As we prepare for BBQ Season, many of us are probably thinking ahead to the inevitable aftermath of too much food and too little exercise. Heartburn, indigestion, bloating, and other unpleasantries are the typical side effects of a large meal. While certainly not fun, it helps to remember that these symptoms will pass and we’ll be back to normal the next day.
For pets, however, it’s a different story. Besides the fact that some people food is toxic to pets, indulging in BBQ leftovers or scraps may lead to a dangerous condition known as pancreatitis. Understanding pancreatitis in pets and how to prevent it is critical to keeping your pet safe and healthy.
The pancreas is a glandular organ located near the stomach. Its primary functions are to secrete enzymes that aid in digestion and to regulate blood sugar by producing insulin. Pancreatitis in pets occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed and swollen; the secretion of enzymes is restricted and the surrounding tissues are affected.
Signs and Symptoms
Besides causing pain and making your pet sick, pancreatitis can be life threatening if left untreated. Seek veterinary care immediately if your pet is experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Repeated vomiting
- Abdominal pain (hunched back, reacting with pain when touched)
- Difficulty breathing
Diagnosis and Treatment
A diagnosis of pancreatitis in pets is generally made through diagnostic testing such as blood tests or ultrasound. Treatment for pancreatitis is mainly supportive and may include any of the following:
- IV fluid support
- Pain management medication
- Antibiotics (for secondary infections)
- A prescription diet
- Modified food intake for a period of time to allow the pancreas to heal
What Causes Pancreatitis In Pets?
The short answer is, we don’t know for certain. What we do know is that there are several contributing factors, including age, obesity, and certain medications. Certain breeds, like schnauzers, are also more likely to develop pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis in pets is often triggered by fatty foods such as turkey, ham, bacon, gravies and cheese sauces, baked goods and other common holiday foods. You can help to prevent pancreatitis in your pet with the following food safety tips:
- Don’t feed table scraps to your pets, and ask that your guests do the same
- Avoid leaving leftovers, cookies, etc., out where pets can reach them
- Keep trash bins covered and remove trash bags from the home as often as possible to prevent pets from investigating