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Pancreatitis in Dogs

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas that can develop as a result of infectious or non-infectious reasons. The pancreas is an organ located near the stomach and has a significant role in digesting food by releasing various enzymes and regulating blood sugar by secreting insulin.

Pancreatitis can be a one-time minor health disruption or something that sticks for long periods of time.


Experts on the matter aren’t sure what the exact reason for pancreatitis is. Older and obese dogs are more prone to developing the illness than the rest. Schnauzers have a breed-predisposition for pancreatitis.

Some of the times, pancreatitis can be a side-effect of some drug or it can develop after a surgical procedure the dog went through. Fatty meal and table scraps can commonly trigger ‘pancreatic attacks’. Dogs easily get better from mild cases of pancreatitis, but severe cases can sometimes be very hard and lead to death.

Below are some other causes:

  • A high-fat diet
  • This is a major cause of pancreatitis, especially for a dog who gets one large helping of fatty food in one sitting
  • A history of dietary indiscretion (a medical term for saying your dog will basically eat anything)
  • Obesity
  • Hypothyroidism (or other endocrine diseases)
  • Severe blunt trauma
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Certain medications or other toxins
  • These include cholinesterase inhibitors, calcium, potassium bromide, phenobarbital, l-asparaginase, estrogen, salicylates, azathioprine, thiazide diuretics, and vinca alkaloids.
  • There may, in some cases, be a genetic predisposition


The symptoms of pancreatitis are very similar to the symptoms of any other digestive organ in distress. Such include loss of appetite, frequent vomiting, and abdominal pain, which are generally present.

Less frequent signs are lower/higher body temperature, lack of energy, reluctance to movement, dehydration, diarrhea, labored breathing, irregular heartbeat, etc. Your dog can have only one, some, or all of the symptoms. It’s impossible for an owner to know whether the dog suffers from pancreatitis without taking him to the vet.


If a dog experiences these problems for more than 24 hours, it should get checked out by a veterinarian. The afore-mentioned symptoms can be due to inflammation of the pancreas or as a result of some other more serious disease.

The veterinarian will do a thorough physical exam and ask a lot of questions about the history of the symptoms and possible changes in the dog’s diet. Laboratory tests, ultrasonography, and x-rays are required to rule out any other possible diseases. When pancreatitis has been discovered, finding out what inflamed the organ in the first place is a whole other thing.

Your vet will look at things like:

  • Your dog’s medical history
  • Blood tests to measure pancreatic enzymes
  • Physical examination including stomach, gums, heart, temperature
  • Radiographs or ultrasound, to rule out other causes
  • Fine needle aspiration of the pancreas

Can Dogs Survive Pancreatitis

Life expectancy for dogs diagnosed with pancreatitis is difficult to predict. In mild, uncomplicated cases, the prognosis is usually good, with most patients going on to make a full recovery. This is especially the case if high-fat diets are avoided and good veterinary and nursing care is provided.


If the veterinarian found out the cause for the inflammation of the pancreas, he or she will try dealing with the cause first. For example, if the disruption was just a reaction to a certain drug, the vet will take the dog off the drug and find a more suitable and safer alternative. If the cause for pancreatitis is improper diet, the dog may be put on medicinal food for one or more months, sometimes even for a lifetime when the problem tends to frequently reoccur.

When the apparent cause for pancreatic inflammation remains unclear, the focus is to keep the dog as comfortable as possible until the acute phase of the attack passes. The vet can recommend withdrawing food and water for 24 hours, pain medications, and intravenous fluids until the situation resolves.

Some common treatments are:

  • Intravenous (IV) fluid therapy in severe pancreatiti
  • Vigorous monitoring of a worsening condition
  • Antiemetic medication for vomiting (to prevent dehydration)
  • Resting the pancreas (withholding food and water for 24 hours)
  • Long-term management includes:
  • Vigilant monitoring of fat intake—No table scraps allowed!
  • Use of a prescription diet of gastrointestinal-supportive low-fat, or ultra-low fat, food.
  • Feed smaller, more frequent meals instead of one larger meal
  • Have amylase and lipase levels checked by a veterinarian regularly


It’s all in the diet. Make sure that your pup doesn’t consume high-fat food and human food; dog-proof the garbage in your home, especially during the holiday season when people also consume food high in fat.

Originally posted 2020-11-18 18:50:18. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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