Pancreatitis in Dogs

November 18, 2016
 Pancreatitis in Dogs

Pancreatitis. Yes, it sounds scary, but depending on when your dog gets veterinary treatment and the severity of the disease, it can often be treatable. That’s why it’s important for all dog owners to understand the signs of pancreatitis.

What is Pancreatitis?
The pancreas is an organ that lies at the right side of the abdomen, tucked in next to the stomach. The job of the pancreas in dogs is the same as in humans: to regulate digestive enzymes and hormones, including insulin.

When the pancreas becomes inflamed, the condition is called pancreatitis. During pancreatitis, the pancreas releases its digestive enzymes too early and basically starts digesting itself.

What Causes Pancreatitis in Dogs?
Pancreatitis can happen to dogs of any age, sex or breed, and usually occurs without known cause. Sometimes, though, the condition is caused by eating fatty meals, so vets often see more pancreatitis during the holiday season, when dogs get more treats (either as presents or through naughty stealing).

Signs of Pancreatitis
A dog with pancreatitis may show these signs: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, fever, marked pain and/or decreased appetite. Dogs in pain may put their bottoms up in the air, with front legs stretched out and their heads down. In severe cases, a dog may go into shock or die.

Treatment for Pancreatitis in Dogs
There are many ways to treat this disease, and treatment is based mostly on when the condition is diagnosed and how severe it is. For early diagnosis, we will manage the disease through therapy, including a strict diet, which can be made more comfortable by giving the dog painkillers and intravenous (IV) fluids. We also often prescribe Nausea medications (to help with the vomiting) and antibiotics, if we suspect a related infection. Expect dogs to be in the veterinary hospital for a few days to receive these fluids and remain on the diet. In severe cases, including those involving shock, dogs may require intensive care and more IV medications.

Most dogs that receive early treatment recover from pancreatitis without any long-term effects. However, some dogs may need prolonged medical therapy and special diets. Pancreatitis that goes untreated can lead to hemorrhaging and more severe complications, including death.

Especially during the holidays, keep an eye on your dog for signs of abdominal pain or distress. Don’t wait to have him checked by a vet. Visit the Animal Clinic of Woodruff for on-site diagnostic care for your dog, or if we’re not available, we can recommend an after-hours veterinary emergency clinic.

And remember – don’t give those fatty treats to your dog. No one wants to spend the holidays in emergency care.

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