouldn’t – he tried to eat his own harness once and has also chewed and eaten half a remote control.

Julie added: “Kuma is adorable but it’s like having a naughty toddler – I have to keep an eye on him every hour of every day. He sleeps in my room with the door closed so he doesn’t get into mischief at night and wears a muzzle outside the house, simply to prevent him eating anything he comes across. I’ve now started working with a dog trainer to help with Kuma’s behaviour, and to teach him what he can and can’t eat!”

With barbecue season approaching, PDSA vets have put together a handy guide to keep pets safe and sound this summer.

Barbecue safety tips for pets:

  • • Skip the scraps - eating barbecue scraps can upset your pet’s stomach – undercooked, unfamiliar or fatty food can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • • Bin it – make sure any leftover food and rubbish is properly thrown away in a lidded dustbin. PDSA vets see many pets that have eaten corn-on-the-cob-cores, which can cause a serious blockage, or kebab skewers which can perforate internal organs. These have to be surgically removed.
  • • Keep fuel out of reach - lighter fluid contains hydrocarbons (derived from crude oil), which can prove fatal if ingested. So keep it well out of reach.
  • • Keep away from flames – playing around a barbecue can lead to severe burns, so pets should be kept well away from flames and burning embers.
  • • Watch what you drink – make sure that glasses and drinks are not within reach of thirsty pets. Alcohol is particularly hazardous for pets and glass bottles or cups can be easily knocked over and smash – so plastic cups are a much better option.
  • • Slap on the sun cream – pets can suffer from sunburn and heatstroke just like humans, so if you’re enjoying the sun ensure your four-legged friends have access to shade and plenty of fresh water. Special pet sun creams can be used on pets with white fur or exposed skin, take extra care with white ears and noses.