Cody is an adorable two-year-old Lab/Beagle cross who saw me at the emergency clinic on Sunday. He clearly is a very well loved family pet.
Friday was Codyâ€™s second birthday and on that night the family threw him a birthday party. Twenty-five people attended. Many of them were children. All of them brought gifts for Cody. Most of the gifts were edible.
During the party Cody received and immediately devoured several rawhides, pigâ€™s ears, and sundry other dog treats. He also took the opportunity to hoover up any human food that was dropped during the party. His owner mentioned that one partygoer accidentally dropped an entire hamburger on the floor. Cody wolfed it down as the crowd sang Happy Birthday.
As the owner recounted this story I thought to myself that this massive amount of dietary indiscretion sounded like a good way for a dog to contract pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is a life-threatening inflammation of an organ (the pancreas) that is involved in the digestion of food. I began to get worried about Cody.
The ownerâ€™s story continued. The party ended uneventfully and everyone went to bed. The next morning (Saturday) Cody woke up feeling awful. He could barely move. He had no appetite (which, the owner assured me, was most extraordinary for Cody).
The owner was not very worried initially. But by Sunday afternoon Codyâ€™s condition still had not improved. He refused to eat, and he still was extremely lethargic. He therefore wound up in my office.
When I examined Cody I was troubled. He was very lethargic. His abdomen was bloated and painful. He was extremely dehydrated. I recommended hospitalization and tests to rule out a serious problem such as pancreatitis or a foreign object (such as an undigested fragment of food) in his intestines.
Cody seemed to feel better after he was re-hydrated. And I was happy to see his test results. He tested negative for pancreatitis and other serious metabolic disturbances. His X-rays were not consistent with a foreign object in his intestinal tract.
However, the X-rays did show a very large amount of food in Codyâ€™s stomach. This was most extraordinary in a dog who hadnâ€™t eaten for two days. And it led to a diagnosis in the caseâ€“the best possible diagnosis considering the circumstances. Cody appeared to be suffering from a resolving case of gluttonâ€™s remorse (term coined by my friend Reading Maley).
Canine gluttonâ€™s remorse occurs when a dog overeats in the extreme. The stomach becomes massively and painfully distended, and the dog feels markedly ill for several days as the food slowly passes out of the stomach and through the intestines. The condition is painful and rarely triggers a life-threatening condition called bloat. However, most young dogs make it through episodes of gluttonâ€™s remorse unscathed. In my experience the condition is most common in Labs and Beagles (remember that Cody is a Lab/Beagle cross).
The nursing staff administered an enema to Cody in order to help keep everything moving through his system. I expect him to make a complete recovery. And I imagine that he never again will party as hard as he did on Friday night.