Having a dog that isn’t feeling well is never fun. It’s upsetting for the dog, and it’s stressful for pet parents. Pancreatitis is an especially worrisome disease of the pancreas that usually affects older dogs. There are two classes of pancreatitis in dogs: chronic pancreatitis and acute pancreatitis. Each variation has its own individualized course of treatment.
For pet parents that want to understand more, we’ve created this comprehensive guide to what causes pancreatitis, the clinical signs that pancreatic conditions manifest, and courses of treatment.
What Function Does the Pancreas Serve?
The pancreas of a dog is located in its upper abdominal wall. It is a V-shaped organ near the duodenum. The pancreas contains two ducts and works with the bile duct of the liver. It is an essential part of the canine digestive system, helping dogs to perform at optimum capacity.
The pancreas has both an endocrine function and an exocrine function. The exocrine function of the pancreas is for digestion and allows digestive enzymes into the small intestine. The pancreas assists in breaking down carbs, low fat foods, high fat foods, and other materials that the body processes for energy and function.
Endocrine function within the pancreas is for secreting hormones that are important to biological function. This function can affect mood as well as the overall health of canines. One role endocrine function is responsible for is handling glucose in the body.
What Exactly is Pancreatitis in Dogs?
Pancreatitis in dogs occurs when digestive enzymes are activated within the pancreas before they get to the lower intestine. This causes inflammation of the pancreas. Mild cases can produce clinical signs of pancreatitis such as irritability, diarrhea, and vomiting, leading to acute pancreatitis.
Chronic pancreatitis results from severe cases, whose clinical signs may include abdominal pain and acute inflammation of the pancreas. In chronic cases, those digestive enzymes may cause the dog to become very sick, even leading to septic shock. This is a severe situation that requires immediate veterinary care. Dogs with clinical signs such as abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and severe cases of pancreatic inflammation will need more care and treatment.
Are Certain Dogs Prone To Pancreatitis?
Any dog of any age could wind up with a pancreatitis diagnosis after a routine blood test. However, there are some breeds that are more prone to this condition.
Breeds like spaniels, boxers, collies, mini schnauzers, and schnauzers are more prone to developing acute pancreatitis. Also, dogs that are older are more likely to acquire pancreatic-related conditions than puppies.
What Causes Pancreatitis In Dogs?
It is not always easy to diagnose the clinical cause of pancreatitis. However, there are risk factors that pancreatitis may result from more easily. A significant risk factor that can be a cause of pancreatitis is obesity. This is due to the condition of hyperlipidemia that is common in obese dogs. Dogs that are of the breeds more likely to get pancreatitis should be monitored closely, especially if they are obese.
Diabetes and Acute Pancreatitis
Dogs that have diabetes are at more severe risk for developing pancreatitis. Unstable fluctuations in blood sugar levels may exacerbate latent pancreatitis in dogs.
Your Dog’s Diet and Pancreatitis
Diet is another leading cause of associated pancreatic conditions in dogs. Giving your dog higher quality food, putting them on a low fat diet, and taking them out for exercise more often can cut that risk factor enormously. Even making sure they get more fluid in their diet can help get their weight under control.
Losing body fat can make a big difference in the pancreatic health of your dog. Losing weight can help lower the risk of obesity-related diseases that manifest in the blood, like diabetes. The blood sugar abnormality caused by diabetes can lead to all sorts of abdominal abnormalities, such as vomiting, dehydration, and blood disease, so it’s best to track the signs of the condition before it gets severe.
Switching your dog’s high fat diet over to a low fat diet is a perfect place to start.