Holiday Hazard – Pancreatitis

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Holiday times are usually happy times; family comes together, we celebrate what makes us a family, think about traditions, eat, drink and be merry. When we have so many people dropping by it makes it hard to think about everything we should and should not be doing with our pets. We want them to be happy with us and to celebrate the good times.

Good times at the holidays usually have my favorite food group in it by the scads – butter (aka fat).  Everybody knows that fat is what makes everything taste so darn good but unfortunately it is also the culprit in pancreatitis.

Fat includes everything from butter, fat off the ham, to the skin on the turkey and is essential in the mashed potatoes, candied yams and on the rolls. We sneak small bites of these things to our pets so they too can celebrate the holidays and that is where we get them and us into trouble.

pancreatitis, turkey skin, vomiting, diarrhea, dog, painful, holiday, human foodYour pancreas is an organ that secretes enzymes to help with digestion and absorption of your food; when your pancreas becomes inflamed, usually by a high fat diet, it can begin to digest and absorb itself. This is a painful disease and can be life threatening.

Pancreatitis can be acute, feeding something inappropriate for the first time, or chronic in which the pet has always eaten “human” food but it becomes too much over time and they become painful.

“Human” food has a lot of seasoning that our pets don’t need in their diet and even small amounts can be detrimental to their health. Seasonings such as salt, garlic, onions are toxic to your pet and can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Nothing puts a damper on holiday times like a sick pet.

Clinical signs of pancreatitis include:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • dehydration
  • fever

Several breeds are more prone to pancreatitis that others and these breeds include Schnauzers, Cocker Spaniels and some terrier breeds while breeds such as Labs, Yorkies and Poodles seem to be less inclined to the disease. It is also thought that heavier pets may be more inclined to pancreatitis.

The clinical signs of pancreatitis are not specific to this disease but are common in all gastrointestinal diseases so diagnosis is a very important part of the treatment regimen.

Diagnosis consists of exam and blood work with some specialized tests usually being recommended also such as amylase, lipase and cPLI (canine pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity) test. X-rays may also be recommended to help diagnose this disease.

Treatment usually consists of hospitalization for a two to five days with intravenous fluid therapy, pain management and possibly antibiotics if needed. Your pet is kept off of food for 48 hours or more to allow his pancreas to heal itself as much as possible.

After your pet has been treated he may need to be kept on a low fat diet for life if his pancreas has been damaged enough and some pets have even been placed on a supplement of pancreatic enzymes.

Holidays are great fun and they can be fun for your pet without giving any of the holiday foods – just extra love and attention along with lots of me time. Keep the “human” food away from your pet so that you and he can have a great time without the slime.

You all be safe and let’s keep our service men in mind that are away from home this holiday season.

For more information on toxic foods – download my free e-book at ARCC — Animal Rehab & Conditioning Center (


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photo credit: <a href=””>texascooking</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>

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