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Pancreatitis In Dogs

Pancreatitis in Dog

Pancreatitis In Dogs

Pancreatitis in dogs is the inflammation of the pancreatic tissue. This pancreatic tissue produces digestive enzymes to help with digestion and hormones that affect blood sugar levels.

Pancreatitis in dogs is diagnosed when there are elevated pancreatic enzymes in a test sample. Because pancreatitis can also be present at normal levels, it cannot be diagnosed definitively without taking samples directly from the pancreas. Blood serum testing for pancreatic enzyme activity may rule out pancreatitis if the results are negative but does not confirm pancreatitis because other factors may elevate these enzymes above normal range. The only definitive diagnosis for pancreatitis is based on biopsy results obtained through an abdominal ultrasound or exploratory surgery performed by a veterinary surgeon experienced in surgical procedures of this type.

The cause of pancreatitis is unknown, but it can be associated with fatty meals or certain medications. We also see an increased incidence in overweight patients or those with Cushing’s disease.

Acute Pancreatitis

Acute pancreatitis symptoms can happen suddenly in your dog, they can include:

– loss of appetite

– lethargy and depression


-abdominal pain

These acute pancreatitis symptoms are often associated with abdominal pain. The pancreatic tissue is tender when palpated (felt) by your veterinarian during surgery or ultrasound examination. There may be fluid present in the abdomen that indicates pancreatic inflammation around the pancreas if it is very difficult to identify pancreatic tissue. The pancreatitis symptoms may seem worse after eating, so small frequent meals may help to prevent pancreatitis symptoms until pancreatitis is diagnosed and treated successfully. Persistent fever or other signs of infection like excessive licking at the anal region also indicate acute pancreatitis symptoms. If not treated properly, pancreatitis can progress to a pancreatic abscess or pancreatic fibrosis.

Chronic Pancreatitis

When pancreatitis causes pancreatic enzymes to be secreted into the pancreatic duct, your dog may also present with pancreatitis clinical signs that include:

– vomiting bile (yellow green fluid)

– diarrhea or constipation alternating with yellow water stools

– loss of appetite and lethargy, especially after eating

A pancreatic abscess appears as a lump in the abdomen during an ultrasound examination. A pancreatic fibrosis is diagnosed when small knots are identified on the surfaces of the spleen or liver during an ultrasound examination. Chronic pancreatitis often progresses to this later stage of pancreatitis if it isn’t treated.

Abdominal Pain

In pancreatitis dogs, abdominal pain may also be present without any pancreatic tissue inflammation or pancreatic enzymes in the blood serum. A pancreatitis dog with chronic pancreatitis may have a normal number of pancreatic enzyme cells active in their blood serum while still having chronic pancreatitis.

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in dogs

When pancreatitis causes pancreatic enzymes to circulate through the pancreatic duct into the small intestine, your dog may present with pancreatitis clinical signs such as:

– diarrhea alternating with constipation

– excessive gas and flatulence

– bloating in the abdomen

Another symptom of pancreatitis is known as steatorrhea which includes greasy and malodorous stools. Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) is associated with weight loss and muscle wasting because fat and protein cannot be properly digested without these essential pancreatic enzymes.  If a significant number of cells that produce insulin are destroyed, diabetes mellitus can result. EPI can also cause increased appetite because many dogs prefer food that tastes good to them. EPI predisposes your dog to both nutritional deficiencies and pancreatitis flareups when treated inappropriately if pancreatitis is not diagnosed correctly.

Blood work including a complete blood count (CBC) and biochemical profile: Blood work can be normal or demonstrate diseases of other organ systems either unrelated to or caused by the pancreatitis Urinalysis Urine culture A canine pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity (cPLI) test: The cPLI test is a highly accurate test in diagnosing pancreatitis, but the presence of an abnormal cPLI test does not definitely rule in pancreatitis as the sole cause of the clinical signs.

Potential Risk Factors and Triggers for Pancreatitis in Dogs


Diabetes mellitus Type 1 and 2

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in dogs

Cushing’s disease

Pre existing GI infections

Any dog can develop pancreatitis, but several small breed dogs are predisposed, including the Miniature Schnauzer, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, Sheltie, Toy Poodle and the Yorkshire Terrier.

Treatment For Pancreatitis in dogs

Most dogs with pancreatitis require hospitalization and veterinarian-supervised treatment. Treatment consists of intravenous fluid therapy to rehydrate the body, treat shock, correct electrolyte imbalances, and flush out toxins. In some cases, surgery may be required to remove cysts, abscesses, tumors, or dead tissue from the pancreas or to unblock a bile duct.

Treatment for pancreatitis in dogs includes giving pancreatic enzyme supplements orally or by injection into the muscles. Since pancreatic enzymes are produced in an inactive form, they must be activated in the small intestine before they can help digest food properly. This activation is performed by specific cells located in this region of your dog’s gastrointestinal tract.

Intravenous fluids or fluid therapy are administered to maintain hydration.

In severe cases or critically ill patients, a transfusion of a blood component called plasma may be recommended to help control pancreatic inflammation.

Pancreatitis Diet

A pancreatitis low fat diet restricts proteins, fats and carbohydrates from your dog’s food intake to decrease pancreatic secretions. A pancreatitis low fat diet reduces pancreatic secretions, it results in less pancreatitis flareups. Fatty foods may contribute pancreatitis flareups in pancreatitis dogs who have pancreatic secretions available to digest it.

Prognosis for Pancreatitis Dogs

For acute pancreatitis, prognosis is good if there isn’t organ damage present. Chronic pancreatitis has a guarded prognosis because pancreatic tissue damage and chronic pancreatitis symptoms like pancreatitis flares and pancreatitis attacks cannot be reversed.

You may also enjoy reading: 5 Best Ways Apple Cider Vinegar Can Help Your Dog.

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