by Heather Murphy

Pancreatitis - what it is and what causes it. 

A little known fact that EVERY pet parent needs to know!

Christmas is a time when we eat lots of foods and rich foods.  Eating leftovers is the symbol of Boxing Day!  Which are generally all-good for us humans but not so good for our pets.

As it is the Christmas season, I wanted to bring to your attention the dangers of certain types of foods to our pets.

This is not about the usual chocolate and grapes but something far more serious that can be fatal.

Mia, 6 year old Heller/greyhound X

Met Mia – the 6-year-old blue heller/greyhound/border collie cross.  A fit, energetic, healthy, girl weighing 18 kilograms.

Leftovers were brought home from a barbecue  – a quarter of a pigs head and a hock for Mia to have as a treat.

The quarter head was left with her and she ate most of the skin and meat that evening. In the morning she was given a fistful of the fleshy white meat for her breakfast.

Her mum came home that evening to find Mia arched over, gagging and vomiting clear fluids.  Mia was taken to the vets, bloods indicated that her system was compromised – maybe a bowel instruction but more likely pancreatitis.

Mia spent three days in the hospital on a drip but there was no major improvement, she wouldn’t eat and was very groggy from the medications.

Mia was taken home for two days and syringe fed but she would only take syringe water. Another call was made to the vet and an amount of painkiller was administered under their instruction. The next day Mia was back at the vet but by now she was shutting down. Her skin was yellow as were the whites of her eyes. The vet confirmed that her organs were now in critical mode.

At the best Mia would come out of this with diabetes if she made it through, at worst she would not survive. Mia’s case was too severe, she would never regain full capacity and the family had to make the decision to end her suffering.

Sadly just eight days after eating her first pig meat treat she crossed over to the rainbow bridge.

RIP Mia - 2010-2016

Mia - RIP Nov 2016

We, at Eezapet, want you the pet parent to be aware of the dangers some foods can have on our pets.  This was an expensive process with no pet insurance. The first hospital bill for Mia was over $3000. This was a stressful experience not only for Mia but her family too Don't lose your pet – keep you pet safe this Christmas – and all year round.

Rhea Hurley VetSmart Wellington

To understand pancreatitis fully Heather Murphy interviewed Rhea Hurley Vet from Vet Smart Plimmerton, Wellington:


Eezapet relieves the itch What is pancreatitis?

VetSmart Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, which is an organ found just below the stomach. The job of the pancreas is to produce enzymes to break down food and to produce hormones insulin & glucagon that regulate our sugar levels. During pancreatitis, the digestive enzymes are activated to early & digest parts of the pancreas itself. The living tissue becomes more inflamed, exacerbating the problem.

Eezapet relieves the itch What types of foods can cause pancreatitis?

VetSmart Pancreatitis can be caused by high fat meals; the sudden release of lots of fat digesting enzymes to thought to be involved. This can include large Fatty meat meals, particularly meats like bacon, bone marrow, off cuts, or large amounts of cheese or cream. Other causes of pancreatitis can include hormone imbalances affecting fat metabolism, tumors, trauma, (like a car accident), and reaction to some drugs.

Eezapet relieves the itch Can pancreatitis affect cats as well as dogs?

VetSmart Cats can also get pancreatitis and its often more difficult to detect as their abdominal pain is often less obvious & they may not vomiting. They commonly only present with inappetence (not eating).

Eezapet relieves the itch Why does pig meat particularly affect pets?

VetSmart Pig meat can affect our pets due to its large fat layers or because of the processing of bacon or ham.

Eezapet relieves the itch Are some parts of the pig meat better than others?

VetSmart Lean, unprocessed meat is less likely to cause pancreatitis. However, this is the part of the pigs people prefer to eat. The offcuts we tend to feed our pets are the biggest problem.

Eezapet relieves the itch Is wild boar and domestic pig meat the same? I.e. cause the same reactions?

VetSmartWild boar is often leaner than domestic pigs, but again as it is often the offcuts our pets get there is less of a difference.

Eezapet relieves the itch How much is too much when feeding your pet?

VetSmart I would recommend not feeding more than 10% extra treats and sticking to a complete & balanced base meal. More than this can affect the way the body deals with breaking down nutrients.

Eezapet relieves the itch What can we do to stop our pets from suffering with pancreatitis?

VetSmart Pancreatitis is a multi-factoral disease and it may not be possible to completely avoid. As pet owners, we can avoid risks by not feeding large amounts of offcuts or leftovers, only giving medications under veterinary advice and remembering our pets size when giving treats such as cheese, bacon, peanut butter, (think pinky fingernail sized treats!).

Eezapet relieves the itch What should we do if find our pet arched over, gagging and vomiting?

VetSmart Definitely contact your vet, they may recommend a consultation to rule out other conditions, such as pancreatitis or a foreign body obstruction, which require hospitalisation. They will also be able to give medications to ease the nausea, treat high temperatures & relieve abdominal pain.

Eezapet relieves the itch How is that there are dog kibbles made from pork meat?

VetSmartGood Kibble is balanced between meat (muscle), organ tissue, vegetable material, & vitamins & minerals so there are not the high fat levels that can cause inflammation. Poor quality Kibble can be as bad as any other form of diet.

Eezapet relieves the itch If we think our dog is in pain what can we do to help them? Should we give them a pain killer?

VetSmart If your dog or cat is in pain, definitely visit your vet. Many human anti-inflammatories and paracetamols are toxic to our pet's livers. Your vet can provide safe pain relief, appropriate for the condition. Also, if there is a risk of pancreatitis, your pet’s lameness or post-op pain relief that was previously recommended may lead to liver or kidney damage, seek advice!


VetSmart Wellington Eezapet

Thanks to Rhea Hurley at VetSmart for sharing her knowledge and allowing us to share with you some hints that could save a furry friend.

Please, please share this blog with your pet friends. I have been in tears writing this blog, Mia was a lovely young soul that could still have been here today had her owners known of the dangers of pig meat and pancreatitis.


Please tell every pet owner you know. 

Please share this post.




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