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What is Pancreatitis in Dogs?

Posted by Reedy Creek Vet on 7 May 2021
What is Pancreatitis in Dogs?

Pancreatitis is a condition referring to the severe inflammation of the pancreas. It's a common yet serious and potentially fatal health issue, affecting dogs of all types. The pancreas is involved in digesting food and releasing insulin in the body; when left untreated, pancreatitis can be life-threatening and potentially fatal.

While there are certain risk factors and causes, pancreatitis can often appear out of the blue. Timeliness is of the essence if your dog is experiencing pancreatitis - getting immediate treatment will give your dog the best chance of recovery. Having an understanding of the symptoms will help you be aware of any sudden onsets of pancreatitis so you can take action sooner.


What are the symptoms of pancreatitis?

The onset of pancreatitis can appear through symptoms suddenly or over time. Keep an eye out for the following:

  • Hunching of the back
  • Bouts of vomiting - either intermittently within a few hours or over several days
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Bloating or appearing uncomfortable
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Weakness/lethargy
  • Inability to settle or relax


What can cause pancreatitis in dogs?

A diet high in fat or an adventurous dog's rumble through the garbage are some of the common causes of pancreatitis. However, there's other contributing factors and often no cause can be determined at all.

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
  • Diabetes
  • Genetic disposition is also a cause - certain breeds of dogs are associated with higher risks of pancreatitis.
  • Certain medications of exposure to toxins


How can you reduce the risk of pancreatitis?

While the exact cause of pancreatitis is unknown, there are some common risk factors that increase the likelihood of the illness developing.

A high fat diet is a major risk factor in the development of the disease. This includes both dog and human foods. Giving your dog table scraps such as fatty cut offs or buttery filled pastries is generally not advised for any reason - setting good habits early about table behaviour will reduce the chances they'll hassle guests at your next dinner party, keeping them healthy and safe.

It's also important to remain vigilant of food your dog may get their paws on when you're not looking. If you're looking for advice on a healthy diet for your dog, our vets can help.


What is the treatment for pancreatitis?

Depending on the severity of the individual case, treatment can have different approaches. Patients can require several days or weeks of treatment, including overnight stays in hospital.

Supportive care, pain management and the prevention of further complications are the primary treatments for pancreatitis. The most severe cases can require treatment from a specialist and intensive care attention.

  • IV fluid therapy is a common treatment method for this illness
  • Pain-control measures
  • Antinausea treatments
  • Stomach-protection medications
  • Nutritional support
  • Antibiotics in some cases


What are the complications of pancreatitis?

The prognosis of pancreatitis relies heavily on how the patient presents, how severe their illness is and how they respond to initial courses of treatment. This is why timeliness is of the essence if your dog is exhibiting any of the previously mentioned symptoms - it's urgent you get them veterinary attention and care.

More mild cases have a better prognosis given aggressive treatment is provided as soon as possible. However, more severe bouts of pancreatitis can leave a dog in shock and with depression. These more severe cases can have fatal outcomes. In either circumstance, a timely response to any symptoms your dog is showing is crucial - giving them veterinary assistance improves the likelihood of a positive recovery.

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

If you're concerned about your pet in any manner, reach out to the team at Reedy Creek Vet on (07) 5593 8395 or book an online consultation here. Outside of clinic hours, please contact an emergency vet if you're concerned your dog is showing symptoms of pancreatitis.

Author:Reedy Creek Vet