Delicious Dangers for Furry Family Members

No Fido! Table foods such as turkey, stuffing, cakes, and pies, can contain high levels of fat that your pet may be unable to digest. Photo: Thinkstock.

by Maria Libonate RVT

The holiday season has begun and with that comes a plethora of delicious foods for all to enjoy. All except your four-legged friends!

Just because you may be indulging in some holiday fare, doesn’t mean your pet should partake in it, too. These tasty treats may seem like a good idea at the time, but they can wreak havoc on your pet’s digestive system. Table foods such as turkey, stuffing, cakes, and pies, can contain high levels of fat that your pet may be unable to digest this, in turn, can lead to a very serious illness known as pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, which is the organ in the body that is most commonly known for producing insulin. It also aids in digestion by producing enzymes that help to absorb nutrients needed by the body. Small animals are biologically built to digest and absorb nutrients found in their usual diets, dependent on their species. Human diets, which are high in fats, are not as easily digested and this can cause the inflammation seen with pancreatitis.

Common symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, lack of appetite, painful and distended abdomen, and dehydration. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, but regardless should be treated as it can progress into a life-threatening condition. Treatment can vary depending on the severity of the symptoms but usually consists of hospitalization with intravenous fluids, pain medications, supportive care, and supplemental nutrition.

Other dangers of getting into holiday treats can be foreign body obstructions from bones or corn cobs, chocolate or grape toxicity, and other gastrointestinal issues from foods such as nuts, dairy, onions, and garlic. Always be mindful of what you cook or set on the table and what foods may be potentially harmful to your pet.

So the next time you have the family around the dinner table for your holiday festivities, make sure that your furry friend doesn’t get any helpings of their own. Let all family members and visitors know that table scraps should not be fed to the dog or cat and keep all foods out of reach.

Now, that’s not to say that you can’t spoil your furry family members. They deserve their holiday treats, too! Just make sure you give them pet-friendly foods such as cat or dog treats, fruits or veggies, or some tasty canned food. Many pet food companies actually produce special holiday-themed canned foods around this time of year so that you can include them in the celebration. As with people, everything in moderation!

And don’t forget after all the meals are had, and the food comas have been endured, to clean up all the leftovers and make sure your pet doesn’t have access to the trash. We all know how tempting those garbage cans laden with leftover scraps can be to them!

Enjoy the holidays as always. Eat, drink, and be merry! Let your furry companions enjoy along with you as long as you enjoy safely and responsibly.

Maria Libonate is a Registered Veterinary Technician. She works at the VCA Venice Boulevard Animal Hospital at 12108 Venice Boulevard in Mar Vista. Ph: 310.313.9118. There is also a VCA clinic at 2506 Lincoln Boulevard in Venice. Ph: 310.306.8707.