Mia Dances With Pancreatitis

Those of you who have been reading this blog awhile know about my beautiful black Lab Mia.  She’s two years old and is pretty much your typical lab only

The Countertop Criminal...so bad but so cute.

mostly calm.  She’s a brilliant and accomplished counter surfer.  Just this year she has absconded with:  a ribeye steak, an entire pizza, about 6 cinnamon muffins, a bottle of the kids ibuprophen (poison control call + 2 day hospital stay on IV fluids, gastroprotectants, etc.),  a bottle of Vitamin D capsules (poison control call, but fortunately it wasn’t a toxic dose). 

My friend and dog, zebra, exotic animal trainer and bear wrangler (http://www.texasbear.org/)  extraordinaire Jason Mayfield  kindly informed me that Mia’s little “problem” is 100% my fault (http://www.petiquettedog.com/dog-behavior/counter-surfing-wheres-beef/)

The above article says I should teach my dog alternate behaviors to counter surfing like banning her from the kitchen.  This, incidentally would also curb her dishwasher dish licking which would also be a good thing.  I shall add this to my to-do list, right next to “finish 2008 photo album, 2009 album, 2010 album”…you get the picture”.

I tried mouse traps (I wrapped the wire snappy part in double stick tape so it wouldn’t hurt her…don’t get all judgy!) And they worked brilliantly for about two snaps.  Then she figured out what the traps look like and learned to only counter surf in non-trap areas. 

She is astoundingly sneaky.  During the mouse trap period, she casually watched me in the kitchen the whole time I baited them with roast beef, waffles, etc. She was very nonchalant about it, just keeping me in view, out of the corner of her eye.  She even let me leave the room to check my email.  I was beginning to think she had super human intuition and knew the traps were evil.  But no, she waited until the SECOND  I left the house to get something out of the car to strike.  I heard the trap snap and found her looking sheepish under a chair.  The hit the trap one more time later that day when my husband and I were in outside in the patio.  

I had hoped that that would scare her out of covert countertop behavior, but nope.  Our busy, distracted lifestyle lends itself to forgotten food on the counters and it’s just too tempting. 

This Christmas day she hit the mother lode.  We learned that cooking bacon in the oven is by far the best way to make it.  Easy peasy and crispy perfect pig strips (as my family calls them) every time.  We are usually very careful with the bacon grease soaked paper towels and pans, but this was Christmas.

The in-law came over and we got distracted.  The kids got a go-kart for Christmas so we all went outside to watch the inaugural drive.  (During which my 9-year-old son yells “Which one’s the brake!”)

I came back inside within just a few minutes because it was flippin’ cold outside.  I swear I could hear the scary “Psycho” knife stabbing in the shower moment music playing overhead.  Scully (my little old lady who is a lower elevation food theif) was maniacally licking the floor.  Mia had “the guilty face”. 

It took me a minute to piece together what was going on, nothing looked amiss in the kitchen.  I wandered into the living room and…(key the scary movie music again, you know with all the screechy violins…or even the music from any JJ Abrams show) …THERE WAS A PERFECTLY CLEAN BACON PAN.

This would probably not strike a cold knife of fear into the heart of a mere lay person, but I know the danger of bacon grease.   Consumption of that much fatty grease is pretty much guaranteed to give the canine consumer a raging case of pancreatitis.  Which can be fatal. 

“Aw Shucks!” I proclaim calmly*

* This is not what happened at all. I actually unleashed a torrent of profanities that would definitely make Santa blush and put me on the naughty list, but this is a family blog.

I then went into problem solving mode.  She had just eaten all the grease, which in this situation is a poison, so I decided to approach it like any other poisoning.  I grabbed my handy-dandy bottle of peroxide (that we use solely for dog inappropriate object ingestions) and proceeded to try to make Mia and Scully (because I wasn’t sure how much second-hand grease she got) puke.  

I waited, and waited (it was old peroxide) and nobody vomited.  Ok. Plan “B”, go to the ER and get the “good stuff”.  Apomorphine, generally always vomit inducing. 

I sped to the ER, just daring a cop to pull me over.  I had my speech all ready, I was going to make him escort me to the ER then back home.   They always ask you if you have some kind of emergency, and dang nabbit, I did.  Pancreatitis treatment is expensive! Even for me. 

I sheepishly walk in, explain the situation and get my Apomorphine and some activated charcoal “to go”.

Of course Mia barfed (a nice greasy pile of Christmas rawhide goo) before I got home so I just froze the apomorphine.  God knows I may need it another time. 

Step 2 is to try to bind up any leftover grease in the dogs so it isn’t absorbed.  That’s what the activated charcoal/UAA (Universal Animal Antidote) gel is for.  It’s got stuff in it to bind all the bad stuff.  It’s black as the night and probably not too tasty.  Scully and Mia both get big fat doses. 

OK, now what?  The pancreas is a squishy little non descript organ that makes digestive enzymes and stuff. My take on why they get pancreatitis from eating fatty stuff is that the sudden deluge makes the gland just start activating digestive enzymes like crazy and it blows itself up.  Not literally, but physiologically, it’s sort of like a little fire, just in the belly. 

Mia's Pepcid/Charcoal/Enzyme Sandwich

I decided to try to make its job easer (after the vomit induction and charcoal) by giving her a cocktail of more charcoal, pepcid (to turn off her digestive acid producers), and digestive enzymes (to maybe do some of the pancreas’ work for it, to ease its burden).  It’s total voodoo that I made up, but I hoped it helped.  I also put both dogs on an ultra low-fat diet, to further aid that pancreas. 

Thankfully, nobody got sick.  I had to board the dogs the next day, as we had plane tickets to visit my brother in San Diego.  (My water heater broke and was leaking onto the garage ceiling on Christmas day as well, thus we had to shut off the water to the house, and subsequently cancel the house/pet sitter).  The AMCOP staff took care of them beautifully, with nary a hiccup.

I supposed I can either attribute it to my stellar intervention or their cast iron stomachs.  Either way, I’m glad they’re ok. 

We’re trying to be more diligent in the kitchen.  I am going to have to start enforcing the “no dogs in the kitchen rule”.  Hopefully it will be more effective than the “no dogs on the couch” rule, or the “no dogs pooping on the dining room rug” rule. 



6 thoughts on “Mia Dances With Pancreatitis

  1. That’s actually a pretty scary story, but with a happy ending. Thank goodness that, as a vet, you know the dangers of critters eating grease. Had it been a lay person, this story would likely have had a different ending.

    I have a friend that almost lost her cat due to a half cup of hamburger grease. That poor kitty was SO sick for awhile. As a result, I’m totally paranoid about the kitties getting into people food of any kind.

  2. Our dogs are way too short (3lb chihuahua and 30lb corgi) to counter surf, but the little one is part mountain goat and likes to climb onto the table and other surfaces to grab goodies, and the cat also enjoys “feeding” the dogs things that they could not possibly reach themselves. About a month ago, the pantry was somehow left open before we went out for the night (again, the dogs can’t reach the food on the shelves by themselves), and the cat “fed” them a 6lb bag of cat food and a 1lb bag of dog treats. Our poor corgi looked like a pot-bellied pig with his tummy dragging the ground (everybody was ok after an ER trip as well).

      1. Mia’s mom did the same thing. Gracie would take the bacon right off the counter, eat it and later get sick. (I didn’t know how dangerous it was. Yikes!) But thankfully she stopped this bad habit. Maybe it was because the mouse trap trick that we tried! Mia’s grandmother turned 14 yrs. last month. So happy Granny is still with us!

  3. Of the three Labradors I have 2 are counter surfers.. I have tried mouse traps, hot sauce, tin foil and I don’t know what all. I lost a thawing prime rib roast once and I swear when I came home Chauncy was thanking me for the nice snack I left for him but asking me to take the plastic off next time..

    Keeping them out of the kitchen is a nice idea but not going to happen in my house. What works for me is just making sure the food is out of reach or put away.
    It is so tough to change a habit where they get such great rewards..

    Good luck!

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