Pancreatitis in Dogs

Pancreatitis in dogs generally is a painful, serious canine disease that can crop up all of a sudden. Although the exact cause of this condition remains unknown, it appears to be most common in middle-aged pooches, probably more in females as compared to males, which are overweight and usually follows a high-fat diet.

For some dogs, an attack can occur rapidly as a result of eating table scraps or very fatty foods. Veterinarians often report increased cases of acute pancreatitis around the holidays, when people unknowingly feed their dog special treats from the holiday meal, like turkey skin or sweets. However, not all cases are a result of poor diet, as genetics seems to also play a role in its development.

Understanding the Basics

· The pancreas. The pancreas is a large, elongated gland in the body that is found between the upper small intestine, kidneys, liver, spleen, and stomach. One of the pancreas’ major functions is the secretion of digestive enzymes as well as other essential substances necessary for digestion. Pancreatitis occurs when there is a swelling and inflammation of the organ. The condition is linked to the activation of certain digestive enzymes that lead to the injury to the pancreas itself, and sometimes, even to its adjacent organs in the abdomen.

· The symptoms. Clinical signs of pancreatitis normally include vomiting, oftentimes profuse; lack of appetite or refusal to eat; lack of thirst or refusal to drink; weight loss; depression; weakness; lethargy; abdominal pain, usually severe and sudden; diarrhea; dehydration; and/or tucked up belly. Once the disease has progressed, the following indicators can be observed: abnormal stool consistency and color; fever; swollen abdomen; heart arrhythmias; difficulty breathing; shock; systemic infection, inflammation of the other organs that surround the pancreas; and/or internal hemorrhage. Since pancreatitis in dogs can be very serious, it requires immediate vet attention.

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