Holidays!  Food, food and more yummy food.  For humans, it is a time of rich treats and wonderful indulgences. Sometimes, our pets want to “share” these tasty offerings, too.  The problem is that many of the foods we eat over the holidays are high in fat and for our dog and cat friends who eat these fatty foods, it can mean more than an upset stomach…it can actually cause a very painful and serious condition called pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas, which helps digest food and control blood sugar, becomes inflamed.  The most common trigger for pancreatitis are fatty foods. 

Signs that your pet has pancreatitis and needs immediate care may include: nausea or drooling; vomiting; diarrhea; loss of appetite; abdominal pain; lethargy; fever; dehydration.  There may also be blood in the vomit and/or stool.

If you notice symptoms of pancreatitis, take your pet to the vet straight away.  A physical exam and diagnostic tests will help determine the next course of action.  Treatment will include: medications to control pain, reduce inflammation and prevent nausea/vomiting. Your pet may also need to be hospitalized and placed on IV fluids to restore hydration levels. In order to allow the pancreas time to recover, food and water are usually withheld for at least 24 hours and after this recovery period, a bland diet will be begun so that the easily digestible food provides nourishment while keeping the inflammation down.

Safe treats include white meat turkey (no skin or bones), plain potatoes, pure pumpkin, a small amount of cheese and plain vegetables.  Skip the butter, gravies and other high fat additives and always keep in mind any food allergies your pet may have.

Make sure that all guests and family members understand the importance of not sneaking your pet(s) treats and be sure to also keep the trash cans out of reach of curious cats and dogs. 

Pancreatitis can be life-threatening without treatment so please, stick to healthy holiday treats for your furry table guests and if you begin to notice symptoms of this very painful illness, seek veterinary care immediately. 

We see pancreatitis year round.  It can be caused by factors other than fatty foods, too. Especially around the holidays, more patients with pancreatitis – usually dogs- are admitted for care.  Help keep your pet healthy this holiday season by limiting fatty foods (and remember-no alcohol, xylitol, chocolate, turkey bones, high sodium foods, sugary foods, macadamia nuts, onions, garlic, caffeine).  If your pet does become ill or injured, remember we are here 24/7 and 365 days a year for you and for them!