Pets and Pork Don’t Mix

Yum, pizza!

At some point in time, either with our own pets or someone else’s, we’ve all been guilty of giving a dog or cat table scraps. Maybe it was just a bit of pizza crust, a sliver of lunch meat, a baby carrot, a piece of meat, etc. Harmless, right? Not always.

A lot of pets suffer from ‘dietary indiscretion’ from eating human food. This can manifest in ‘harmless’ ways like diarrhea and vomiting, but it can also manifest in a dangerous, potentially deadly way in the form of pancreatitis. Pancreatitis in basic terms is an inflammation of the pancreas. It’s caused when digestive enzymes are activated inside the pancreas instead of out. Meals high in fat (i.e. pork) trigger this response. The digestive enzymes cause tissue damage, and depending on the severity of damage, they can cause death. This is not the only cause of pancreatitis, but it’s the one we’re going to discuss today.

Pancreatitis can affect either dogs or cats and often affects older, obese pets more frequently. Symptoms of pancreatitis include lack of energy, lack of appetite, fever, dehydration, vomiting, abdominal pain, and in the bad cases, shock and collapse. It’s impossible to predict which pet will suffer from pancreatitis. Some pets snack on ham or turkey with their owners all the time and then suddenly get pancreatitis. Others develop pancreatitis after their very first ever bite of ham. Whatever the case may be, pancreatitis is almost always linked to ingestion of meat and most frequently to pork.

Cat with IV fluids

Treatment of pancreatitis varies based on the severity of the condition. In some cases it’s as simple as feeding bland food and keeping the pet hydrated. In others, it’s hospitalization for 3-4 days during which they’re given fluids and kept off food for most of that time.

Once they’re well enough they’re allowed to eat a special low fat food. Special food will also be sent home for them to continue to eat as long as necessary. Some pets are permanently banned from any high fat food at all as the risk is too great.

As you can see, not only is pancreatitis painful and miserable (and possibly deadly) for your pet, but it can be potentially very costly for you!

Alright, I know, it’s still lots of fun to give pets human food. If you find that you just can’t resist those eyes, give them something healthy. Don’t give meat to your dog, try steamed broccoli, baby carrots, peas, or apples (no seeds). Do NOT give raisins or grapes as they have been linked to kidney problems. Cats can eat baked carrots, steamed broccoli, or a little bit of cooked poultry (no bones, no fat!). Don’t give your cat dairy, as most cats are lactose intolerant. Yes, cats can have a little bit of meat compared to dogs because, though they both have 4 legs, fur, and tails, cats and dogs have very different digestive abilities.

Here’s a link for what not to feed your pet.

Hope this has been helpful and remember, enjoy the journey through life with your furry friends!

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Published in: on February 4, 2012 at 9:25 am  Comments (1)  
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