Tis the Season - for Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis—Tis the Season
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday season followed by Christmas, we also approach pancreatitis season with our pets. Pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas gland, in dogs and cats is often caused by feeding our pets from our Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter feasts.

Pancreatitis is a potentially life threatening problem for dogs and cats often caused by overfeeding of fats and table scraps from our holiday feasts. I know we all would like to share with our furred friends on these special days. Please be cautious and share leftovers (vs. table scraps) in limited proportions, if at all. Turkey can be a good source of protein and a treat for our dogs. Ham and pork products are not good choices because the fat content in this meat is not well tolerated by our pets. Nothing from the human table is the best choice.

Pancreatitis can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, lethargy, and inappetence. Pancreatitis does not involve just the pancreas gland. The liver, intestines, stomach, kidneys, and even the lungs can be involved in a bout of pancreatitis. Your pet can become very sick in a short period of time.

Diagnosis can include a good physical examination, complete history, laboratory analysis of blood, and radiographs (xrays). Some clinics may do abdominal ultrasound as well.

Treatment of pancreatitis requires hospitalization, intravenous fluids, medications to calm the pancreas and treat related problems, and time. Your pet will be under intensive care for many days. Pancreatitis may be very serious and can lead to death.

If your dog or cat starts to show signs of lethargy, abdominal pain, and/or vomiting, after being fed table scraps, contact your veterinarian immediately. The sooner the pet is diagnosed and put on appropriate treatment, the better their chances of doing well and surviving. Treating pancreatitis is potentially very expensive.

The best prevention is to not feed any table scraps and be very careful about leftovers fed from the Thanksgiving table. Money is perhaps better spent getting a special dog- or cat-specific treat from the pet store.