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In the past years working in animal hospitals, the number of gastroenteritis, foreign body obstruction or pancreatitis cases go up during the Chinese New Year holiday. Some will think vomiting and diarrhoea is no big deal but in fact they could be the early signs of a much more serious illness – pancreatitis. The cost of treating this disease could easily reach thousands and some of these cases still ended by adding to the death toll despite the best efforts from the medicial staffs.

It’s relaxing and appetitizing in holidays and looking at friends and family members feasting, your dogs will likely circle around everybody and speak with their eyes “some for me, give me a bit PLEASE~~~!"

While tiny little bit of treats maybe OK, some “gourmet" just aren’t for dogs if you don’t want to spoil your nice holiday.

Let’s give a big hand to Mrs Gullable and her beloved dog Doggy to demonstrate a list of DON’Ts:

“Roasted chicken wings" is Doggy’s favorite in the BBQ party, and he will finish the bones as well.

  • Don’t give a piece of bone that your dog may swallow nor bones will sharp edges.
  • Chicken bones and bones cooked in soup can be broken into pieces easily and are with sharp edges
  • Dog’s disgestive system is not designed for handling big pieces of bones. If they swallow a whole piece of bone, they can end up with intestinal foreign body obstruction. That will need to be taken out surgically in order to save a life.
  • The sharp edegs of the bones may cut the buccal cavity and the digestive tract, causing bleeding and then bacterial infection.
  • Raw bones may carry bacteria so it is another don’t.

 We have a big feast for a family, Doggy will have some milk.

  • Dogs can have lactose (milk sugar) intolerance
  • Rapid change of food content can also lead to gut/stomach upset (vomiting & diarrhea)

We will have BBQ pork/roast pork and there is plenty of preserved meat in the special New dish. Doggy can have a bite.

  • Fatty food (with high fat content) is a risk factor of (acute) pancreatitis
  • Pancreatitis is usually diagnosed by having unusual increase in pancreatic digestive enzymes found blood testing
  • Digestive enzymes will normally stay in the digestive system
  • When the pancreas cells are damaged, the enzymes can leak into the blood stream.
  • The abdominal cavity and the organs inside are being digested by these enzymes, causing tissue damages and severe pain.
  • Dogs that are on medications or having pre-existing diseases are more prone to pancreatitis, e.g.:
  • Obesity, diabetes, epilepsy, gastrointestinal problems, endocrine disorders (e.g. hypothyroidism, hyperadrenocorticism)
  • Certain drugs: furosemide (diuretics), tetracyclines, estrogens, sulfadrugs

Signs of canine acute pancreatitis:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Cranial (close to ribs) abdominal pain and may support the body with “praying stance”
  • Apathy and anorexia
  • In severe cases: fever, dehydration, shock, tachycardia (heart beating too fast), arrhythmia (heart beating with abnormal rhythm), jaundice (yellowing of the skin, eye-white and/or mucus membrane), intra-abdominal bleeding, respiratory distress, DIC (Disseminated intravascular coagulation, formation of small blood clots inside the blood vessels throughout the body triggered by diseases)
  •  The worst outcome is death

Pancreatitis can be difficult to treat and the medical bill can be increased exponentially when it is a severe case that involved more procedures and medicines.

  • If the dog is dehydrated and in shock, he may need to be hospitalized for a drip and intensive care
  • The dog maybe fasted when he is still vomiting and having diarrhea and to let the pancreas rest
  • If the dog is strong enough, stronger pain control medicine may be administered to ease the severe abdominal pain and the dog’s suffering
  • An acute pancreatitis can turn into a chronic one or pancreatic insufficiency that cannot be cured. If so, the dog will have to stay on special diet (ultra-low fat with increased oligo-fiber) added with digestive enzymges for the rest of his life.

If fatty meat is not alright, then fruit and vegetable should be fine, isn’t it?

  • Certain vegetables and fruits e.g.: Grapes, avocado & onion etc could cause kidney damage, leading to renal (kidney) failure, which consequences are more severe then having gut-stomach discomfort.
  • As the chemical(s) responsible for the poisoning is not yet isolated, therefore the toxicology and how the body is damaged remained unclear

Is it ok to give “Po Chai Pill/Triumpet brand pills” (for treating stomach upset in human) if Doggy is having vomiting and diarrhea?

  • Never! Vomiting and diarrhea are signs of diseases instead of the causes of them. To treat the diseases, the causes must be found
  • The list of ingredients aren’t listed on the package nor the descriptions of these pills
  • There was no literature or toxicology information available from main stream veterinary publications, making treating the poisoning from these pills extra difficult.
  • Many of the dogs who have taken these pills still died despite having intra-venous fluid flushing and intensive care. Signs included:
  1. Liver damage and increased liver enzymes in blood
  2. Severe vomiting and diarrhea and blood is often seen in the vomits and stool
  3. When the liver shut down, toxins inside the body can’t be processed and jaundice is observed. The kidneys are overloaded after the liver is damaged and kidney failure is resulted.

Gocha:  After a BBQ party at home during the weekend, Doggy run into vomiting and is now in the vet’s office

The vet may want to know: What is the vet considering?
When did Doggy start vomiting and how many times he vomited? Is he also having diarrhea (number of times)? Was he completely fine before the party? Is the vomiting related to the BBQ party or is it a problem happened before they party? Is it just the stomach affected or is it the whole digestive tract?
Is Doggy fully and regularly vaccinated? Try to rule out if the vomiting and diarrhea is caused by viral infection such as distemper and parvo virus
Did he bring up undigested food or just bile? How is the digestive tract functioning in the mean time?
Is Doggy still interested in his food? Can he keep his food down? If not, how long did he vomit after eating? How much is the digestive tract affected? Apart from infection (involves medicine treatment), will foreign body obstruction be a possible cause (need surgical treatment)?
Will Doggy scavenge if he is given the chance? Trying to rule-out or confirm with the help of environmental evidence for foreign body obstruction.
Will it be possible that your guest tried to show his affections towards Doggy by giving a bite? Is the upset caused by food change (intolerance)? Is it possible to be a pancreatitis (severe systemic problem that is unlikely to recover by treating at home and may need hospitalization)
Is there recently application of pesticides or fertilizers? Is the digestive tract irritated by chemicals and would it be caused by poisoning (may need to administer oral activated charcoal? Injection of antidote? IV fluid? Hospitalization?)

 

During the Chinese New Year Holiday, the practices you have been going to could also be having their holiday or having changed their opening hours. To play save, just give them a call to confirm and make sure you have their emergency call number.

Wish you and your pet,

Good health and good fortune in the year of the rabbit!

Reference:

  1. J.M. Steiner (2010) How I diagnose/How I treat – Chronic Pancreatitis in Dogs, Proceedings of the 35th World Small Animal Veterinary Congress 2010, Geneva, Switzerland, C11
  2. Thomas Spillmann (2008) Canine Pancreatitis – From clinical suspicion to diagnosis, Proceedings of the 33rd World Small Animal Veterinary Congress, Dublin, Ireland, p379-381
  3. Penny Watson (2007) Acute Pancreatitis in Dogs, Proceedings of the North American Veterinary Conference Congress, Orlando Florida, p458-461
  4. John Dunn (1999) Textbook of Small Animal Medicine, W.B. Saunders, Harcourt Brace and Company, Contents, problem-oriented medicine
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