Q:Our dogs, Stiller and Meara, love french fries, so we think they’d enjoy a latke for Hanukkah. May we give each of them one?
A:Latkes, potato pancakes fried in oil, aren’t good for dogs – but then again, neither are French fries. So I wouldn’t recommend feeding them to Stiller and Meara.
Hanukkah celebrates the miracle that one night’s supply of purified, sacramental oil kept the lights of the rededicated temple burning for eight nights. We observe this victory of light over darkness with many traditions, one of which is to eat foods prepared in oil, including potato or cheese latkes and jam-filled donuts called sufganiyot.
As delicious as they are, these and other high-fat meals can cause vomiting, diarrhea and pancreatitis in our dogs. Not only is pancreatitis painful, but it can damage the cells within the pancreas that produce hormones essential to life.
The pancreas produces insulin, which drives sugar from the bloodstream into the body’s cells to make energy. Without insulin, dogs develop diabetes and require twice-daily insulin injections.
Damage to the pancreas also can block production of digestive enzymes. If this occurs, your dogs will need enzymes with each meal.
This Hanukkah, give Stiller and Meara new toys, perhaps doggy dreidels and gelt chew treats instead of people food.
Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.