Friday, November 16, 2012

Thanksgiving: Vomit, Diarrhea, & Vet Bills--oh my!

The day after Thanksgiving is often a busy day at veterinary hospitals. For many of us, this once a year holiday celebrated by wonderful food and over-indulgence for “just one day” spills over to the household pets as well. It is very tempting to give the dog(s) just a little turkey, or some of the gravy, or some of the sweet potatoes, and pretty soon, a little becomes a lot. Kind of like what happens to my plate! And after smelling the aroma of roasting turkey, fresh baked rolls, and pumpkin pie all day, what dog doesn’t feel entitled to a few samples?

But for many dogs, especially some with more delicate palates, this adventure into once a year indulgence is not easy to stomach—literally! Almost half of the calls in to the hospital, if not more, for the next two days will be related to vomiting and diarrhea. And it can get messy. If you are lucky, your dog or cat will only present one or two piles for you to clean up. If you are not so lucky, you could be cleaning all night, and into the next day.

Luckily, most cases resolve relatively quickly. In a few days, with proper diet adjustment, and sometimes a prescription to help, things do go back to the way they were. But sometimes things don’t get better so easily, and our pet becomes lethargic, dehydrated, and painful. The possibility of developing a pancreatitis is very real for dogs. They are creatures of habit and their guts are too. When dogs eat foods they are not used to digesting, and especially if the food is rich and heavy in fats, they can over stimulate their pancreas and it becomes inflamed. With inflammation there is a release of digestive enzymes into the abdominal cavity which can cause extreme pain, and in some cases, even auto digestion within the abdomen. When cats eat foods they are not used to, it creates inflammation in the stomach or intestinal tract that can take weeks or months to resolve often also affecting the pancreas and the liver. In either case, the veterinary bills can be high and hospitalization for rehydration, lab work, and possible x-rays or ultrasound is almost always necessary. Without proper treatment, pets can actually die from pancreatitis.

Obstructions from bones are surprisingly not as common, but depending on the size or shape of the bone fragment as it goes down, relative to the size of the pet, it can be just as serious of a problem—and an urgent one. If there is a tear in the gut from a sharp shard, it can mean emergency surgery.

Most of us like to spend the remainder of the holiday weekend relaxing with family, shopping for bargains, and eating more leftovers. Let’s give ourselves every opportunity to do that and stay out of the veterinary emergency waiting room this holiday. My suggestion is to stick to the plan and don’t feed anything special to the dog, or the cat, unless it is part of their normal diet. Instead, treat them to a walk or a nice nap with their person. Both of these things will undoubtedly be part of your planned holiday experience anyway!

Photo Sources:
"Beagle with food"
Photo credit:">cseeman
"Thanksgiving Meal"
Photo credit:">EraPhernalia Vintage . . . (playin' hook-y ;o

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