It's Holiday season – that means lots of home cooked meals and leftovers. Our pets thoroughly enjoy the delicious food smells from the kitchen and the leftovers too! A disease called pancreatitis may be induced if too many leftovers are fed, the wrong kind of leftovers are given or any leftovers are fed to a pet with poor digestion.
Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. The disease differs between species in that supposedly up to 70% of cats likely already have subclinical pancreatitis (I think because as obligate carnivores, they are less tolerant to processed food made with carbs, including “grain free”). In dogs it is often precipitated by eating a fatty snack, however I believe many dogs that eat a processed diet also are predisposed or may even have subclinical components of this disease. Typically, when something is fed that overwhelms this organ, the organ swells and leaks digestive enzymes into the abdomen creating significant pain and sometimes infection. Dogs and cats usually stop eating or eat only very little, are feverish, listless and supposedly dogs more than cats vomit or experience diarrhea. However, I know many cats that vomit. Your pet may act like they have a severe stomach ache by lying upright on the floor with that painful look on their face or avoid being picked up (or cry if they are) since this puts pressure on the painful region.
A blood test can confirm the diagnosis of this disease.
Clinically, pancreatitis is almost always treated with antibiotics and fluid replacement, either iv (into the vein) or subcutaneously (under the skin). We mostly treat pancreatitis by “trickle” feeding a liquid diet, usually broth, packed with probiotics and GI caps that contain herbs such as slippery elm, marshmallow and turmeric to soothe the irritated intestine and pancreas. We follow that with tiny bits of solids, usually winter squash or pumpkin mixed with Answers clabbored raw goat milk.
Here are some tips to help reduce the incidence of this disease.
One of the main inciting ingredients of pancreatitis is fat – the part of the meat that is “trimmed” and easily tossed to the floor and consumed at the speed of light by an eagerly waiting (less than patient) dog or cat. Trimmings, bacon or processed treats ('bac-uns' or 'begguns') are treats to avoid. I always recommend avoiding processed treats all together. Fat, or trimmings, can be fed in the food bowl along with the meal – meat, bones and vegetables; just not all by itself especially on an empty stomach. One small tidbit may be fine in a strong healthy pet, but it is easy to over-do it.
Secondly, consider how healthy your pet's digestion really is … do they eat a grain free diet, do they get fresh meat, can they tolerate raw meat and / or bones to chew, are they getting enough micronutrients from whole food sources (kelp, chlorella, spirulina, Catalyn or juicing raw veggies especially leafy greens), and are they getting enough probiotics especially from whole food sources like raw fermented goat milk or kraut? If you answered “yes” to all these questions – your pet has a strong gut! If not, you may inquire to see how you can help improve your pets digestion, the foundation of a strong animal that will likely age more gracefully with reduced inflammation – and related diseases (arthritis, kidney problems, etc).
And lastly, my adage is try sticking only to feeding your pet “anything you can pick, grow, or kill.” If possible, stay away from processed treats and food, that includes homemade food too – like bread, gravies, lunch meat and synthetic cheeses, peanut butter and yogurt made with sugar.
Of course, ideal isn't possible quite often – the most important thing your pet needs of course, is love! And that IS an easy one (most of the time!). Have a blessed, fun filled & healthy holiday season – full of good things to eat.
– Dr. Teri Sue & Staff at BVC