Avoid Sharing Holiday Food With Your Pets
Whenever we think about the holidays that will soon be upon us, we can imagine the grand meals we’ll be having with family and friends to celebrate. But we must avoid sharing holiday food with our four-legged family members! Foods that are too fatty can be dangerous to pets in that they can cause a myriad of diseases ranging from mild gastroenteritis (stomach upset) to potentially life-threatening pancreatitis. Even foods that we would consider ‘low fat’ for ourselves have more fat than a pet’s GI tract can tolerate.
The pancreas is a glandular organ that secretes enzymes to help digest, or break down, food (as well as being responsible for insulin secretion). Your pet eats a meal that passes from the mouth, through the esophagus, to the stomach, where enzymes start to break it down to specific dietary nutrients. From the stomach, the partially digested food passes to the duodenum, the first portion of the small intestine. Pancreatic enzymes are passed through a duct from the pancreas to break down starches and protein. When a pet eats a particularly fatty meal, sometimes these digestive enzymes can become prematurely activated and start to damage the pancreas itself! This can potentially lead to an inflammatory process spreading throughout the body via the bloodstream. You can see why a yummy meal can quickly become very dangerous. Vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and poor appetite are the most common signs you may see in your pet with pancreatitis.
Treatment for pancreatitis revolves around supportive care and may involve anti-nausea or pain medication, ultra-low fat diet, fluid therapy, electrolyte supplementation, and antacids, or gastroprotectants. The prognosis (or likelihood of recovery) can range from good to guarded in both dogs and cats, depending on severity. If you suspect your pet may have pancreatitis or has gotten into your family’s holiday meal, please have him or her immediately seen by a veterinarian.