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Picture this:

You’ve just finished a delicious meal, and now all you want is to clear the table and plop down into your favorite chair to relax. You take the dishes and leftover food to the kitchen and return to a quiet afternoon with family, friends, and your beloved dog.

But while you’re taking it easy, your dog sniffs the delightful smells in the kitchen, sneaks away, and eats their fill of the leftover food. Several hours later, you realize that your dog is in real distress. They seem unusually tired and may have begun vomiting yellow or greenish bile. They show signs of abdominal pain, such as whimpering or a hunched back, and have diarrhea. Later, a fever develops.

What has happened is common when a dog has access to ‘people food’ instead of dog food. During the holidays-- or after any dinner party or large meal-- your dog may discover leftovers of roasted meat, poultry skin, and gravy, whose high-fat content and seasoning can trigger pancreatitis, which is a painful inflammation of the pancreas that makes pets extremely sick. This condition can lead to dehydration, organ damage, diabetes, and, in severe cases, even death.

Other ‘people foods’ that can cause pancreatitis include cheeses and creamy sauces, high-fat or spicy processed meats and sausages, and baked goods that contain fat and sugars. Your dog’s digestive system is not equipped to handle these rich or spicy foods, and the result can be very harmful.

So how can you help your dog avoid developing pancreatitis? Here are the best ways:

  • Keep your dog on their normal, balanced diet regardless of special human occasions- i.e. holidays, dinner parties, birthdays, etc. You can use Purina's food finder to identify an appropriate food and feeding guide based on your pet's age, breed, activity level, and more!
  • Divide your dog's daily food amount into several smaller meals. Avoid giving them their full daily ration at one time.
  • Don’t increase the amount of their food just because you’re celebrating a special occasion or holiday. Your dog will be just as happy with their regular diet when you teach them that they won’t receive any food from the table.
  • Tell your guests that ‘people food’ is completely off-limits for your dog. If a guest tries to feed them something you haven't deemed safe, remove your pup from the room to keep them safe. You can also give guests a small dish of healthful treats, such as carrot sticks or blueberries, to dispense instead.
  • Offer your dog treats occasionally instead of making them a regular part of their diet. Make sure that the treats are low in fat.
  • Maintain your dog’s health by making sure they have plenty of exercise that’s consistent with their age and physical condition. Consult your veterinarian if you have questions about appropriate exercise for your pet.
  • Remain alert to any symptoms of pancreatitis in your dog. If they show evidence of this dangerous condition, such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or unusual tiredness, get immediate veterinary care for them.


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