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Posted on 11-16-2013

While people over indulge in large quantities of not so healthy foods during the holidays, we often feed our pets too much of the wrong foods also.  Veterinarians know to expect more cases of Dietary Indiscretion during the holidays.  While cats are not immune to dietary indiscretion, the majority of the cases veterinarians see are in dogs.  Dogs tend to be more exuberant eaters - especially if offered rich table food.  And strangely, dogs' digestive systems seem to be sensitive to certain foods.

The number one offender has to be fat - followed closely by bones and then by spicy foods.  While many dogs eat fatty and spicy foods and even bones regularly and never have problems, it is clear that these foods do make plenty of dogs sick.

The usual dietary indiscretion case presents with loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea 12 - 24 hours after eating table scraps.  Fatty foods, such as ham, sausage, bacon, meat grease, steak scraps are some common offenders.  Bones will really cause problems for some dogs.  No animal bones are safe, but chicken and turkey bones are especially prone to splinter and cause damage to the gastrointestinal system.  Barbecued ribs are a triple whammy - fat, bones and often a spicy sauce.  You get the idea.

Fortunately most cases of dietary indiscretion respond to fairly conservative treatment.  Let the G.I. system rest.  A 12 - 24 hour fast with water available, is a good idea.  Medication to control vomiting and diarrhea for a few days may be all that is needed.  Occasionally, some dogs will need to be hospitalized and on I.V. fluids until they are able to keep food and water down.

Pancreatitis, a severe and sometimes fatal disease, is often associated with fat consumption in dogs.  We are not sure why some dogs are especially prone to pancreatitis after fat ingestion, but it is well documented.  Pancreatitis can be a recurring problem for some dogs after they have had it once.  Recurring bouts of pancreatitis have been shown to cause diabetes in some dogs.

When you share your holiday bounty with your pets, do so with some judgment.  Small tidbits of lean meat, bread or cooked veggies usually do not cause problems and there are lots of healthy treats available for pets.  Remember, if the treat comes from you, it will be special to them, no matter what it is.

Happy Holidays from everyone at Westwood Pet Care!

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