Rich Christmas food causes pancreatitis

The festive season usually means that the house is full of loads of festive goodies… chocolates, lollies, cakes, biscuits and muffins and of course we can’t forget that Christmas cake and ham!

Whilst we are all well aware of the effects that over indulging has on us humans and our waistline, it is important to be aware of the problems that can occur when we share these festive treats with our beloved pets.


Pancreatitis is a very serious condition that is seen commonly in dogs and sometimes in cats. The pancreas is an organ involved in digestion of food. It produces hormones such as insulin and releases certain digestive enzymes to help break down food. Often after eating a rich, fatty meal the pancreas goes into over drive to break down the fat and this can lead to inflammation of the pancreas also known as pancreatitis.

Signs of pancreatitis

Christmas time, with all those fatty treats around could be thought of as Pancreatitis season! Pancreatitis is often a very uncomfortable and painful problem. Signs including lethargy, lack of appetite, vomiting, tummy pain, and diarrhoea. In serious cases, the digestive enzymes produced can cause damage to other organs and the animal can die.

Treatment of pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is diagnosed when a dog or cat has a typical history and signs. Diagnosis is supported with blood tests, X-rays and ultrasound. The successful treatment of pancreatitis depends on early diagnosis and treatment. Pets diagnosed with pancreatitis often need to be hospitalised and put on intravenous fluid drip to improve hydration and electrolyte balance. Often pain killers and medicines to control vomiting are required.

When they are feeling better and go home it is recommended to feed them frequent, small meals each day. Feeding a highly digestible,  low fat food such as Hills Prescription i/d Low fat Diet® helps reduce the workload of the pancreas. This is one organ that needs a rest!  Most dogs recover from pancreatitis with no long term effects.  However there is a possibility of relapses and long term complications may follow. These may include diabetes or an underactivity of the pancreas.

As with most things prevention is better than cure. So, as unfair as it may be, it is best to keep the festive treats all to yourself! If you really feel the need to spoil your beloved pet this Christmas there are plenty of safe pet friendly treats. Inner South Vet centre has some yummy (but low fat) Christmas treats for dogs and cats, to spoil them with!

From all of us at Inner South Vet Centre we wish you a very merry Christmas!