Does your dog raid the garbage can? Do you sneak him tasty tidbits from your plate? Dogs that dine on greasy people food are at risk for developing pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, an organ that aids in the body’s metabolism of sugar by secreting the hormone insulin. The pancreas also secretes digestive enzymes that help with the digestion process.
While diet is often a contributing cause to pancreatitis, some breeds such as terriers are at greater risk as well as older dogs. Other dogs have greater risk for developing pancreatitis including those that are overweight, dogs with diabetes, epilepsy or other chronic conditions.
Signs of Pancreatitis
A painful, swollen abdomen is one sign of pancreatitis. Other signs include depression, lack of appetite, a rolled up appearance where the dog hunches up his back, vomiting and diarrhea. If the disease progresses without treatment, the dog could be permanently affected. He might suffer from hemorrhages, arrhythmias. Worse the disease can damage other organs when the pancreas over-synthesizes digestive enzymes that then break down the dog’s own internal organs.
Testing and Treatment for Pancreatitis
If you suspect your dog has pancreatitis, your veterinarian can run blood tests, some of which will analyze the enzymes being released by the pancreas. Other tests may include x-rays or ultrasound in addition to a biopsy.
Treatment may include resting pancreas by fasting the dog from food or water for the first 24 hours. However, most dogs are already suffering from dehydration at this point, so the veterinarian will give your dog the necessary fluids either intravenously or subcutaneously (under the skin).
Pain relievers or antibiotics may also be given to your dog.
Low-fat food specifically for such problems as pancreatitis is introduced in small amounts. Your veterinarian will be able to explain the best food or diet for your dog. He may need to stay on it for life or he may need to stay on it until his symptoms subside.
For some dogs, pancreatitis may become chronic and could lead to a problem called pancreatic insufficiency. Dogs with pancreatic insufficiency do not absorb the nutrients in their food and expel those nutrients undigested in their feces. The dog ravenously wolfs down his food and could be eating all day, but he is actually starving to death.
For dogs suffering from pancreatic insufficiency, enzyme supplements can help replace the digestive enzymes that he is missing. His diet might also need to be changed with the addition of other special supplements. However, even with this severe disease, your dog can still be comfortably maintained once his diet and enzyme needs are assessed by the veterinarian.