Please understand the difference this Christmas!
Veterinarians around the world see a surge in cases of pancreatitis each year during the Christmas holiday season. That’s because our homes are filled with rich, fatty foods that are as tempting to dogs as they are to us. A single high-fat meal is enough to trigger the problem – and so the well-meaning family members who empty their plate in your dog’s bowl rather than the garbage are often at fault.
Low protein, high fat diets have been known to cause pancreatitis and it is a life-treatening condition. Symptoms of pancreatitis are acute vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, and in some cases, fever. The dog may have a tucked-up belly and assume a prayer position. The abdominal pain is caused by the release of digestive enzymes into the pancreas and surrounding tissue.
More severe cases of pancreatitis can develop rapidly and a dog can go into shock – a trip to the emergency veterinary center is essential.
Vets will treat your dog with fluids, antibiotics and pain relief and will withdraw all foods for a number of days to rest the pancreas. Assuming your dog survives, its pancreas may be permanently damaged. In these cases, your dog may develop diabetes mellitus if the islet cells have been destroyed or may develop exocrine pancreatic insufficiency if the acinar cells have been destroyed.
Dogs who have experienced one pancreatitis episode are susceptible to having future attacks that can be anywhere from mild to severe.
The lesson? Your dog is not a garbage can. Treats should be served in moderation and carefully monitored by one member of the family to ensure the dog isn’t over-fed. Avoiding table scraps is always a good idea.