We all love our fur-children, and we want to spoil them. Sometimes, spoiling them goes beyond buying toys off of the shelves at your local pet stores. Pet owners often like to feed their pets table scraps, or sometimes even a whole meal from their favorite fast-food restaurant.
What may seem harmless to us could potentially be harmful towards your dog or cat. The digestive tract of a dog/cat is very delicate, and it’s always mindful to keep Fido on a nutritional diet and keeping him or her close to their ideal weight, just to make sure that obesity isn’t a factor.
Feeding your baby anything that is high in fat can result in a condition called pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is a part of the endocrine and digestive system, which is integral for the digestion of foods, producing the enzymes that digest food, and producing insulin. When pancreatitis occurs, the flow of enzymes that goes straight into the digestive tract can become disrupted, forcing those enzymes out of the pancreas and into the abdominal area, resulting in the digestive enzymes breaking down fat and proteins in other organs, as well as the pancreas. During this process, the body begins to digest itself. Due to the proximity to the pancreas, the kidney and liver can also be affected when this condition unfolds, and the abdomen will become inflamed and possibly infected as well. If bleeding occurs in the pancreas, shock and even death can follow.
Some other risk factors include obesity, hypothyroidism or any other endocrine diseases, severe blunt trauma, and there may even be, in some cases, a genetic predisposition.
Mild cases of pancreatitis usually have a good prognosis, while it’s the more severe cases have a more guarded prognosis due to the potential for systematic complications. The best defense an owner can take against this condition from developing is to be on the look-out for the warning signs, such as repeated vomiting, pain or distention in the abdominal area, loss of appetite, dehydration, weakness/lethargy and having a fever. If any of these symptoms develop, take your pet to your local veterinarian.
The good news is that pancreatitis can be treated! A thorough physical exam and diagnostic testing can be done to confirm whether your pet has pancreatitis or not. Treatment usually consists of hospitalizing your pet for nursing care, a strict bland or low-fat diet, IV fluids to combat dehydration, and medications to help with any pain, vomiting, and/or diarrhea that may occur.
Prevention is always the key! Owner vigilance is required, especially around holidays and other festive occasions. Be watchful of anyone trying to slip your dog some buttery cookies, or a fatty piece of ham! This is definitely one way to prevent your fur child from developing pancreatitis. It is always important to maintain a well-balanced diet containing everything that your furry companion needs. Feeding a diet that is high in fat should be limited long term, as well as diets that are high in protein. The same goes for treats.
Keeping your pet as close to his or her ideal weight as possible and avoidance of drugs that could possibly increase inflammation can help reduce your pet’s risk of pancreatitis. Making sure your pet isn’t overweight, and if he or she is, a reduction in said weight, and proper ongoing weight management can also be helpful.
Just keep your beloved pet on a nutritional diet, exercise as much as possible (it’s good for both the pet and the owner), and be mindful of what you feed to your furry family member.
By: Tiffany Bowmer