The Potentially Fatal Dangers of Thanksgiving and Your Furry Friend
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.
- 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
- Poor appetite
- 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.
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.