Save a Life: Tips for Avoiding Pet Pancreatitis This Holiday Season

Dog is satisfied with the service in own restaurantWe all have foods we want to (or should) avoid, but the holidays make it really, really hard. Savory meats, sweet treats, and buttery goodness abound during the last few weeks of the year, and your pet isn’t immune to all the temptation. Indulgences are just plain difficult to ignore, but we hope the dangers of pet pancreatitis are enough to keep you saying “paws off” to certain dishes.

A Functioning Pancreas

The pancreas doesn’t get much credit – until it’s under attack. The truth is, a healthy, functioning pancreas completes two critical jobs. Primarily, it produces insulin, an integral part of blood glucose regulation. Second, the pancreas makes enzymes that aid in food digestion. Normally, these enzymes are secure inside pancreatic cells until released into the small intestine to do their job. They help breakdown proteins, carbohydrates, and fats so your pet’s body has energy.

Pet Pancreatitis

When pet pancreatitis occurs, the normally helpful digestive enzymes become a problem. They become active before leaving the pancreas, which damages the organ and causes inflammation. Pet pancreatitis can be acute or chronic, developing over time (often leading to diabetes).

Holiday Temptations

Fatty foods are often to blame for this dangerous disease, but sometimes, it can be tricky figuring out what precisely triggered an attack. Pets who consume poultry skin, ham trimmings, or gravy are at high risk.

Symptoms of acute pet pancreatitis usually include:

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain that doesn’t allow for standing up or moving around
  • A “hunched up” look
  • Exhaustion
  • Whining or increased vocalization

Without immediate emergency care, pet pancreatitis can become life-threatening. Dehydration, blood clotting issues, and heart arrhythmias can follow closely on its heels.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Your pet may need blood work, a digital x-ray, or ultrasound to determine an appropriate course of action. Pet pancreatitis must be treated swiftly and aggressively to ease pain and reduce vomiting. Intravenous fluids are given, but your pet must not eat or drink anything for a few days to give the pancreas a break.

Down the Road

It’s common for pets affected by pancreatitis to suffer the symptoms again. This can result from eating high-fat foods, genetic predisposition, or from the presence of a co-occurring disease.

The best steps you can take include:

  • Restricting samples from the holiday table
  • Sealing leftover containers
  • Securing rubbish bins
  • Watching closely for any tell-tale signs

Please contact us with any questions or concerns. The veterinarians and staff at Barton Heights Veterinary Hospital are always here for you and your pet. From our family to yours, we wish you a very happy holiday season!