Thursday, December 27, 2012

A bit of doggie gastric - vomiting maybe? - Blame the Ham!

If the title didn't make you feel a bit queasy, then the rest of this post probably will.  So, sorry in advance! And this is a long post, simply because there is a bit of information included, amongst the preaching.

Vomiting ---- it is something we have all done, and many of us, probably the first time was on  our first day on our own mothers. So, in some situations, it is normal.

Whilst rabbits can't vomit if they eat the wrong foods, dogs and
cats do vomit - and need to see the vet!
Trivia Point:  Did you know that rabbits cannot vomit?

Back to topic.... It is yuck.  We know that horrid feeling.  And we feel our pet's discomfort when we watch them gag and vomit.

Hence,  the phone calls vets all over the world get daily about vomiting pets from very concerned owners.   Good on you for taking the time to call us, as, you are right... you should be concerned. 

Vomiting is such a common sign, which occurs with many conditions, and some pets vomit so regularly, that some owners think that it is normal.

Vomiting is not normal.  Sometimes it is understandable, as it is a protective mechanism of the body (I think the body is an amazing structure.... aren't you in awe of its capabilities?)

What you need to look at when your pet starts vomiting ....
  • their behaviour - are they still running around normally, or lying down flat - 
  • what they ate in the past few days - if you had a BBQ or they snagged something they shouldn't have -
  • their gum colour - if your dog has pigmented gums then sorry this one won't work for you, but with dogs with pink gums, they should still be nice and pink, with no slimy saliva frothing around -
  • their tummy - does it look normal, or rounded like you could play drums on it
  • any diarrhoea - the combo is a double whammy for quick dehydration
Dog at the bBQ
Dogs can go to the BBQ, but they shouldn't eat food at the
BBQ - not even the leftovers!
There are few other things we need to look at but that is why you need to take your pet to the vet.  So, if your pet is a bit flat, ate a few sausages and a kebab or two at the barbie a few days ago, or wolfed down a hot dog yesterday, their mouths are very salivary and they are drooling, with a tense tummy, even without diarrhoea..... your first thing to do is CALL the VET! 

Why, you ask?  These things have happened before and your pet has bounced back, you say?

Then lucky lucky you.  Because all of those things are tell tale signs to vets that we need to go looking for the "P" disease.  That is, Pancreatitis.

I remember the days, many many  years ago, where vets  suspected dogs had this disease (and didn't realise cats get it too), but struggled to diagnose it until it was severe.  These days, we have in-clinic test kits to check, and this is what I do in almost all of my vomiting cases, if there is any hint of upper abdominal pain or, as I call it, a sore tummy. 

So, what is Pancreatitis?  There are alot of information sheets out there on this, but specifically, it is an inflammation of the Pancreas.  The Pancreas is beautifully nestled in the upper section of the small bowel, just a hop skip and a jump from the stomach.  It sits awfully close to the liver too.

It's functions?  Well it has two, actually.  The pancreas is a beautiful organ in that it has two very important functions, working side by side, but when one gets upset it affects the other. Like twins.

One function is the production of enzymes which help in the digestion of what you eat, especially those fatty or high protein foods.  It is these enzymes which leak out which causes the inflammation, as the pancreas starts to digest itself (bit gruesome, as it doesn't really auto digest, but it does stir up trouble).

The second function is managing the insulin levels in your blood stream, so it is perfectly balanced to the foods that you eat.  So if you eat alot of sugary foods, then it produces the insulin to allow your body to use these up. 

Overall, a very very busy organ, that I don't think we respect enough.... unless you get  a bout of pancreatitis, or you have sugar diabetes (Diabetes Mellitus).

The treatment of pancreatitis usually involves hospitalisation, aggressive fluid therapy, pain relief, and time.  Fingers crossed that your pet won't need surgery to treat this condition.  And yes, pets can die from this too.... when there is so much swelling and inflammation that other organs are damaged too.

So, let's respect your pet's pancreas this Christmas.

Don't give your pet a piece of ham, the left over steak, the Christmas pudding, a grape or two (this can cause renal failure), a ham bone (please don't, ever), a sausage or two, Roast Pork (that is too yummy to give them, but even if we love them, no... it will make them sick!).

It's not much, you say?  Well, did you know that a biscuit to a 10 kg dog is the equivalent of us eating a hamburger, in caloric terms?    And you have given your Maltese dog two bikkies?  Can you imagine eating two hamburgers at once? I feel sick at the thought.

Back to respecting your pet's pancreas.  

  • No Ham
  • No Ham Bone
  • No sausages, steak left overs, steak bones, lamb bones.... you know what I mean
  • No Salami
  • No Hot Dogs, Frankfurters
  • No Hamburgers
Well, I don't like the word No, so here is what you can give them
  • Their Dog Food - yup, your dog actually likes its food... so yes, they can eat that on Christmas day too
  • Cooked Chicken (no skin, no flavourings)
  • Cooked Rice
  • Vegetables (not roasted, but steamed nicely)  - they can have peas, beans, broccoli, carrots, pumpkin
And, if you really feel like giving them a bit of pork crackling, why not buy a "Pigs Ear" from your vets? 

Really, what you need to do is to keep your pet as healthy as you can.  That is all that all vets in the world want for you and your pet.