One illness that does not cause elevations in blood fats but, rather, can be caused by eating too much fat is pancreatitis. That’s a disease in which pancreatic enzymes meant to break down nutrients like fats and carbohydrates spin out of control and actually start digesting the cells of the pancreas itself. Symptoms range from loss of appetite and unremitting episodes of vomiting and diarrhea to fever and acute pain around the abdomen. These may be complicated by dehydration, jaundice, kidney problems, and, in rare cases, the death of pancreatic cells that can prove fatal for the animal. Eating a lot of fat, say, from table scraps at holiday time is one of the most common causes of pancreatitis in dogs. It’s not known if it’s the total amount of fat or the drastic change in the diet that increases the risk, but it’s definitely best to avoid quick changes in diet, especially when the changes include adding a high amount of fat.
If the dog’s symptoms are mild, treatment is simply a matter of withholding food and water for 36 to 48 hours and then introducing an easily digestible, low-fat diet until the dog can go back to his usual chow once he feels better (but watch those treats and scraps from then on). In more severe cases, an arsenal of medical treatments is required that may involve a hospital stay. Whatever the intensity of the disease, preventing a recurrence means no more fatty treats, whether dog or people food, and perhaps even lower-fat kibble on a permanent basis.