My Dog Has Pancreatitis: What Should I Do? Spotting and Treating Pancreatitis in Dogs

My Dog Has Pancreatitis: What Should I Do?
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Dog pancreatitis can occur when a dog does not eat the proper foods. Learn how to adjust your dog's diet to prevent pancreatitis.

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, or 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 symptoms subside.

Pancreatic Insufficiency

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.

More on Dog Digestive Health

Gastritis in Dogs and Cats
Signs Your Pet Needs New Food
Recipe to Help Dog Digestive Distress

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.

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