Your Holiday Food May Spell Danger to Your Pet

by Gigi McWhirter

With the holidays just around the corner and visions of sugarplums dancing in your head, it is important to remember to keep an extra watchful eye on what your pets are eating.

While dogs are omnivores, too much of a good thing or any of some things can make them very ill and may even be lethal.


Pancreatitis is a condition that happens when the pancreas becomes inflamed. Experts are not sure what causes the pancreas to become irritated. Some breeds, like schnauzers, are especially prone to this ailment. Dogs that are older and dogs that are overweight are also more likely to suffer from it.

Pancreatitis can be a side effect of a medication or may occur after a surgical procedure. It can also be brought on by trauma to the abdomen. However, the most common cause is by eating a fatty meal, rancid fatty scraps from dumpster diving, bacon grease and consuming table scraps like gravy and butter.

Your dog should recover from a mild case, but if it is severe it may lead to death.

If any of the following symptoms last for more than 24 hours, please consult with your veterinary team and make arrangements for your pet to be seen:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Fever or low body temperature
  • Diarrhea
  • No energy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat

Your veterinarian will probably want to run blood tests and possibly an ultrasound. If the doctor can figure out the cause of the attack, a treatment plan will be developed.

Typically, the first phase of treatment will be to keep your pet comfortable. This may include pain medication, IV fluid therapy and pulling all food then slowly introducing food back with a low-fat diet. The special diet may last for a week or two or in some cases for the remainder of the animal’s life. If it is believed the situation occurred because of a medication, your doctor may suggest to stop giving it.

One certain way to prevent food-related pancreatitis is to not fall for the sad puppy-eye routine (I am a sucker for this – ask ANY dog in the animal kingdom – I am convinced there is a memo out there that tells the dogs to come to me for treats). Also, keep your garbage cans secure so pets cannot get into them and go “shopping.”

Vets see more cases of pancreatitis during the holidays (or after a special event) because people are eating more fatty foods and sharing them with their pets.

Remember, always consult with your veterinarian, not Dr. Google, if you have any questions about your pet’s health and well-being.

Happy Howlidays and Happy Tails to you!