Avoiding Pancreatitis in Pets this Holiday Season

San Antonio cat and dog at holiday meal.

As the holiday season approaches, it is time to take a moment to reflect on pet safety. As activities and gatherings start to happen, it gets difficult to consider all the potential hazards for your animals. Doing a little prep work on the front end is likely a little more manageable, though. 

Most of us know to avoid tinsel for kitties and chocolate for dogs, but have you thought about the risk of pancreatitis over the holidays? Keep reading to learn Ten West Bird and Animal Hospital’s best tips for preventing pancreatitis in pets.

A Primer on Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is a condition in which the pancreas becomes angry and inflamed. 

The pancreas is a lesser-known abdominal organ that normally plays a role in helping the body to digest foods by secreting enzymes that break down fats. The pancreas also secretes insulin, the primary hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar.

The pancreas is a rather sensitive organ and can easily be irritated. While the cause of a pancreatitis flare isn’t always able to be identified, sometimes triggers like obesity, trauma, or ingestion of a rich, fatty meal can be pin-pointed.

Pancreatitis in pets is a painful condition and affects digestion. Symptoms can range from mild to very severe and can include:

  • Lethargy 
  • Depression
  • Decreased or absent appetite
  • A painful abdomen
  • Standing or lying in strange positions (hunched, prayer position) 
  • Increased water intake
  • Restlessness
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

Of course, pancreatitis can share symptoms with many other disease processes as well. If you feel your pet is having any of these symptoms, it is best to schedule an appointment with us so that we can identify the problem. 

Tips to Avoid Pancreatitis in Pets

So what does pancreatitis in pets have to do with holiday pet safety? The answer lies in the holiday goodies that are about to fill our lives.

Because indulgent food choices can trigger pancreatitis episodes, holiday treats and meals are often high-risk items for our dogs and cats. 

We suggest minimizing the risk of pancreatitis this holiday season by:

  • Strictly limiting or avoiding table food for your pets
  • Not feeding fatty choices like butter, gravy, bacon, or poultry skin
  • Making sure that any holiday guests know to avoid feeding your pets
  • Considering putting your pets in a separate area of your house when guests are over
  • Keeping your holiday spreads off of unsupervised tables and counters where your pets may gain access
  • Securing your trash and other kitchen waste

It is also worth noting that pets who have had pancreatitis previously are more prone to suffer from it again.

If your pet does develop pancreatitis, we are here to help. Some dogs and cats suffering from this problem can be treated with outpatient treatment while others require more aggressive care. 

No one wants to have their pet in the hospital over the holidays, though, so doing what you can to prevent a visit to see us is always a good idea!