The Potentially Fatal Dangers of Thanksgiving and Your Furry Friend

mmmm The Temptations of The Holiday Season!

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and I remember just how busy the vet clinic I worked for was the day after Thanksgiving.  Many dogs suffer from pancreatitis especially after big holiday feasts, their owners don’t realize that extra tasty treats and sharing put your furry friend at risk for this potentially fatal condition.

The pancreas is a v-shaped organ that helps your dog’s body metabolize sugar and produce insulin it also produces enzymes that are vital in digesting your dog’s food.

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas and is most often seen during the holiday seasons when dog owners are sharing lots of home cooked food that is greasy and high in fat.

Fatty foods are the most common cause of pancreatitis but other factors can also make your dog more prone to falling prey to this condition.

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Middle Age
  • Breed (many small breeds are more prone)
  • Fatty Diet
  • Medications (check with your vet)
  • Past incidents of pancreatitis


Dogs that suffer from pancreatitis usually start to show symptoms within a few hours of ingestion of fatty foods.

  • Hunched posture and often an unwillingness to lay down
  • Painful abdomen  (often severe)
  • Distended or swollen large abdomen
  • Lethargy
  • Poor appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea (often yellow with a greasy consistency)

Symptoms can be quite acute and a dog can become critically and even fatally sick within hours, so an owner who suspects pancreatitis should contact their veterinarian or an emergency veterinary facility as soon as possible.   Your vet will often use a physical exam, blood work, ultrasounds, and x-rays to diagnose your dog.  Treatment will likely include IV fluids, painkillers and an overnight stay with constant monitoring of your dog’s condition.

How Do You Avoid Exposing Your Favorite Furry Friend to Pancreatitis?

  • Do not feed your dog high fat foods.
  • Tell your guests not to give your dog table scraps or allow him/her to lick off any plates.
  • If your guests cannot be trusted to not share with your dog explain the risks or put your dog up for the duration of dinner festivities.
  • Prevent your dog from accessing trash, which most certainly will contain an excess of fatty treats.
  • Get your dog on an exercise program!  Obesity is a common cause and concern among veterinarians.  After you have had dinner, lace up your shoes, grab your dogs leash and reward him, not with a food treat but with a walk and some time with you.  He would prefer some one and one time and a little exercise with you anyway!

Remember:  Canines cannot metabolize the amount of fat we are use to in our regular diet, when you consider the added butter and fats we cook with during the holidays it only compounds the risks to your dog.   Keep your dog safe by not sharing, keeping food out of his reach and if you must treat your dog on Thanksgiving, find a small low fat, low salt dog treat that you can give him.

Take Your Dog for a Walk After Dinner

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  1. Amy says:

    Thanks for sharing this..had no idea about not giving your dog all this fatty stuff for Thanksgiving!


  2. Just in time advise. I never thought this could harm my dog.We used to allow my dog “ruby” to have a feast!


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