What is pancreatitis in dogs?
Pancreatitis is defined as an “inflammation of the pancreas.” When this condition occurs in dogs, it may develop suddenly, since many of the warning signs are not entirely obvious in the beginning stages. Due to its serious nature, it’s important to take heed of symptoms your pup is experiencing and take your pet to the veterinarian for a checkup as soon as possible. At first, you may think your pet is just acting strange, but there may be something seriously wrong.
The pancreas is important because it aids in your dog’s digestion. When functioning normally, the pancreatic enzymes are activated when they reach the small intestine. Dog pancreatitis occurs when the digestive enzymes activate upon release, which causes inflammation and damage to not only the pancreas, but the surrounding tissue and organs.
Although pancreatitis can occur in dogs of any breed, sex, or age, the majority of dogs who suffer from this disease are older and overweight. Breeds at increased risk for chronic pancreatitis are Boxers, Collies, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Regardless, it doesn’t mean this type of dog will automatically be diagnosed with pancreatitis. It simply means pet owners will want to be extra cautious and diligent with preventative care.
Pancreatitis is painful, uncomfortable, and potentially fatal for your pet. Find out what symptoms to watch out for and what can be done to prevent this medical condition from happening to your dog.
Symptoms of Pancreatitis in Dogs
Not all symptoms of dog pancreatitis may make the condition obviously apparent. Pet owners may notice a difference in how their pets are acting, but may not immediately associate it with an inflamed pancreas. Your pet may seem more tired than usual, slower moving, or not as hungry. On the surface, this doesn’t cause rise for immediate alarm, but over time, these are symptoms which you should monitor.
For active dogs who have a habit of eating things they shouldn’t, some of the signs of pancreatitis in dogs might seem more “normal” than others. For example, if your dog has eaten something out of the trash can, it may not sit well with his stomach, and he may experience vomiting or diarrhea on a one-time basis. However, if these symptoms linger for more than a few days or seem more severe, it’s always a good idea to err on the side of safety and get your pet checked out.
Any sudden changes in your pet’s health is always a clue that something may not be right. If you think your dog may be suffering from pancreatitis, watch out for the following symptoms:
- Repeated vomiting
- Extreme weakness
- Loss of appetite
- Hunched back
Also, if your dog appears bloated or has a distended abdomen, this is a sure sign of a medical condition. A trip to the veterinary clinic can help secure peace of mind for owners worried about their pets. Your dog may experience any one of these symptoms at any time, but if they occur with more frequency, a veterinarian can properly diagnose your pet and prescribe a medication or other protocol to help your pup return to normal health.
When you take your pet in for a checkup, the veterinarian will perform a physical exam, run blood tests to measure pancreatic enzymes, and possibly conduct an ultrasound to rule out other diagnoses. Make sure your dog’s most updated medical history is on file.
Also, be prepared to answer questions about the recent health of your pet. You may be asked when the last time your dog ate or went to the bathroom. Try to track incidents that occur regarding your pet that are out of the ordinary. This will prove helpful down the road.
What Causes Dog Pancreatitis?
Is pancreatitis in dogs hereditary? Is it triggered by other health conditions? To understand the health of your pet and what causes pancreatitis in dogs, it’s best to follow a good diet and exercise habit, similar to what’s prescribed to humans. There isn’t one direct cause of canine pancreatitis, but more of a culmination of risk factors that can contribute to the problem.
For starters, a diet high in fat isn’t good for your pet. Whether your dog is used to getting human leftovers or table scraps or eats dog food high in fat content, pet owners should monitor their pet’s daily fat intake. Too much of it can cause trouble. Diet is a huge contributor to pancreatitis, even more so if your dog has eaten a big helping of fatty food at one time.
After all, think about how you feel after eating a big meal. You may experience bloating, feel sluggish, and not perform at your best. It’s not too much different for your dog whose digestive system is affected. Although it can seem at times our dogs serve as our own personal “garbage disposals,” be extra cautious of what you give them. Their stomachs are more delicate than what you might imagine and need food and treats good for them.
Your pet may experience adverse reactions to certain medications as well. Keep any human prescriptions well out of reach of your pet. Follow the directions for any medicine your pet has to take and administer the proper doses at the prescribed time. Be careful to watch for side effects, especially if it’s a new drug they’re taking.
Remember: pancreatitis in dogs can occur as a sudden attack due to any of the symptoms listed above or it could be a slowly developing condition. Even if your pet seems to be in perfect health, regular checkups are important for a veterinary professional to perform full exams and track your pet’s health for the future. Not all signs of injury or illness may be visible on a surface level. Consistent care is a must.
Different Types of Pancreatitis
Pancreatitis can vary from acute pancreatitis to severe pancreatitis. Symptoms of acute pancreatitis are more mild. One of the most common symptoms is a bloated or distended abdomen. This bloat can be pretty uncomfortable for your dog and cause a lot of abdominal pain, so they may struggle with finding a comfortable place to lay down.
If your dog is suffering from severe pancreatitis, they will experience more serious symptoms such as disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), which would result in blood in bruising, small hemorrhages that look like small red dots on the skin, and lethargy.
Does My Dog Have Chronic Pancreatitis?
If your dog’s pancreatitis remains for a long period of time or if it continues off and on over a stretch of time, the prognosis may be chronic pancreatitis. The common physical symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea may occur in spurts accompanied by weight loss or loss of appetite in your pet. Pay attention to changes in behavior, eating habits, and how your dog is acting.
Your pet may suddenly become a pickier eater or paw at food rather than eat it since the condition is painful for them. Dogs who suffer from chronic pancreatitis often respond well to a low-fat diet and pain medication to help lessen the symptoms. Again, record any changes in your dog’s health, so you can paint a full picture for the veterinarian when you take your pet in for care.
A Dog’s Diet During Pancreatitis
It’s normal for a veterinarian to recommend withholding all food and water from your pet until symptoms have subsided. This allows the pancreas to rest and prevents it from flaring up again during a recovery period.
Check in with your veterinary clinic regarding timeline of food administration. If you dog goes too long without nutrients, he or she could experience atrophy of digestive cells in the small intestine or blood poisoning. It can be a fine line with regards to your dog’s health. During this sensitive time, monitor your pet closely.
With pancreatitis, your dog is in pain and may simply not want to eat. In this case, a liquid diet may be the solution. Depending on your pet’s resistance, your pup may need to be fed through a tube, a scenario your veterinarian will recommend based on his health condition. It’s a crucial time because you want to make sure your dog is still being fed properly without further irritating the digestive system.
How to Prevent Pancreatitis in Dogs
If your pet has suffered pancreatitis once, you don’t want to make him go through it again, if at all possible. To prevent this from happening, control your pet’s diet to ensure there is not too much fat included. Also, plan for your pet to be more active. Although these things alone may not be able to fully prevent inflammation from happening, it sets a good baseline for your pet to thrive.
Even if you already take your pet out daily, schedule time for your dog to roam around. Go to a dog park and let him run loose. Take an extra long walk with him in the evening. Or, head to your nearest open area or backyard to play fetch. Time spent your pet is valuable, especially when it contributes to his health.
Review the ingredients of the food and treats you feed your pet. Items you may have previously thought were healthy for your dog may turn out to be high in fat. Not sure what should and shouldn’t be included in your pet’s diet? Ask the veterinarian to outline a nutrition plan for you. Not only will you help prevent pancreatitis, it’ll help your dog feel better overall.
Treating Pancreatitis in Dogs
The pain from pancreatitis can be challenging for dogs, so you’ll want to find a good solution to help them manage that discomfort. Many vets will prescribe pain relievers for pain management. You may also want to consider using natural supplements like Canna-Pet to help relieve the pain. Learn more about how hemp can help alleviate pain and inflammation in dogs.
Preventing Pancreatitis in Dogs
Pets can be a lot to maintain, especially when they fall ill. However, if you are cognizant of their health in advance, it can help prevent unwanted episodes in the future. Learn about the value of different natural products your pet can benefit from every day. Much like humans, healthy eating for your pet has to be a lifestyle, not an occurrence that happens just once in a while.
Start your pet off on the right foot by implementing a good nutrition plan, incorporating regular exercise, and giving them plenty of TLC. Regular checkups with your veterinarian can help detect any potential problems before they become more serious. Plus, the more you learn about your pet and what he needs for an optimal wellness, the better it will be for both of you.
While we can’t prepare for everything our pets may go through, we can arm ourselves with information and resources to help us care for them when they need us most. Never overlook what may appear to be minor symptoms because changes in health can happen quite rapidly. You know your pet’s behavior best, which will help them the most when they are feeling sick and need immediate care.
Full Pancreatitis in Dogs Infographic