The holidays are here and most of us will be celebrating with our friends and family! Dad will be cooking a turkey, Mom will be making a casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and guests will bring an assortment of goodies such as pumpkin pie, egg nog, and cookies. Inevitably, food will fall from our plates while we are too busy cheering about a 50 yard touch down play. Fluffy will sneak around and gobble up whatever scraps he finds. The next morning you may notice Fluffy is a little more tired than usual. Hmm, he turned his nose up to breakfast; that's not like him. Did I just step in vomit? Is that diarrhea on the brand new carpet? If you notice any of these signs, Fluffy may be suffering from a disease called pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis is an inflammatory disease of the pancreas, one of the internal organs involved with digestion of fats and the production of insulin. Pancreatitis can occur due to eating high fat foods such as those mashed potatoes that are loaded with butter and sour cream or those rich chocolate chip cookies that Aunt Joanne always makes. Who cares about a little upset tummy you say...? We do!
Pancreatitis can be a life threatening disease and is extremely painful to experience. A simple blood test called a CPLi, Canine Pancreatic Lipase immunoreactivity test, can suggest that in fact Fluffy does have inflammation of the pancreas. Sometimes, however, it can be far more difficult to diagnose than this; your Veterinarian may need to perform further blood tests, possibly radiographs or ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis. Fortunately most of our patients recover in a few short days after being fed a bland, easy to digest diet as well as treating for the vomiting, diarrhea, and/or pain they may be experiencing. Occasionally a patient needs to be hospitalized for several days to help him get over this potentially fatal disease.
So this holiday season, do what is best for Fluffy: put him in a bedroom while everyone eats, ask your guests to please pick up any food that spills, and don't forget to spoil Fluffy with a healthy dog treat such as plain baby carrots, fresh-cut green beans, or a piece of skinless unseasoned turkey breast. Oh yeah, and don't forget to tell Uncle Tony his version of Jingle Bells may be causing permanent damage to Fluffy's ears.