Pancreatitis in dogs can occur in two forms: acute and chronic. If it manifests in acute bouts, the condition lasts for little time and no permanent damage is done. Chronic pancreatitis in dogs happens as a result of a fat diet and some specific medications and the situation is worse. The most serious form of canine pancreatitis is acute necrotizing pancreatitis. It happens very fast and dissolves the pancreas and all the organs that surround it. Death may occur if it is not taken care of.
Known causes of canine pancreatitis include obesity, elevated levels of lipids in the blood, ingestion of a very fatty meal decreased blood flow to the pancreas, medications such as steroids, pancreatic duct obstruction, toxins, chronic kidney disease, and infectious agents. Pancreatitis in dogs may also occur without a known cause.
Many times, bouts of pancreatitis occur during holidays, like Christmas and Thanksgiving, when celebrations are accompanied by a lot of fatty foods. Dogs eating from their owner's table are at risk to develop pancreatitis.
The clinical signs of dog pancreatitis vary but may include the following:
- upper abdominal pain
- severe weakness or collapse
Dogs show signs of abdominal pain by acting restless, panting, crying or wincing when picked up, standing with an arched back, or lying with the front end down and the rear end elevated.
The goal of treatment is to rest the pancreas, provide supportive care, and control complications. Treatment usually begins by withholding food, water, and oral medications for at least 24 hours in order to stop the stimulation of the pancreas to produce digestive enzymes. Food intake is started again after a few days and is usually a meal of a bland, easily digestible, low-fat food. The quantity and size of meals are gradually increased depending on your dog's response.
If the pancreatitis is caused by a medication, the medication should be stopped. If it is caused by a toxin, infection, or other condition, appropriate therapy of the underlying condition should be started.
The second major component of treatment is fluid therapy since water intake has been restricted. Fluids are given either subcutaneously or intravenously to treat dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
Dogs who are experiencing severe pain can be treated with pain relievers. Antibiotics are often administered to protect against infection.
Aside from medication and treatment provided by a veterinarian, a dog with canine pancreatitis will need a good diet to help them fight the disease more efficiently.
Dogs who have repeated bouts of pancreatitis may need to be fed low-fat diets to prevent recurrence. In addition to low-fat diets, high carb diets with added nutritional supplements may be the change needed to prevent recurrence.