By Karen A. Soukiasian
Canine pancreatitis occurs when your dog’s pancreas is dangerously inflamed. There are two types of this condition. The first is acute, which appears suddenly, without warning. The second is chronic, which is persistent and re-occurring. Attacks can vary from mild to severe to life threatening.
The pancreas is a V-shaped gland found under the liver. It comes in two sections. The smaller section, known as the endocrine portion, produces hormones such as glucagons, somostatins and insulin. The larger section is known as the exocrine portion. It produces the enzymes imperative for proper digestion. When digestive enzymes are released too rapidly, they attack and “digest” the pancreas rather than food.
Signs and Symptoms
Due to the life threatening aspect of this condition, it is important to be aware of the warning signs and symptoms your dog may exhibit. They include, but are not limited to: vomiting, arched back/tucked belly, lack of appetite, weight loss, lethargy, dehydration, isolation, difficulty getting up, fluid retention, restlessness, abdominal pain, inflammation of veins and arteries, drooling, whining, spontaneous bleeding, renal failure, shock, viral/bacterial infection and death.
Canine Pancreatitis can be idiopathic. Simply put, no actual cause is known. However, it is most commonly held it can be caused by several reasons, including genetic predisposition, rancid food, contaminated water, garbage, fatty foods, table scraps, obesity, trauma, diets of dog foods low in protein, high in fats, surgery, canine medications, over-vaccination, human prescription medications, viral/bacterial infections and tumors.
It can happen at any age, but more often than not, dogs 2-years and up, especially senior and obese dogs are at risk. Dogs with Diabetes Mellitus, Cushing’s Disease, epilepsy and hypothyroidism also appear to be at increased risk.
Breeds usually found to be 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 get your dog to your veterinarian immediately, if you suspect they may be suffering from this condition. It is not easy to diagnose and your veterinarian will need enough time to run the necessary tests, which include, physical exam, blood tests, chemistry profile, x-ray, ultra-sound, Trypsin-like Immunoreativity Test (TLT) and Specific Canine Pancreatic Lipose Test (Spec cPL).
Generally, if caught soon enough, treatment will include a 3-5 stay at the animal hospital, for total and complete rest of the pancreas. While there, they will monitor and address your dog pain management, fluid and nutritional needs either by IV or feeding tube, observe for secondary infections, such as Diabetes Mellitus, and/or if necessary perform emergency surgery, to drain the infected, inflamed pancreas.
Once released, your veterinarian will most likely prescribe a liquid diet, slowly working up to soft food and finally a regular diet of a prescribed low-fat, high fiber dog food, with smaller portions served more often. They will also be aware to avoid certain medications that are believed to trigger a flare-up.
Unfortunately, dogs that have suffered from Canine Pancreatitis are often at risk to future bouts.
Bottom line: Canine pancreatitis is a serious condition. By knowing your dog and their typical behaviors, you will be more aware of subtle, noteworthy changes. Those should be a red flag for immediate action on your part. It could save your pet’s life!
Follow Karen A. Soukiasian on Facebook