Pancreatitis can strike a pet at any time, but veterinarians report that most acute cases appear the day after, or few days after, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Why? Because their owners, thinking they are doing something special for their dog or cat, share parts of their holiday dinner.
One of the worst scares you can get is when your dog or cat gets an acute attack of pancreatitis. It is a horribly painful inflammation and all pet parents need to be aware of it.
Rich, fatty foods are not good for our pets. Table hand-outs are, in fact, bad for them. They put stress on their intestinal enzymes which can result in acute pancreatitis, particularly in middle-aged or older dogs and cats. High fat and high carbohydrate foods over-stimulate enzymes in the pancreas which respond before the foods hit the intestines, inflaming the pancreas.
It's not just the holidays, however, that can bring on attacks of pancreatitis. An attack can happen anytime. That is why you want to keep your pets on low fat, low carbohydrate diets, particularly as they age. And watch the treats. Good nutrition is very important for your pets but, to be honest, sometimes in spite of what you do, your pet may develop pancreatitis.
Because of that, it is important that you know the symptoms so that you can be ready if an attack hits your pet at any time. Acute pancreatitis is an emergency.
Acute pancreatitis is immediately symptomatic in dogs and the symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, a hunched back, restlessness, groaning, and avoidance of food and water. Symptoms are somewhat similar in cats, but they may be less overt. Owners may notice that the cat is 'not herself,' but there are generally more specific signs of anorexia, weight loss, and loss of interest in just about everything that was of interest before. One clue may be a yellowing of the white part of a cat's eyes.
Pets need immediate supportive treatment for these symptoms, because acute pancreatitis can be fatal. Your veterinarian will perform diagnostic x-rays and blood tests to determine the cause of the symptoms and provide supportive care. With immediate care your pet has the best chance of pulling through, but you may have to maintain him on a special diet and watch for similar warning behaviors for the rest of his life.
Here are some good additional and essential resources. Learn about this horrible disease before you need to.