Pancreatitis In Dogs

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When it comes to your dog’s health, taking the approach of “better safe than sorry” is almost always better than hoping that whatever your dog is suffering from will take care of itself with time.

Indeed, many times your dog will show some signs of sickness and it’ll be something very minor that will go away by itself.

However, other times your dog will show some signs of sickness, and if you don’t act fast enough to get them the professional care they need, it might be too late before you know it.

One of those instances is when your dog suffers from pancreatitis.

What Is Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis in dogs occurs when their pancreas becomes inflamed.

The pancreas of a dog is extremely important in how good their digestive system is at properly digesting food, since all the enzymes that are required to digest food (including insulin) are produced by the pancreas itself.

So, when dogs develop pancreatitis and their pancreas becomes inflammated, these enzymes can flow into parts of the dog’s body which they are not meant to be present in (such as your dog’s abdomen, liver and kidney), which will eventually lead to the gradual degeneration of your dog’s body.

Dogs that suffer from pancreatitis and are properly treated during the early stages of the illness have the highest chances of survival, while dogs which are administered to treatment during the later stages have the weakest chances of full recovery, that is if they manage to recover and stay alive in the first place.

What Causes Pancreatitis In Dogs?

There is no exact one-size-fits-all answer to what exactly causes pancreatitis in dogs, but here are some of the most common reasons dogs develop pancreatitis:

  • Specific Breeds: Some dog breeds are at a higher risk of developing pancreatitis than other dog breeds. For example, Miniature Schnauzers, Miniature Poodles and Cocker Spaniel are at a higher risk of developing pancreatitis than other dogs, simply by nature.
  • Age: Senior dogs are more likely to develop pancreatitis than younger, healthier dogs.
  • Weight: Overweight and obese dogs are most likely to develop pancreatitis. This is most often found in dogs which are fed diets containing absurd amounts of fat, much more than their bodies can handle.
  • Gender: It has been found that female dogs are more likely to develop pancreatitis than male dogs.
  • Hyperlipidemia: Dogs which have abnormally high levels of fat in their blood stream
  • Hypercalcemia: Dogs which have abnormally high levels of calcium in their blood stream
  • Diabetes: Dogs suffering from diabetes are more likely to develop pancreatitis than dogs which do not have diabetes
  • Side Effects: Some medications given to dogs, which are often given without properly following the required dosage instructions, might lead to these dogs developing pancreatitis.
  • Injuries: Another common reason dogs develop pancreatitis is body injuries, especially to the abdomen area
  • Thyroid Issues: Hypothyroidism is also a common cause of pancreatitis

Symptoms Of Mild Pancreatitis In Dogs

The following are some of the most common symptoms of mild pancreatitis in dogs:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach aches
  • High body temperature
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Loss of weight, all the way up to anorexia
  • Depression and changes in behavior
  • Appearance of bloat

If you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms in your dog, you should take them to immediate veterinary care.

If you notice that any of these symptoms are present in your dog for more than 24 hours, the chances that your dog is suffering from pancreatitis are higher.

You should also keep track of these symptoms and monitor if they come and go frequently in your dog, as this might also be another sign that your dog is suffering from pancreatitis.

Symptoms Of Severe Pancreatitis In Dogs

The following are some of the most common symptoms of severe pancreatitis in dogs, in which case your dog’s life is at a huge risk if they are not given professional care as soon as possible:

  • Hemorrhages: Your dog might experience mupltiple hemorrhages taking place at the same time, which may lead to death
  • Irregular Heartbeats: Heart arrhythmia is also another symptom that your dog is suffering from a more severe case of pancreatitis
  • Breathing Difficulties: If you notice your dog is struggling to catch a breath, this should also raise a red flag
  • Dehydration
  • Undigested Food In Stool: If you can clearly notice that your dog is passing undigested food in their stool, then this is also a sign that they are suffering from severe pancreatitis

Treatment Of Pancreatitis In Dogs

For proper treatment of pancreatitis in dogs, you should get your dog to your veterinarian or the nearest pet emergency center so they can run the required tests (such as physical examinations, blood tests, electrolyte tests, ultrasounds and urine tests) needed to determine if your dog is suffering from pancreatitis or not and the severity of it, and the necessary course of treatment.

If your dog is only suffering from minor pancreatitis and doesn’t need to stay under professional care and monitoring, you will most probably be given instructions to refrain from feeding or giving water to your dog orally, which will give your dog’s pancreas the rest it needs, as well as instructions on any medications you should give your dog and the dosages they should take.

However, if your dog’s pancreatitis situation is more serious than you would have hoped, they will be put under professional surveillance and be given proper medication, care and treatment.

In the most extreme and complex of cases, the dog suffering from pancreatitis might have to go through surgery to hold on to their life.

If there was ever one thing you should NOT do if your dog is suffering from pancreatitis, it’s to try to cure them yourself. Chances are you will do more harm than good, and will eventually lose your dog because time was not on your side and they didn’t receive professional treatment before it was too late.

How To Prevent Pancreatitis In Dogs

Since neither you nor your dog ever want to go through the process of having to deal with them suffering from pancreatitis, the following are some of the most common best practices you could perform to make sure pancreatitis stays as far away from your beloved canine as much as possible.

  • Low Fat Diet: Since the most common culprit when it comes to pancreatitis in dogs is feeding dogs higher levels of fat than their bodies can properly process and handle, which puts a tremendous load on their pancreas and leads to its inflamation, make sure you provide your dog a healthy diet which contains only necessary levels of fat. Ideally, you would consult with your veterinarian about this so they can determine exactly what kind of diet is best suited for your dog.
  • Holiday Damage Control: During the holidays, veterinarians will often tell you that they witness a surge of influx of dogs suffering from pancreatitis. Why? Because during the holidays, dog owners like to feed their dogs some of that food their having, which just happens to be extremely high in fat content. So, make sure that you keep your dog on a regular and consistent healthy diet and resist the temptation of giving them whatever you’re having, even during the holidays season.
  • Healthy Lifestyle: Since obesity is one of the most common reasons which lead to pancreatitis in dogs, you must ensure that your dog leads a healthy, active lifestyle and does not get overweight. Besides, a physically active dog is also a dog which is much less likely to exhibit behavioral problems, such as barking, digging and whining, so it’s a win-win situation.
  • Proper Meal Feeding: Instead of falling victim to the mistake many dog owners do, which is feed their dogs only 1-2 very large meals a day, take the route of feeding your dog smaller meals evenly spaced out during the day. This way, you will ensure that no unnecessary stress is put on your dog’s pancreas and that the food your dog consumes is properly digested.
  • Proper Administering Of Medication: Before you give your dog any sort of medication for whatever reason, you should ask your veterinarian about it first to ensure that it’s safe for you to give your dog and it won’t lead to pancreatitis.

If your dog previously suffered from pancreatitis and was successfully treated, there’s a very big chance that they might suffer from it again in the near future. This is where the work of whoever treated your dog comes in, where they should give you an extensive list of instructions that informs you all about how you have to live with your dog from now on.

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