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Dogs With Pancreatitis – Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
What are the clinical signs of pancreatitis? Can the right treatment help your dog? Check this article and discover.

Did you know that pancreatitis in dogs is a potentially life-threatening condition?

This condition can lead to so many issues that you should react as soon as you suspect that your dog has pancreatitis.

In other words, as soon as your start being suspicious about pancreatitis in dogs you should contact your veterinarian.

Keep on reading to learn more about pancreatitis in dogs, how to recognize it, which symptoms to search for and what are the risk factors.

Pancreatitis In Dogs Introduction

Pancreatitis in dogs is a serious condition that can affect your dog’s life tremendously.

Just like bloat, pancreatitis in dogs is one of those conditions that dog owners should be aware of before it occurs, or it may be mistaken for something less serious.

In medical terms, pancreatitis in dogs is described as ‘inflammation of the pancreas’, but like many other issues, this condition is much more than inflammation of the pancreas.

No home medicine or DIY treatment can ease the stress in your Fido. No, the only way to treat pancreatitis in dogs is to contact your veterinarian and provide the right veterinarian care.

Pancreatitis in dogs is a serious condition that can only be treated by a veterinarian and in a short period possible.

To understand better why this condition, why this inflammation, is dangerous we should explain better what pancreatitis is and what is the main purpose of this organ.

All in all, this organ may be small but comes with great functions and responsibilities that keep the dog’s health in order and balance.

Pancreatitis As An Organ

The pancreas is located on the right side of the abdomen adjacent to the stomach. This is a vital organ that is responsible for creating/producing enzymes that directly assist in food digestion and hormones such as insulin.

As you may know already, just like in humans, insulin in dogs is responsible for regulating blood sugar or glucose metabolism.

The roles of digestive enzymes are located in the small intestine, and hormones enter the bloodstream.

Once the pancreas becomes inflamed, the condition is called pancreatitis. This condition is very common in dogs, especially since there is no predisposition for this condition.

Dogs of any size, age, sex, and breed can be affected by this condition. This condition may be acute or chronic, with acute pancreatitis being a mild form in most cases, while there is no rule that cannon transform acute pancreatitis into a more severe form.

All in all, acute pancreatitis may range from mild to severe form. Any linked associated inflammation allows digestive enzymes from the pancreas to spill into the abdominal cavity which results in secondary damage to certain organs, such as the liver, bile ducts, intestines, and gall bladder.

A few dogs may recover from an acute episode of pancreatitis and may continue living with recurrent bouts of the disease.

When this occurs it’s considered that a dog has a severe condition, often defined as chronic or relapsing pancreatitis.

What’s The Difference Between Acute And Chronic Pancreatitis?

The biggest difference lies in how they appear, and for how long they may last.

  • Acute Pancreatitis. This type of pancreatitis appears suddenly, with no clear indicators of any condition before. If the inflammation spreads acute pancreatitis may become a life-threatening to other organs.
  • Chronic Pancreatitis. This type of pancreatitis develops over time and very slowly. In most cases, this pancreatitis has no following symptoms.

Is there a common point for both acute and chronic pancreatitis? In a way, yes. They both can be either severe or mild, and both will result in strong pain in dogs.

Pancreatitis In Dogs Causes

There are many reasons why dogs may experience pancreatitis. It may seem that this condition happens out of the blue, but there is usually a clear symptom that has led to a change in the body.

Here is a short list of the most common causes of pancreatitis in dogs:

  • Diet that is heavily based on foods of high-fat
  • Obesity
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Severe blunt trauma
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Certain medications
  • Some toxins

In some rare cases, there may be some genetic predisposition, although there are no clear indicators of this claim.

It is known that certain breeds may have been associated with higher risks of pancreatitis such as Miniature Schnauzers and some other small size dog brees, as well as toy breeds.

Some veterinarian experts believe that terrier breeds are more prone to pancreatitis.

If you are a small size dog owner already, or you are just thinking about getting a small/toy breed, make sure that you be strict when it comes to regular veterinarian check-ups.

Prevention is the key when it comes to having a healthy and happy dog.

Another thing to prevent pancreatitis in dogs is to be careful when it comes to sharing humans foods with your Fido. This applies to holiday season food especially.

It’s known that human foods are commonly rich in high-fat food that can lead directly to pancreatitis in dogs. This is something to bear in mind, especially during the holiday season, and other festive occasions.

Be careful when it comes to table scraps and especially keep an eye on your Fido during the Thanksgiving hours.

The day after Thanksgiving is known for being the busiest day at the vet’s office.

Since the number of pancreatitis-related emergency vet visits is pretty high the day after Thanksgiving, you don’t want your dog to be part of this negative tendency.

If your dog starts displaying any signs of abdominal pain, keep him away from a fatty diet.

Yes, sharing human foods with Fido is tempting, especially when they give you that look of love with their big puppy eyes, but this simple restriction may actually save his life.

Now, let’s see what are the most common symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs.

Pancreatitis In Dogs Signs

The most common clinical signs of pancreatitis in dogs include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite

As mentioned earlier, these symptoms are very common and can lead to many medical issues.

For example, diarrhea may be only a sign of an upset stomach and a disturbance that will disappear in a day. However, if it keeps on displaying for a longer period, longer than a day, you should contact your veterinarian.

When a pancreatitis-related attack occurs, your dog may take a ‘praying position’ – this position means that a dog will lower his head to the floor, and his rear end up in the air. This will happen in most cases when the attack is mild.

However, if the attack is severe, some other symptoms may display, such as acute shock, severe depression, and in some rare cases, even death may occur.

Some of the other symptoms that may be a sign that your dog suffer from pancreatitis are:

  • Hunched back
  • Vomiting that keeps on repeating
  • Dehydration

If your dog exhibits one of these signs make sure that you monitor him. If the symptoms go away in a few hours or in a day, and your dog drink water normally, it’s probably some mild stomach disturbance.

However, if the symptoms keep on, made sure that your contact your veterinarian.

Pancreatitis In Dogs Diagnose

The most effective way to know if your dog has pancreatitis or not is to visit your veterinarian.

As soon as you notice anything unusual in your dog’s behavior or eating/drinking habits you should contact your veterinarian.

The disease of the pancreas is usually challenging to diagnose because symptoms aren’t usually specific to the pancreas, which is why certain tests are in order.

Blood tests are enough for some conditions, while they are not enough when it comes to diagnosing pancreatitis in dogs.

Luckily, there are pancreatic-specific blood tests that your veterinarian may conduct to determine if your dog suffers from pancreatitis or not.

They are not 100% accurate, which is why your veterinarian will conduct several steps to determine if there is a pancreatic in your dog, or he may be troubled with some other health issues.

Here are common steps that any veterinarian should conduct to diagnose pancreatitis in dogs:

  • Throughout look on your dog’s medical history
  • Blood test to check for pancreatic enzymes, to measure them to be precise
  • Physical examination
  • Temperature check
  • Radiographs or ultrasound
  • Fine needle aspiration of the pancreas

So far the best way to diagnose pancreatitis in dogs is to perform an abdominal ultrasound. Even this method is more precise in dogs with severe pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis In Dogs Treatment

Every veterinarian aims to determine what caused pancreatitis. They will try to deal with the cause first, as that approach should have the most effective approach.

In practice, this means that if the cause was a reaction to a specific medicine, they may take them off it.

If the cause was anyhow food-related your veterinarian may suggest food alteration and maybe a meat-free diet for a couple of days.

The best way to treat pancreatitis in dogs is to know the cause. However, in some cases determining the cause is very hard.

Without the cause, there won’t be straightforward treatment to fight, and the goal, in this case, is to keep the dog as calm as possible.

It’s common for the vets’ to recommend no food or water in the first 24 hours, or they may suggest certain food.

It’s also common for pain medications to be given by injection. Another common practice for pancreatitis in dogs is giving your dog IV fluids.

Your veterinarian may also advise that you monitor your dog carefully once you get home and make use that you keep him well-hydrated.

In most cases, they will need medication for pain. When your dog starts eating normally again, and the medication treatment is completed, make sure that you put extra care into the dog’s nutrition.

This means that your dog should be put on a low-fat diet, and food that is easy to digest.

Talk with your veterinarian about best feeding practices, and what kind of food you should get to keep your dog’s health optimal.

Knowing how to choose the best food for your Fido, and how much you should serve him per day, will help you keep him strong and healthy.

Whenever you have some doubts food-wise regarding your Fido, make sure that you talk with your veterinarian.

If your dog had a single attack, a new food regime will usually last for a week or so. However, if attacks lasted for a long period and kept on repeating, your Fido may be on his new food regime for a long time, if not for the rest of his life.

Pancreatitis In Dogs Prevention

The best way to keep pancreatitis away from your dog is to monitor his diet. This doesn’t mean that you should only measure food amount and serve portions that are the best fit for him, but it means that you should provide low-fat food.

Don’t let that puppy-dog eyes trick you into giving them some high-fat human foods, because it will lead eventually to many health issues.

Serving your Fido the dog food that is specially designed for a dog of a specific age and activity level is the best way to keep your Fido healthy and happy.

The Bottom Line

If you really want to serve your Fido a delicious human food, make it a treat and serve a piece of cucumber or carrot – cucumber can be a great summer treat that dogs adore. Otherwise, keep your garbage secure, especially during the holiday season.

As mentioned earlier the day after a big holiday, such as thanksgiving, are the busiest days at the vet’s office because furry buddies manage to snatch Thanksgiving food that people love.

Holiday season food is packed with fat and comes with high fat that falls hard not only on humans but on dogs as well.

To keep dogs extra safe around the holiday season, have house rules for dogs that both family members and visitors must follow – this is the best way to keep bad food away from your dog.