Dog column: Plop plop, fizz fizz

By Marti Benson

What a time of the year for our dogs! Shiny decorations and overflowing trays of appetizers to explore. A “little bit” of Aunt Thelma’s secret-ingredient stuffing and a “dab” of Uncle Henry’s prized green bean casserole on top of the kibble.

Oops—little Lilly just dropped her mashed potatoes and gravy onto the floor. Poodle tricks in exchange for Parker House rolls. And everything chased down with a few laps from someone’s unguarded beer.

As the humans settle in for a post-turkey snooze or football game, the holiday mixer in your dog’s gut is just getting started. Vomiting and diarrhea become the lingering house guests. Most dogs will recover rather quickly from the holiday trimmings.

However, owners need to be on the lookout for the more sinister side of overindulgence and dietary indiscretion. Lethargy, drooling, ongoing vomiting or diarrhea (especially with blood), loss of appetite, panting, pacing and restlessness can be signs of something seriously wrong. What could be the problem?

• Gastric torsion—or bloat—is when the stomach becomes stretched by food, liquid or gas; and the stomach twists. This is an emergency. Torsion can happen for several reasons, including being pre-disposed to the condition. However, any dog can be susceptible especially if a dog eats or drinks too much, runs or plays a lot just before or after eating, or only eats one large meal a day. Know the symptoms—retching or unsuccessful vomiting; distended belly; panting and restlessness, and drooling. Get to a vet immediately. It can be a matter of life or death.

• Pancreatitis—inflammation of the pancreas—may begin like an upset tummy. It can rapidly become life-threatening. Symptoms may include those mentioned above, and progress to a hunched back (signaling an uncomfortable or painful abdomen), weakness, fever and dehydration.

• Toxin ingestion—from a plant (poinsettia, mistletoe, holly berries), a medication (including cannabis), certain foods (raisins, grapes, currants, and the artificial sweetener Xylitol), and even the salt dough ornament little Jimmy made you as a gift–can cause everything from GI irritation to kidney failure. If you suspect your pet has eaten anything suspicious, call your vet or Poison Control immediately at 1-888-426-4435. Heads up—they will connect you to a veterinarian for a fee.

• Foreign bodies are as plentiful as Elves on the Shelves this time of year. Ornaments and their hooks, tinsel, bows and ribbons, and tree lights are all fair game to inquisitive noses and mouths. Tasty turkey or ham bones from an unsecured trash can might lead to a trip to the emergency room for an obstruction.

• Knowing these things ahead of time and being vigilant are key to a safe and happy holiday. Don’t let the best ingredients of this season—food, family and friends, and fun—turn into a recipe for disaster for your dog. And let’s give thanks for the veterinarians and their staff who help keep our four-legged friends happy and healthy. Have a great Thanksgiving!

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