Pancreatitis in Dogs

By on October 28, 2011

Pancreatitis is a condition that occurs in dogs when the pancreas becomes inflamed. The pancreas is an organ that is V-shaped. It is located behind the stomach and small intestine and serves two primary functions. The first is that is produces insulin, aiding in the metabolism of sugar in the dog’s body. The second function is that it produces enzymes that are essential for digestion.

When a dog obtains pancreatitis, it is often attributed to one of several common causes. Many times it is caused by medications the dog has taken, or from a metabolic disorder the dog has, such as hyperlipidemia. Certain hormonal diseases may also cause a dog to get pancreatitis.

One common cause of this illness occurs from a dog being overweight. When a dog eats foods high in fat and grease, he is at more risk to get this illness. Certain breeds of dogs, including Yorkshire Terriers and Schnauzers, are also genetically more prone to pancreatitis.

In pancreatitis, the enzymes from the pancreas leak out onto the tissue surrounding it. This causes this organ to be inflamed and can cause pain and discomfort for the dog.

A dog suffering from this often displays several common symptoms. These include the dog experiencing pain in his abdomen, the dog appearing depressed, and the dog having a reduced appetite. Other symptoms also can include fever, diarrhea and vomiting. Most of the time, a pet owner cannot find out that his dog has this unless he brings his dog to the veterinarian.

Pancreatitis in Dogs: Diagnosis

A vet can diagnose pancreatitis by running several tests. He first inspects the dog’s medical history and must perform a physical examination of the dog. After that, a vet will perform a urinalysis, complete blood count test and a chemistry panel. Many times, if the diagnosis is still inconclusive, the doctor might perform a biopsy, x-ray or ultrasound.

Dogs, suffering from pancreatitis, often have higher white blood cell counts, than other dogs. They also have certain enzyme levels much higher than dogs without pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis in Dogs: Treatment

After a dog is diagnosed with pancreatitis, there are several ways it is treated. Most of the time, a dog is placed on a low-fat diet and must stop taking any medications that may have caused it.

A vet might also prescribe pain reliever for the dog. The goals of treating the dog for this are to correct the dehydration it causes, to ease the dog’s pain and to provide nutrition to the dog. In extreme cases, a vet might give fluids to the dog by using the subcutaneous or intravenous methods.

Although pancreatitis is a serious illness many dogs suffer from, it is also very hard for a vet to determine an accurate prognosis. If a dog suffers from a mild case, monitoring his diet may be the only treatment for the illness, and the dog might live a normal life. If a dog has an extreme case, pancreatitis might lead to diabetes or another serious disease. The sooner this is detected, the better the prognosis will be for the dog.

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