Pancreatitis in dogs is a painful disease that causes vomiting and dehydration. Pancreatitis is essentially inflammation of the pancreas. Sam Meisler DVM, a small animal veterinarian, discusses the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of dog pancreatitis.
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Pancreatitis in Dogs
What is the pancreas? It’s the organ that produces and stores enzymes for digestion of sugars and proteins. The pancreas is structured and made up of proteins so a delicate balance must be maintained so that the pancreas doesn’t digest itself. Similar to storing a flammable or potentially unstable substance like gunpowder, the pancreas needs to maintain an environment using a system of checks and balances where the wrong substance is not introduced. When this balance is upset, inflammation can occur.
Symptoms of pancreatitis include vomiting, not eating, weakness, dehydration, and intense abdominal pain.
What sparks Pancreatitis? Many dogs are predisposed to it with the most common dog being the Miniature Schnauzer. A rich diet stimulates the pancreas, which can lead to a bout of pancreatitis. Stress and certain medications can also be factors in pancreatitis.
When your dog has pancreatitis, your vet will perform a blood test to look for higher levels of enzymes that are being released into the blood stream by the pancreas. Two enzymes, amylase and lipase, can increase dramatically. To treat pancreatitis, the vet will order fasting, IV fluids and/or nutrition to tone down the pancreas. Antibiotics are used if there is a concern of bacteria coming through the intestinal wall. Once the condition has calmed down, your dog will be put on a very bland, low fat diet and non-stimulatory foods. Pancreatitis attacks can last from one day up to several days. They can be serious with a very sick dog or can be quite mild where a simple diet change clears up the condition. Pancreatitis in dogs is not the same as in humans where it is related to cancer. Happily, that link is not there in dogs.
- Sam Meisler DVM
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