Pancreatitis in dogs: how can you help?

Pancreatitis in dogs is a painful condition caused by inflammation of the pancreas; an organ that sits near the stomach. The pancreas produces hormones including insulin to help control blood sugar and digestive enzymes that help break down starch and fat from the diet. Its key role in supporting the digestive system means that dogs can easily become ill when they are suffering from pancreatitis.

Symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs

Symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs include:

  • Lethargy/depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain/tenderness

If your dog shows any of these symptoms for more than 24hrs, or they keep coming back, you should take them to the vet. Your vet might be able to diagnose based on the symptoms alone but may need to perform blood tests or an ultrasound to rule out other causes.

The severity of pancreatitis in dogs can range from mild to severe, but the condition is relatively common, with some breeds being more prone than others:

Miniature Schnauzers, Yorkshire Terriers, Cocker Spaniels and Miniature Poodles are all more susceptible to pancreatitis.

What causes pancreatitis in dogs?

There are many possible causes of pancreatitis in dogs, including endocrine diseases (such as underactive thyroid) medications, acid reflux, obesity and a high-fat diet. Identifying the specific cause can often be difficult, but once the condition is triggered, the pancreas releases digestive enzymes into its own tissue, causing pain and inflammation.

The condition will often be chronic or long term; once a dog has suffered from a bout of pancreatitis, they are much more prone to it in the future. The best defence against a repeat occurrence is to look out for symptoms and control the factors that you can to reduce risk.



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