STOP! PLEASE DON’T GIVE YOUR DOG THE FAT OFF THE CHRISTMAS HAM.
Yes they will eat it and they will love it. It tastes delicious. But it could just kill them or at least make them very sick.
Every year in the lead up to Christmas and the week or two following, vets all over the world are inundated with cases of Acute Canine Pancreatitis. This is a very painful and serious condition literally involving inflammation of the pancreas = pancreatitis. We see this disease all year around but is peaks at Christmas because people cannot help but give their dogs (and cats) fat off the ham bone, extra bbq sausages, steak trimmings, turkey skin, chicken skin etc.
Overweight pets are even more prone because their pancreas function is already under stress because of the excesses in their diet but any dog can be affected. The pancreas is responsible for both insulin production internally and production of the digestive enzymes that deal with fat, protein and carbohydrate. A single meal of fatty food can overtax the pancreas and cause inflammation, and a stressed pancreas (already infiltrated by extra fat in the case of overweight pets) is more likely to be affected.
Symptoms of pancreatitis:
Reduced or absent appetite.
Abdominal pain or discomfort.
Distension of the abdomen.
Red or “injected” gums.
Coma and death.
It can be life threatening in the short or long term. Dehydration , infection and blood poisoning, and heart failure are the short term threats. Long term damage to the pancreas makes the pet more prone to future bouts with less needed to “cause” a flareup. Diabetes can occur due to insulin production decline resulting in injections of insulin.
Treatment includes blood tests to determine the severity of the disease, hospitalisation, i/v fluids, diagnostic ultrasounds, pain relief, antibiotics, gut protectants, anti inflammatories, special low fat diets and time. Occasionally surgery is needed to drain abscesses.
So, please don’t give your pet's too much Christmas cheer. Some special chewy dental treats or toys are a much better option than a bout of a potentially fatal medical condition.