Food dangers for pets

Ritter the chocolate Labrador Retriever has all the ingredients for a belly ache. Courtesy photo

By Dr. Garrett Levin, DMV

No matter the time of year, as tasty as these foods are for us, they can be problematic for dogs.

Dietary indiscretion describes gastrointestinal upset that occurs when a dog ingests something that its body cannot tolerate, causing irritation and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. The most common cause is when animals get into the trash or are fed people food or table scraps.

Most cases of dietary indiscretion are mild and do not have lasting consequences. However, some dogs can suffer severe illness that require more intensive treatment. Pancreatitis is a painful and sometimes life-threatening condition resulting from severe inflammation of the pancreas. Dogs that consume non-digestible items (such as bones) can develop intestinal obstructions or perforations that are surgical emergencies.

Common clinical signs of dietary indiscretion:

Diarrhea – small amounts of blood may be noted in the feces

Loss of appetite and nausea



Loud intestinal noises

Pacing, panting, whining, or showing other signs of abdominal pain and discomfort

Many cases of dietary indiscretion are diagnosed based on symptoms and physical examination by a veterinarian. In severe cases, veterinarians may perform blood and fecal tests, perform abdominal radiographs (x-rays) and abdominal ultrasound (sonogram), as well as other diagnostics to rule out other concurrent abnormalities associated with the clinical signs.

Many mild cases of dietary indiscretion resolve if the dog is fed a special, easily digestible diet such as boiled chicken and rice. More severe cases of dietary indiscretion can result in dehydration and require hospitalization. Please consult with your primary veterinarian if the clinical signs do not quickly resolve on their own.

Here are some additional tips how to keep your pet safe:

Keep garbage in a secure container

Keep food in the cupboard or refrigerator

Don’t leave food on the counter or table

Don’t feed your pet people food (“table scraps”).

Don’t give your pet bones to chew on

If your pet is exhibiting signs of distress, contact your veterinarian, or an emergency vet if your regular office is closed.

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