Does your dog raid the garbage can? Do you sneak them tasty
tidbits from your plate? Of so, and you've noticed that your
dog doesn't seem to feeling well, it may be that your dog has
pancreatitis. 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. Other dogs that
have greater risk for developing pancreatitis include those
that are overweight, older 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 in which the dog hunches up their back, vomiting,
and diarrhea. If the disease progresses without treatment, the
dog could be permanently affected. They might suffer from
hemorrhages or 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 Dog 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,
ultrasound, or a biopsy.
Treatment may include resting the pancreas by fasting the dog
from food or water for 24 hours. However, most dogs are already
suffering from dehydration at this point, so the veterinarian
may 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. Your dog may need
to stay the diet for life or they may need to stay on it until
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 then ravenously wolfs down their food and could be eating
all day, but is actually starving to death.
For dogs suffering from pancreatic insufficiency, enzyme
supplements can help replace the digestive enzymes that they
are missing. Their diet might also need the addition of other
special supplements. However, even with this severe disease,
your dog can still be comfortably maintained once their diet
and enzyme needs are assessed by your veterinarian.
The Causes And Symptoms Of Pancreatitis In Cats
One of the main functions of a cat’s pancreas is to release
enzymes to the intestines that aid in the digestion of fats,
proteins, and carbohydrates. When the pancreas fails, the
enzymes cause a build-up of inflammation in the organ, leading
to pancreatitis. The digestive enzymes may even start to digest
the pancreas itself, which can be fatal. Fortunately, if
detected and managed, many cats recover from pancreatitis.
Symptoms of Pancreatitis in Cats
Symptoms of pancreatitis in cats vary depending on the severity
of the condition. Signs of the disease typically become
apparent abruptly and without any obvious reason.
Though similar to symptoms of other health problems, here are
some common indicators of the disease:
Pancreatitis-related inflammation may also lead to related
issues, including peritonitis and diabetes, and may even damage the nearby
liver, bile ducts, gall bladder, and intestines.
Diagnosis and Outlook
At the vet, tests may be given to determine the cause of these
health issues. If the results from the test come back with
a high white blood
cell count, it could be an indicator of pancreatitis.
High levels of pancreatic enzymes in the blood result from
pancreatitis, but a cat may have pancreatitis without having
these unusual enzyme levels. X-rays may be taken to eliminate
other potential causes. A biopsy will allow the vet to
conclusively determine that your cat has pancreatitis. In
severe cases, the disease may be fatal at the onset of
Causes of Pancreatitis in Cats
Pancreatitis affects cats of all ages, genders, and breeds
equally, and less than two percent of cats will develop the
disease. There is no single conclusive cause of the disease,
but some potential contributing factors may include:
- Consuming a high-fat diet
- Ingesting toxic materials, like insecticides
- Severe injury
- Related diseases, including toxoplasmosis, inflammatory bowel
disease, liver disease,
inflammation in the bile ducts, and feline infectious
- A severe reaction to medication
- Bacteria from the intestines
For some cats, pancreatitis can become chronic, with recurring
bouts of the symptoms.
Prevention of Pancreatitis in Cats
Since the cause of
pancreatitis is frequently unknown,
preventing pancreatitis is not possible. It’s
best to be aware of the potential causes (and avoid them where
possible) and symptoms, and contact your vet if you see
any warning signs. The good news is that if a cat does develop
a mild form and receive proper treatment, the animal’s lifespan and quality of
life should not be affected.
Treatment of Pancreatitis in Cats
If your vet can assess the reason for the pancreatitis, the
source(s) of the problem should be addressed. In most cases,
however, the cause is not likely to be known, so treating pancreatitis in
cats typically includes symptom management to reduce
the pain and discomfort of vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea. Some
necessary treatments include:
- Fluid therapy for hydration
- Pain medication
- Anti-vomiting medications
- Appetite stimulants
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Vitamin B12
More on Dog Digestive Health
Gastritis in Dogs and
Signs Your Pet Needs New
Recipe to Help Dog
This information is for informational purposes only
and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice
of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with
respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a
licensed veterinarian for accuracy.