, Newburyport, MA


November 8, 2013

Paw Prints: Holidays bring digestive dangers


The problem is that our pets’ digestive systems are not designed to handle greasy, heavy food. As with the candy bar scenario, it is not uncommon for cats and dogs to fall ill after a Thanksgiving indulgence. Common symptoms are those of a mild tummy ache — loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. However, some cases progress to pancreatitis or HGE — hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.

The pancreas is involved in normal digestion. During pancreatitis, this organ becomes inflamed. Patients feel ill and are in a lot of pain. Many owners do not recognize this pain, as their pet is not crying out loud like a person would. Instead, the pet becomes lethargic. Some cases of pancreatitis are life-threatening. Other cases lead to diabetes.

HGE is a horrible illness that starts with a belly ache but rapidly progresses to ulcerated and bleeding bowels. The dog initially passes “raspberry jam”-like stool, but some have explosive, bloodlike diarrhea. Without rapid treatment, infection and dehydration can lead to shock and death.

Although both pancreatitis and HGE can be managed medically, prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Another caution with the holiday turkey is the string used to tie the bird while roasting. By the time the bird is carved, that string is completely saturated with turkey drippings and gravy. Pets won’t hesitate to devour this string. Cats are particularly fond of this tasty temptation.

The danger with strings is that both ends can pass through the intestines at different rates. As the faster end progresses through the digestive tract, the slower end creates a tug. This results in a tight string that begins to saw through the soft intestines. Gastrointestinal string foreign bodies are among the most dangerous objects to be caught in your pet’s intestines.

After the turkey is put to rest, sparkle and glimmer dance through December. From a pets’ perspective, holiday trees shine with glittery toys. Cats love to play with tinsel, but don’t let Fluffy eat it.

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