Note: Even if you resist sharing your meal with Fido (great!), be sure to take the trash out - those delicious scraps are enticing but can be dangerous! Besides the risk of pancreatitis, cooked turkey bones turn into chewed up splinters that can lacerate your dog's intestinal tract.
Why can't I share Thanksgiving scraps with my dog?
Dogs, unlike people, don't adjust well to rapid diet changes (this is why we recommend week-long transitions between foods). In addition, much of our Thanksgiving feasts - and the scraps we might not want to eat - are full of fat.
How does a fatty diet cause pancreatitis?
A sudden introduction of fat can prematurely activate digestive enzymes (these typically hold off until food reaches the small intestine). Since the food hasn't yet reached its target, the digestive enzymes instead start to digest the body itself - OUCH!
As you can imagine, this causes painful inflammation and tissue damage, releasing toxins and making your dog feel very, very sick.
If your dog is experiencing any combination of these symptoms, call us - don't wait and watch!
What can I expect at the vet?
One of our veterinary technicians will take your dog's vitals and ask you questions about his recent health, when signs started, and when/what he ate.
The veterinarian will perform a thorough nose-to-tail exam, paying special attention to signs of dehydration and severe abdominal pain. She may recommend blood work to check blood cell counts, electrolyte balance and to look for abnormal enzyme levels in the internal organs. Imaging studies (such as ultrasound) can help identify the severity of pancreatic inflammation.
How is pancreatitis treated?
The intensity of treatment depends on the severity of your dog's illness. Most cases involve hospitalization and IV fluids to combat dehydration, restore electrolyte balance, and restore circulation to the pancreas to allow it to heal.
Oral medications are avoided in the early stages of treatment to prevent further aggravating the condition. The doctor will likely prescribe injectable medications for pain and nausea, and if a secondary infection is suspected, antibiotics.
Checking blood work periodically throughout treatment allows the veterinarian to monitor your dog's condition.
Nutritional management is critical with acute pancreatitis. As your dog is able, the vet will slowly introduce a low-fat diet to allow the damaged G.I. tract to heal. A prescription diet is best for recovery, so be sure to follow the veterinarian's diet instructions to avoid another flare-up.
Once your dog is home, watch her closely! If she refuses to eat or begins vomiting again, call us so the vet can recommend a course of action.
I can't help it; I HAVE to share something with my dog. Isn't there ANYTHING she can have?
We get it...your dog is part of the family, and the guilt of turning away from those begging eyes might be too much to bear as you gather together to celebrate your Thanksgiving feast.
If you MUST (though we assure you your dog will forgive you if you don't ;) share bits of your meal with your dog, keep it healthy. Here are some good choices:
Wishing a happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving to all from your friends at Tender Touch Veterinary Hospital!