Canine pancreatitis occurs when your dog’s pancreas is dangerously inflamed. There are two types of this condition. The first is sharp, appearing suddenly, without warning. The second is chronic, persistent and recurrent. The attacks can range from mild to severe or life threatening.
The pancreas is a V-shaped gland found under the liver. It comes in two sections. The smallest section, known as the endocrine portion, produces hormones such as glucagons, Somostatins, and insulin. The largest section is known as the exocrine portion. It produces the essential enzymes for proper digestion. When digestive enzymes are released too quickly, they attack and “digest” the pancreas instead of food.
Signs and symptoms
Due to the life-threatening aspect of this condition, it is important to know the warning signs and symptoms that your dog may exhibit. They include, but are not limited to: vomiting, arched back / shrunken belly, poor appetite, weight loss, lethargy, dehydration, isolation, difficulty getting up, fluid retention, restlessness, abdominal pain, swollen veins and arteries, drooling, whining, spontaneous bleeding, kidney failure, shock, viral / bacterial infection, and death.
Canine pancreatitis can be idiopathic. Simply put, the actual cause is not known. However, it is more commonly held that it can be caused by a number of reasons, including genetic predisposition, stale food, contaminated water, garbage, fatty foods, table scraps, obesity, trauma, low protein dog food diets, high in fat, surgery. , canine medications, overvaccination, prescription drugs for humans, viral / bacterial infections and tumors.
It can happen at any age, but most of the time, dogs 2 years and older, especially older and obese dogs, are at risk. Dogs with diabetes mellitus, Cushing’s disease, epilepsy, and hypothyroidism also appear to be at increased risk.
Breeds that are generally genetically predisposed include, but are not limited to: Yorkshire and Silky Terriers, Miniature Schnauzers, Boxers, German Shepherds, Shetland Sheepdogs, Collies, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels, Miniature Poodles, and Dachshunds.
It is vital to take your dog to your vet immediately, if you suspect that he may be suffering from this condition. It is not easy to diagnose and your vet will need enough time to perform the necessary tests, including physical exam, blood work, chemical profile, X-ray, ultrasound, trypsin-like immunoreactivity (TLT) test, and canine specific. Pancreatic lipose test (Spec cPL).
Generally, if caught early enough, treatment will include a 3-5 stay in the animal hospital, for complete and total rest of the pancreas. While there, they will monitor and address your dog’s pain management, fluid and nutritional needs, either intravenously or via feeding tube, observe secondary infections, such as Diabetes Mellitus, and / or, if necessary, perform emergency surgery to drain the infected and inflamed pancreas. .
Once discharged, your vet will likely prescribe a liquid diet, gradually working up to soft foods, and finally a regular diet of a low-fat, high-fiber prescription dog food, with smaller portions served with more often. They will also be aware that they should avoid certain medications that are believed to trigger an outbreak.
Unfortunately, dogs that have suffered from canine pancreatitis are often at risk for future episodes.
Bottom line: canine pancreatitis is a serious condition. By getting to know your dog and its typical behaviors, you will be more aware of subtle and noticeable changes. Those should be a red flag for immediate action on your part. It could save your pet’s life!