Don't load dog's dish with Thanksgiving leftovers Holiday: Moderation is key to keeping your pet out of a veterinarian's office tonight -- something everyone will be thankful for.

November 26, 1998|By Dr. Dennis Selig | Dr. Dennis Selig,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

It's Thanksgiving morning and the turkey is just about cooked to perfection. The corn bread dressing is finished and repeatedly sampled by those camped out in the kitchen.

The family pet knows there will be a feast today. You look down into those adoring brown eyes of your pet and say, "Hey, why not?" Then you slip Fluffy a large slab of turkey, skin and fat.

Later Uncle Joe is also taken by Fluffy's appetite as he repeatedly feeds Fluffy crackers coated with ham spread. Finally, not wishing to throw away food the kids didn't finish, Fluffy's food bowl is filled with a liberal sampling of the day's complete menu, including the pumpkin pie.

A few hours after the last cup of coffee has been served, Aunt Karen rushes to tell you that Fluffy just threw up all over the living room carpet. You quickly rush Fluffy outside and clean up the mess. Soon, the kids report that Fluffy is retching, walking with an arched back, depressed and passing bloody, smelly stool. Upon investigation, it's clear that Fluffy is indeed very ill and in need of care.

You call your pet's doctor and he or she explains that Fluffy is suffering from "dietary indiscretion," a polite way of suggesting that your pet ate too much rich food.

Because of the potential for serious consequences to this condition, you are advised to have Fluffy examined as an emergency patient. At the veterinary hospital, a thorough examination, possibly X-rays and laboratory tests are performed to determine the extent of Fluffy's illness.

Your veterinarian tells you that Fluffy has acute gastritis, a rapidly forming inflammation of the lining of the stomach. While usually not deadly, this condition can quickly lead to pancreatitis, a deadly inflammation of the pancreas. For Fluffy, this Thanksgiving night will be spent in the veterinary hospital, possibly hooked up to IV fluids and antibiotics, having only ice cubes to lick for supper and the prospect of a bland diet for the next few days.

If you are like many of us, you will probably share some of your Thanksgiving meal with your pet, despite reading about Fluffy's situation. The key to avoiding spending Thanksgiving night at your pet's doctor's office is moderation. Recognize that your pet's GI system is sensitive and can not handle lots of rich, fatty or spicy food.

Adding a teaspoon of white turkey meat or broth to your pet's food should adequately allow you to share the Thanksgiving experience with your pet.

Dr. Dennis Selig is a veterinarian at Northwood Hills Animal Hospital in Gulfport, Miss.

Pub Date: 11/26/98

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