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Home >  Blog >  What is Pancreatitis in Dogs?

What is Pancreatitis in Dogs?

Posted on 13 May 2021
What is Pancreatitis in Dogs?

Referring to the inflammation of the pancreas, pancreatitis is a common yet serious health condition. The pancreas aids in the digestion of food and the release of insulin; when left untreated, pancreatitis can be fatal.

Certain factors can increase the risk of developing pancreatitis, however, cases can appear out of the blue and sometimes an exact cause isn't clear.

With immediate treatment, the prognosis for a healthy recovery is often positive, so it's important to be aware of the symptoms and seek veterinary attention immediatley.


What are the symptoms of pancreatitis?

The onset of pancreatitis can be sudden or develop over time - symptoms may appear gradually and worsen, or become rapidly acute.

Keep an eye out for the following:

  • Hunched back
  • Bouts of vomiting
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Bloating or appearing uncomfortable
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Weakness/lethargy


What can cause pancreatitis in dogs? 

The following risk factors can cause or increase the likelihood of your dog developing pancreatitis:

  • A high-fat diet - this is one of the major causes of pancreatitis, and it can occur when a dog has one large serving of high-fat food in a single sitting
  • Obesity
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Severe blunt trauma
  • The occurrence of diabetes
  • Genetic predisposition - certain breeds of dogs are associated with higher risks of pancreatitis- poodles, schnauzers, dachshunds, cocker spaniels, fox terriers, german shepherds, alaskan malamutes
  • Certain medications or exposure to toxins


How can you reduce the risk of pancreatitis?

Food with a high fat percentage poses a significant threat to the pancreas, including both human and dog foods. Table scraps are highly discouraged for this reason - fatty cut offs or buttery desserts are dangerous to the health of your dog and can be a major cause in the onset of pancreatitis.

It's important to remain vigilant at all times of food your dog might have access to, but particularly during the holiday season, or with well-meaning guests who might feed your dog tasty foods that are not good for them. Some dogs are also renowned for digging through the trash, so keeping the trash out of their reach can reduce the risk as well.

Don't let your dog become obese. If you're concerned about the weight of your dog, or the fat content of their diet, please call us for advice.


What is the treatment for pancreatitis?

Treatment can differ depending on the severity of each individual case. Patients can require several days or weeks of treatment, including overnight stays in hospital. The most severe cases can require treatment from a specialist and intensive care attention. Early intervention and treatment is paramount with monitoring of a worsening condition.

  • IV fluid therapy is a common treatment of this illness
  • Pain-control measures
  • Antinausea treatments
  • Stomach-protector medications
  • Nutritional support with resting the pancreas followed by ongoing dieatry management 
  • Antibiotics in some cases


What are the complications of pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis can become very serious in some patients, with the prognosis heavily weighing on the severity of the disease upon presentation to a vet and the response to initial treatment. In the most severe cases, dogs present with severe shock and depression; more mild forms have a better prognosis given aggressive treatment is provided as soon as possible.

Additionally, in some dogs pancreatitis can become a recurring issue and dietary changes will need to be addressed and committed to.

If you're concerned about your pet, please contact us as soon as possible on (03) 9596 4804.

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