Avoiding Festive Foods that Cause Pancreatitis in Dogs

corgi dog begging for table food during christmas dinner.

The holiday season is a time for indulgence, but while we may enjoy the feast, our furry friends may not be so lucky. At South Seminole Animal Hospital, we often see a spike in pancreatitis cases during this time. While the holidays are full of delicious treats, it’s important to know which festive foods can harm your dog’s health.

What is Pancreatitis in Dogs?

Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas, an essential organ that aids digestion and regulates blood sugar. Common symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. It’s usually triggered by high-fat foods, which are abundant during the holiday season. The condition can be severe if not treated promptly.

The Peril of Poultry Bones

One of the most common festive foods, turkey, can pose a problem for our dogs. While the meat itself is generally safe in small quantities, turkey bones are a no-go. Chicken bones are just as hazardous. These bones can splinter easily and cause internal injury and even blockages. 

Peanut Butter: A Closer Look at a Popular Treat

Peanut butter often gets labeled as a dog-friendly treat, but moderation is key. While peanut butter itself isn’t toxic, make sure to choose a variety that doesn’t contain xylitol, a sugar substitute harmful to dogs. However, due to its high fat content, even regular peanut butter can contribute to pancreatitis if consumed in large amounts.

Other Toxic Foods to Avoid

  • Grapes and Raisins: Can lead to kidney disease.
  • Chocolate: Contains substances toxic to dogs, such as caffeine and theobromine.
  • Alcohol: Even a small amount can cause significant poisoning.
  • Garlic and Onions: These can cause damage to red blood cells.

The Myth of “Just a Little Bit Won’t Hurt”

You might think, “It’s just a small piece of chocolate,” or “What harm can a little gravy do?” However, even a small portion of a harmful substance can trigger pancreatitis or other health issues in dogs. 

For instance, although dark chocolate contains less sugar than milk chocolate, it’s particularly dangerous because of its higher concentration of caffeine and theobromine. Likewise, a dollop of gravy might contain more fat than you realize, escalating the risk of pancreatitis.

Treats You Can Share

If you want to include your pet in the holiday festivities, plenty of dog-safe treats are available. Offer lean meats, carrot sticks, or specially-made dog treats as a safer alternative. However, it’s a good idea to check with your vet before introducing new foods into your dog’s diet, especially if they have existing health conditions.

Monitoring Symptoms: When to Seek Help

If your dog has ingested something they shouldn’t have, it’s vital to recognize the signs of potential illness. With pancreatitis, initial symptoms can include a hunched back, repeated vomiting, and restlessness. For kidney disease, look out for frequent urination and drinking, lethargy, and loss of appetite. If you notice any of these symptoms or if your dog seems off, don’t delay—seek veterinary assistance immediately.

Smart Choices for a Joyful, Worry-Free Holiday

Awareness is the first step toward prevention. While sharing is one of the joys of the season, some things are better kept to ourselves—like our holiday feast. If you’re unsure about what you can and can’t share with your pet, a quick consultation with a South Seminole Animal Hospital veterinarian can set you on the right track.

The holidays should be a time of joy for everyone in the family—including our four-legged members. By being mindful of the foods and decorations around your pet, you can ensure a happy and healthy holiday season for all. If you have concerns about pancreatitis or other pet health issues, please contact us.