We have been treated to a beautiful fall season so far in the Queen City and soon have Thanksgiving weekend (with all the trimmings!) to look forward to. While this is a time to enjoy with family, friends and your favorite furry companions, there are a few things to be mindful of during this food-themed holiday.
Most of us love the turkey (or ham), mashed potatoes, stuffing and mmmmm the gravy - on everything please! It is no secret that this holiday tends to be high in calories, naps and post-meal tryptophan-induced lethargy. For many of us, food is love and so naturally we wish to share that love with everyone, including our pets! Unfortunately, while many of us may only experience some mild "eater's remorse" tummy aches after a big meal, we can usually sleep it off or ease the discomfort with a long walk, whereas overeating rich foods and bones for our pets can have much more serious consequences.
Our veterinarians at Wascana Animal Hospital are usually booked solid with appointments the Tuesday after the Thanksgiving weekend, due to the revolving door of patients with gastrointestinal upset! Thankfully (no pun intended) the majority of patients seen have mild-moderate vomiting or diarrhea from eating a few too many trimmings that they shouldn't have- often these cases can be resolved with minor supportive medications, probiotics and gut-friendly diets for a couple of days. However, we are often saddened to encounter at least a few patients who won't recover as easily. These pets are usually suffering from one of two unfortunate conditions- either pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas that can be triggered by high-fat foods) or a gastro-intestinal foreign body/obstruction (bones being most common culprit). These patients often have continuous vomiting, diarrhea, lack of energy, no appetite, often abdominal pain, dehydration of varying degrees, and they feel TERRIBLE. Not to mention, their owners are often looking a bit ragged around the edges and rundown themselves from cleaning up all of the vomit and diarrhea that is occurring throughout the day and night! Both of these conditions typically require that your pet be hospitalized for several days and in the case of an obstruction, surgery is often needed. Thankfully, the majority of cases will respond to the hospitalization and/or surgical treatment and go on to recover. However, there remains a percentage of patients who are not so lucky, and dependent on how long the pancreatitis or obstruction have been present, despite appropriate treatment, their organs have become too damaged and these cases end up being fatal.
The message that our team at Wascana Animal Hospital would like to share with our clients, is that the majority of these cases are PREVENTABLE! Although it is very tempting, please avoid feeding those fat trimmings or bones to Fluffy even if they are giving you those Puss in Boots eyes (look away, look away!) There are still some table treats you could consider sharing instead such as carrots or small pieces of cooked white meat to make your pet feel like part of the celebration. To be safest, just stick to their usual diet (be sure to tell your family and friends not to slip Fido anything either!) One of the common things our team hears is that "dogs are meant to have bones so how can it really be that bad?" or "growing up we always gave our dog/cat the bones and they didn't have any problems" ....sigh... well, our veterinarians commonly see what many others don't - the broken teeth that need extracting, the vomiting/diarrhea patients, the pancreatitis cases and sadly, as in the picture below, the obstructions caused by bones - or just talk to someone who has been through one of these cases with their pet, guaranteed they won't recommend the same experience for you! In our team's opinion, it's just not worth the risk! So treat yourself to a Happy Thanksgiving, without any gastrointestinal woes the following Tuesday (at least for your pets) and stick to the carrots ;)
The material in the circle on this x-ray shows pieces of bone that have become lodged in the intestine and are causing obstruction. The small intestine in the area of the obstruction was severely damaged and the tissue was starting to die- several inches of the intestine had to be resected (cut out). Thankfully this patient went on to make a full recovery, but if surgery hadn't been performed when it was, this case would have been fatal.