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Monmouth County NJ Chocolate dog vet help
Nov 21, 2018

Dietary Indiscretions and Your Pet

Written by Caitlin Pohlit, DVM

Monmouth County NJ Chocolate dog vet help

While our pets offer companionship and enrich our lives, they are also mischievous and indiscriminate at times. This lends itself to dietary indiscretion, or the act of consuming unusual items, table scraps, garbage, or spoiled food.

This behavior is extremely common, and in many cases may cause illness. Ingesting these things could lead to acute gastroenteritis, pancreatitis or foreign body obstruction. As the holidays approach, we historically see increases in these disorders, especially chocolate toxicity.

All chocolate contains caffeine, methylxanthines and theobromine, which are central nervous system stimulants and toxic to animals. Unsweetened baking chocolate contains the most; in general, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more dangerous it is.

Vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, polydipsia (increased thirst), polyuria (increased urination), restlessness, tachycardia (increased heart rate), cardiac arrhythmias, and seizures can occur. These clinical signs usually occur in a progressive fashion beginning shortly after significant ingestions, which will also largely be dependent on the animalโ€™s size and type of chocolate consumed.

Treatment is directed at decontamination, control of anxiety and seizures, and the support of renal elimination through intravenous fluid therapy. Prognosis is good with early, goal-directed treatment and care.

Dumpster diver animals and their dietary indiscretions are also considered to be an important risk factor for the development of acute pancreatitis, particularly in dogs. Pancreatitis is defined as a fully reversible, non-infectious inflammation of the pancreas. The disease can be local or lead to massive systemic inflammation affecting different organs.

Cases of pancreatitis present with a tremendously wide variety of clinical signs, many of which overlap with non-pancreatic disease like vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, lethargy, and abdominal pain. As such, your veterinarian will need to perform different tests to aid in confirming a definitive diagnosis, such as lab work and abdominal ultrasound.

Treatment is largely supportive with aggressive intravenous fluid therapy, early enteral nutrition (ultra-low-fat diets fed through the gastrointestinal tract), analgesics for abdominal discomfort, and antiemetics for nausea and vomiting.

Pets and their dietary indiscretions may involve accidental ingestion of holiday dรฉcor. These objects can lodge in the stomach or intestinal tract. Radiographs (x-rays) are necessary to make a diagnosis. If there is a foreign body in the stomach, it is possible that inducing emesis (vomiting) may result in successful expulsion.

But more often than not, this doesnโ€™t work, and a gastroscopy may be necessary. This minimally invasive scope of the stomach allows for complete visualization and endoscopic retrieval of the foreign object(s). If the foreign body is obstructing the intestine, then surgery would be warranted. Bringing your pet in for immediate evaluation is the best way to mitigate the need for surgery.

If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance or when in doubt, contact your family veterinarian, the nearest 24/7 veterinary emergency critical care hospital, and/or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and should not be used in place of the advice of your veterinarian.