The pancreas is a gland is located inside the abdominal cavity of your dog, close to the liver, stomach and small bowel. The function of the pancreas is to -
a) Produce and store digestive enzymes and fluids and
b) Produce and secrete hormones which are vital to the regulation of blood sugar.
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the gland which can be extremely painful and severe condition for your dog. Sadly, this is a common disease for dogs which can arise when foods high in fat content are eaten, amongst other things.
How Can I Tell If my Dog Has Pancreatitis?
How do you know when your dog is suffering from pancreatitis? In mild cases, symptoms can be quite subtle but keep an eye open for a lack of appetite and lethargy. In acute cases, you are likely to see a mixture of the below symptoms:
• Painful tummy – your dog may appear bloated, and you might find them hunching their back or lowering their front legs to try and ease the pain. They might even shake with the pain
• Weight loss
• High temperature
If you notice any of the above, contact your vet as soon as possible.
What Causes Pancreatitis In Dogs?
Some dogs are more prone to pancreatitis than others. This includes older dogs, dogs that are overweight and those recovering from surgery.
There are also certain breeds that appear more susceptible including the Miniature Schnauzer, Miniature Poodle, Cocker Spaniel, Yorkshire Terrier, Boxers and Border Collies.
The exact cause of pancreatitis is unknown although the above does suggest there is an element of genetic predisposition.
There are risk factors that have been identified and these include:
• Consuming high-fat food in one sitting
• Metabolic conditions such as diabetes or hypothyroidism
• Certain medications such as steroids
What Treatments Are there For Pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis can be life threatening and must be treated by your vet. The treatment given will depend on how severe your dog’s symptoms are. In extreme cases, they may need a couple of days stay in a veterinary hospital to be given essential IV fluids and to receive nursing care and careful feeding – a stomach tube might be necessary if your dog isn’t eating on their own. In milder cases, anti-sickness medication and pain relief might be given, and your dog can rest at home.
Ongoing Care & What To Do If Pancreatitis Returns
Most dogs with pancreatitis go on to make a full recovery but unfortunately, recurrent bouts of pancreatitis can become a thing. It is possible that after suffering with pancreatitis, you may need to move your dog onto a low-fat diet and increase their water in-take.
Low fat treats such as carrot or chicken pieces are ideal but avoid naughty treats such as cheese which is high in fat. Keeping your dog slim and fit is crucial for good health.
These long-term dietary changes will help to manage the condition and hopefully reduce future flare ups. Your vet will be able to make recommendations on what is required.
Like with any conditions, it is important to seek advice from your vet if you suspect your dog has pancreatitis. This can be a very serious condition and so do not wait to see if your dog improves before getting help.