Pancreatitis in Dogs

How do I know if my pet has pancreatitis? Any adult dog or cat with symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, painful belly, or a decreased appetite is suspicious of having pancreatitis. At Little Mountain Veterinary Clinic, we tend to see more Schnauzers and small mixed breed dogs with pancreatitis.

Treatment for pancreatitis is different than most other digestive upsets, so bloodwork is needed to tell if your pet has actually succumbed to this condition. If the pancreas is happy, you can feed the gut, but if the pancreas is unhappy (your pet has pancreatitis), you do not want to feed the gut. Feeding the gut when your pet has pancreatitis only makes your pet worse and the pancreas more irritated.

The pancreas is the organ in the abdomen that is responsible for producing the enzymes that digest food before its absorption. The pancreas also produces insulin, which helps to regulate blood glucose levels and prevents diabetes mellitus. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas and develops when the enzymes produced and stored within the pancreas become active and start to digest the organ itself.

Sometimes, the cause of pancreatitis is unknown, but a history of eating fatty table scraps or allowing your pet access to garbage or spoiled food can be contributing factors. At Little Mountain Veterinary Clinic, we have in house blood testing to help diagnose if your pet has pancreatitis. Once the diagnosis has been made, the most important initial therapeutic measure is to withhold all food, water, and oral medications in order to reduce the pancreas’ workload. Hospitalization is necessary during this phase of treatment. Since your pet will not receive anything by mouth, we will need to give her/him IV fluids along with injections for vomiting and infection. Usually after 48 hours, we will repeat bloodwork and depending on the results, your pet may be able to start receiving food, fluids, and medications orally. Pancreatitis is a highly unpredictable disease of wide varying severity and it is difficult and sometimes impossible to give a prognosis.

Most dogs and cats with uncomplicated pancreatitis usually recover well after a single episode and continue to do well as long as high-fat foods are avoided. Little Mountain Veterinary Clinic carries Royal Canin brand Veterinary Diets. The Digestive Low Fat Diet is particularly beneficial for those patients who have suffered an episode of pancreatitis. The Digestive Low Fat Diet comes in both canned and dry formulas that many patients eat without further complications.

The next time your pet experiences a digestive upset with vomiting, diarrhea, a painful belly, or a decreased appetite, you may need to consider her/him tested for a possible case of pancreatitis. Call Little Mountain Veterinary Clinic at (704) 489-2444 to schedule an appointment.