Pancreatitis in Dogs: Symptoms and Diagnosis

What is It?

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas.

What Causes It?

The pancreas is an organ tasked with enzyme production. The enzymes the pancreas produces are in an inactive state and only become active once they enter the small intestine. In Pancreatitis these enzymes become active inside the pancreas. These enzymes then begin to breakdown the pancreas itself.

There are conditions that can increase your dog’s risk factor including high-fat diets, obesity, hypothyroidism, and diabetes. Overall, pancreatitis seemingly appears spontaneously.

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What Are The Symptoms?

  • Persistent vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Hunched back
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite

Is it Life Threatening?

Yes, pancreatitis can be fatal.

Often the symptoms make owners think the condition is something simpler and are therefore ignored. Early detection of this condition is critical.

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How is It Diagnosed?

A vet will perform a full physical exam and a medical history questionnaire. The symptoms of pancreatitis are not exclusive to this condition additionally it is difficult to come to this diagnosis.

Other issues will need to be ruled out by imaging with ultrasound and radiographs. Bloodwork will measure pancreatic enzymes. A fine needle aspiration of the pancreas can help further examine the issue for diagnosis.

What Are The Treatments?

Pain management and “resting” the pancreas by withholding food will be the first and most vital treatments. Dogs who are vomiting can remain without food until the vomiting subsides. Dehydration is a serious concert with pancreatitis, your dog may be given IV fluids to help combat this.

Other treatments may include inti-inflammatory, antibiotics to combat bacterial infections, and anti-nausea medicines. Vets recommend switching dogs with pancreatitis to low-fat diets with absolutely no table scraps.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pup’s condition, please make an appointment with your veterinarian. Or, consult a virtual vet here.