It is a common story this time of year. The phone calls and visits from canine and feline owners alike with pets that are vomiting,
not eating and just not acting right. Of course the typical question: “Could he have gotten into anything he shouldn’t have?” “Any possibility she raided the trash or found a bone?” “Has there been anyone over recently who may have “accidentally” dropped something from their plate that the pet may have scooped up.” The answers trickle out. Slowly at first with just: “We had some friends over and I think someone may have dropped a chip”. To: “I think my brother gave him a small piece of hot dog”. And finally :”I found him chewing on a spare rib bone” or “there were some leftover burgers”. The longer we talk the more sumptuous the “meal” seems to have been. The diagnosis can be as harmless as dietary indiscretion resulting in a day or two of vomiting, loose stools and sluggishness (gastroenteritis) from eating something not typically found in the pet’s diet. In more serious cases we may find pets with chronic gastritis or pancreatitis, a disease that some veterinarians suggest is brought on by feeding of a “meal” high in fat….think hot dog, burger or fatty piece of meat. Pancreatitis that goes unabated or repeated may result in diabetes. Finally the last scenario we’ll mention is the stray rib, steak or chicken bone that finds its way into the cat’s mouth or worse into the esophagus, stomach or intestine. Now we have moved from treatable illness to medical and/or surgical emergency.
So as responsible pet owners what should we do. First, and foremost, be aware of the seriousness that can arise from feeding your pet atypical (for him or her) foods or treats. Sure you may get a tail wag or face rub as first reward but later on it may result in illness so severe that you could change things for you and your pet forever. The argument that “it was only a small piece of cheese (or hot dog)” fades when you start to put things in perspective. If you have a ten pound pet who consumes a small piece of meat multiply that quantity by about fifteen or twenty times to get a sense of the pet equivalent. Use the hot dog for example; one quarter of a hot dog to a ten pound pet is equivalent to a grown male consuming FIVE hot dogs. Now of course there are those out there who would do this but few would argue that it is a perfectly healthy thing to do.
Many pets enjoy the socialization of a group of humans over for a barbeque. The interaction and dynamic that occurs in these situations can be rewarding and entertaining for all. But remember. If the party goers can’t manage to adhere to a few guidelines to ensure the safety of your pets, confinement may be in order during the celebration. After all it is a difficult task to ignore those pleading, melting eyes that fall upon our gaze for very long. Enjoy the summer.