Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for sharing with family and friends all the blessings of the previous year, but for emergency veterinarians it is often a stressful and busy day.
The reason for this is the indiscriminant feeding of Thanksgiving dinner to our pets and the problems this causes. Most pet owners feed their pets a commercial balanced food throughout the year with just the occasional small treat. On Thanksgiving, however, they feel the need to share their abundant meal with their pet and often it contains the most fat-laden parts of turkey and gravy. Your pet whose digestive system is used to a consistent diet has difficulty handling this change and often gets diarrhea or vomiting and in some cases it can precipitate much more serious potentially life threatening problems such as pancreatitis and hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, the body organ that produces your digestive enzymes and regulates blood glucose levels. Why it becomes inflamed is complex but we do know that it often involves the ingestion of a higher fat meal. It is more common in small dogs like Yorkshire terriers and Schnauzers but it can happen in any dog. Veterinarians can diagnose this condition with exams, blood tests and/or and ultrasound and it usually requires hospitalization, fluids and pain medication. If your pet develops vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy get it checked out.
Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines that produces vomiting and bloody diarrhea. These animals need intensive care and should be brought in immediately.
So if you chose to share your dinner with your pet this Thanksgiving keep the amount small and avoid the fat. Lean turkey breast would be ideal. And if you think of it, give thanks for all the emergency veterinarians, technicians and support staff who will be working this day instead of spending it with their families.