‘Tis the Season to Be Jolly…and Pancreatitis!


The summer holidays are a great time for BBQs, overindulging during the festive season and generally ignoring all the healthy food rules. Unfortunately, what many people don’t realise is that these fatty meals can cause illness in our pets. This can be a particular problem in dogs which, in addition to getting an upset tummy from their excesses (we call them dietary indiscretions…) can also get pancreatitis from high fat meals. This can result in severe pain and an emergency vet visit. 


What is Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is located near the stomach and releases chemicals into the intestine to help break down food. When there is too much fat in a meal, the chemicals from the pancreas start to activate before they get to the intestines, and start breaking down the pancreas itself. This causes inflammation and pain, and can spread to other organs. Signs you may notice include vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea. In severe cases, pancreatitis can lead to shock, and death. 

How is it Diagnosed and Treated?

Diagnosis of pancreatitis may include blood testing and an ultrasound. In mild cases of pancreatitis, pain relief and anti-nausea medication may be enough to control the disease. Many cases require hospitalisation and intensive care to manage the pain and vomiting. Prevention is best! In the long term pets can experience periodic flare ups requiring treatment. Pets that have suffered pancreatitis are placed on an ultra-low fat diet to reduce the risk of flare ups. 

How Can I Prevent It?

That’s easy! Avoiding feeding fatty food. Fatty foods include: bone marrow, (watch the Christmas ham bone), sausages, food scraps and fatty treats. 

Don’t give into those well practiced ‘hard done by – I am starving‘ looks. Just give them an extra cuddle instead. 

Is There Any Other Food I Should Avoid?

There are several other types of food that are toxic to dogs. These include onion, garlic, chocolate, raisins and grapes, alcohol, and xylitol (an artificial sweetener). 

So, just hesitate a moment before throwing away food into unsecure bins or feeding scrapes under the table over festive celebrations. It might be tasty but consider first if this is going to harm your pet.

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