Jul 3, 2019   Tracey Aston   Health & Wellness

There are two things synonymous with Independence Day celebrations – fireworks and family picnics! More and more families are bringing their furry family members along with them to these picnics to enjoy the festivities and get some fresh outside air. While getting a pet out of the house and exposing them to different situations is a good thing, the risk at these picnics is the amount of high fat, good smelling food that will be readily available during the celebrations.

Grilling meats, sausages, hamburgers and hotdogs is a quick way to becoming a dog's new best friend but don't give into those sweet puppy dog eyes. High fat food, especially fatty human food, is one of the main risk factors for pancreatitis.

The pancreas is a small organ that sits behind the stomach and small intestine and helps digest food and regulate their blood sugar. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas caused by digestive enzymes becoming active while still in the pancreas instead of the small intestine. These digestive enzymes actually start to digest the pancreas itself, causing inflammation, tissue damage, swelling and severe pain!

One of the leading risk factors of acute pancreatitis is the large amounts of fatty foods found at Independence Day celebrations, such as

·         high fat meats

·         Hot dogs

·         Fried, greasy or BBQ chicken

·         Bacon

·         Gravy

·         pasta salads made with mayonnaise

·         fatty trimmings from the grill

·         potato salad made with eggs and mayonnaise

·         pastries, cakes and cookies


Pancreatitis can either be acute or chronic, and chronic pancreatitis can develop after repeated bouts of acute pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis can lead to other conditions such as EPI (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency) by directly damaging the pancreatic cells that make digestive enzymes. The frightening part of acute pancreatitis is it can come on suddenly with no previous health history prior and can quickly become deadly.  

Both acute and chronic forms can be either severe or mild, and both result in pain and the risk of serious health complications. The most common symptoms of acute pancreatitis in dogs are loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, swollen abdomen, hunching over, lethargy, restlessness and persistent gagging.

If you suspect your pet has pancreatitis, they need to be seen by a veterinarian immediately. Acute pancreatitis can be treated successfully if treatment is sought before organ damage. However, if pancreatitis isn't treated, it could lead to internal bleeding and organ failure. If caught early, acute pancreatitis can be treated successfully with antibiotics, anti-nausea medications and small portions of bland food, such as boiled chicken or boiled hamburger beef and rice, to allow the pancreas to rest and heal.

While a well-meaning friend or family member may not realize it, sharing that tasty piece of hamburger or hot dog could have serious consequences. Our pet's digestive tracts are simply too sensitive to sudden diet changes to risk sharing human food with them.

In case your fur baby is the sneaky type, make sure all containers of food are secure and pets don't have access to plates of food left sitting around. Also, this is a good time to remind pet parents to secure all leftovers, and make sure your thrash can has a lid or is in a secure area. Those yummy smells don't go away just because they make it to the trash can.

There are many great ways to include a pet in Independence Day celebrations - like a game of fetch or Frisbee or lounging in the grass together under a shade tree but when it comes to dinner time, it's best for your pet to stick with their normal diet and dinner time routine. Their digestive system will thank you! 

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