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How I Nearly Killed My Dog With People Food

My German Shepherd Lola nearly died from a severe case of pancreatitis. It was then that I fully understood how bad people food can be for dogs.

Kat Merrill  |  Jul 18th 2016


I hate Mother’s Day. I have since my mom died two and a half years ago. Every year, when the holiday comes around and everyone on the earth it seems is celebrating their mom, I have to go without mine.

I was dreading the one this year as usual, so I planned an overnight trip out of town with a friend whose husband died a year ago. My German Shepherd Lola went to stay at my dad’s house. She has spent the night with him before. I figured she would be fine. I was wrong.

I tried not to panic that night when my dad called a little after 10. Since I was at a concert, I didn’t hear it ring and soon after had to find a quiet place to return his call. His message said something was wrong with Lola and I needed to call back right away.

By Kat Merrill Lola plays in the yard just a few days before coming down with a severe case of pancreatitis.

Lola plays in the yard just a few days before becoming very sick. (Photo by Kat Merrill)

She had thrown up several times after eating a bunch of grass. I wasn’t alarmed. She sometimes eats a little grass on our morning walks, and every now and then after that she hacks up the grass. After asking him multiple questions and not hearing anything that alarmed me, I thought she would be fine until I returned the next day. Wrong again.

The next morning, as my friend and I headed for breakfast, I called to check on Lola. I was stunned when my dad said she hadn’t moved since we had talked the evening before. Hadn’t gotten up to go outside, hadn’t eaten or drank anything, had not even changed position.

I drove the next two hours as fast as I safely could to get to my beloved pup. I cried off and on. In my experience, a down dog was never a good thing. Three times before, when my shepherd went down, it was time to let her go. Was I really going to have to put my daughter to sleep on Mother’s Day?

Lola was down all right. She couldn’t even lift her head when I rushed through the door. She just moved an eye so she could see me, and the very tip of her tailed thumped the floor twice. I dropped down beside her, held her, and burst into tears. But I quickly got a grip because I didn’t want to panic her or make her feel any worse than she obviously already did.

It took two strapping men to lift her 95-pound body into my truck. And as I pulled away and headed for the nearest emergency animal hospital, I looked in the rearview mirror and saw three grown men, one of them my father, standing in the street with tears running down their faces. I might never forget that sight.

By Kat Merrill Lola lies listlessly on her bed in the back of my truck as I rush her to the emergency animal hospital. I worried that she wouldn't make it there.

Lola lies listlessly on her bed in the back of my truck as I rush her to the emergency animal hospital. I worried that she wouldn’t make it there. (Photo by Kat Merrill)

When the vet tech and a doctor put Lola on a cart and rushed her through the double doors of the animal hospital, I wasn’t sure I would ever get to take her home again. Hours later, after tests and X-rays had been done, I was given the news: She would make it, but she had a severe case of pancreatitis.

When the vet said it was most often brought on by greasy foods, I felt sick at the fact that I had been sharing cheeseburgers with her whenever I had them, and that my dad had been making her a small sausage patty every Sunday morning for about the past six months when we had breakfast together at his house. After all, none of my previous dogs had ever had trouble with people food.

By Kat Merrill Finally regaining her strength and stamina, Lola enjoys a walk several weeks after her bout of pancreatitis.

Finally regaining her strength and stamina, Lola enjoys a walk several weeks after her bout of pancreatitis. (Photo by Kat Merrill)

Lola lost 6 pounds in the ensuing weeks, but has since recovered. We walk again daily, and she has regained her strength and stamina. And she’s eating only dog food from here on out.