Why We Aren’t the Only Ones That Need to Watch What We Eat!

By Dr. Tracy Appelbaum, Managing Veterinarian

Most people have heard or been told to avoid certain snacks in their dog’s diet because they can hurt them. The obvious offenders, like chocolate and raisins, pet owners can usually easily name. Even some of the lesser known foods, like onions, many people are at least aware of. But were you aware that having too much fat or even allowing your dog to have indiscriminate eating habits can lead to some horrible consequences? Unfortunately, even getting into the garbage once or allowing your dog one helping of holiday leftovers from the table can lead to a restless overnight visit to your local veterinary emergency hospital.

In normal healthy dogs, an organ called the pancreas is responsible for releasing certain digestive enzymes to help your pet break down what they are eating into digestible nutrients. The pancreas also releases insulin to help stabilize your canine’s blood sugar as they eat. A condition called pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas abnormally releases its digestive enzymes which causes inflammation. This inflammation can be quite severe, especially considering there are other important organs, like the liver, in very close proximity to the pancreas. Your dog can even become diabetic because the pancreas is no longer functioning appropriately.

Some of the most common causes of pancreatitis involve a pet who has been given a high fat meal or is currently on certain drugs (some antibiotics and chemotherapeutics). There is also a possible link between obesity and pancreatitis and miniature schnauzers are a breed predisposed to this condition. If you know that your dog has eaten something that he shouldn’t or gotten into the garbage and is showing signs of vomiting, inappetence, lethargy, pain in the abdomen or fever, it is best to have them be seen by your regular veterinarian right away. There are several blood tests and imaging that can be performed by your veterinarian to diagnose pancreatitis so therapy can be started as soon as possible. Dogs are usually hospitalized for several days while receiving fluid therapy intravenously. Supportive care is aimed at controlling nausea and pain. Your pet will probably need a special low-fat diet long term to help prevent reoccurrence of this disease. Unfortunately, flare ups are not uncommon.

With the holidays approaching please remember that it isn’t only the toxic foods that you need to avoid feeding to your dog. Even that “harmless” table scrap or the accidental foray into your kitchen garbage can lead to weeks of pain and digestive discomfort for your dog. If you feel that your pet is experiencing any of the signs listed above please contact Rocky Gorge Animal Hospital to schedule an appointment.

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