Pancreatitis in Dogs
Definition of Pancreatitis
Pancreatitis refers to inflammation and swelling of the pancreas, which is a large gland in the upper abdomen that is essential to digestion. Pancreatitis is common in dogs, although its causes aren’t fully known. It often affects dogs fed high-fat diets and those with Cushing’s disease or diabetes mellitus. Other things that can contribute to pancreatitis are high circulating levels of calcium, obesity, blunt trauma to the belly, dietary indiscretion and certain medications, including steroids. Genetics probably play a key role. Why a dog develops pancreatitis usually is never determined. However, what happens once a dog has the disorder is fairly well-understood. Something causes the pancreas to release a flood of digestive enzymes prematurely, leading to widespread inflammation and damage to the pancreas and surrounding tissues. Affected dogs feel lousy. They lose weight, become depressed, weak and lethargic and develop intense abdominal pain. Severe cases can be fatal in a matter of hours.
Pancreatitis can be mild or severe. The causes of spontaneous pancreatitis in dogs are not well understood. However, pancreatitis is more common in domestic dogs that are fed high-fat diets. It also can be caused by ingestion of a single large fatty meal. Other suggested contributing factors include hypercalcemia, obesity, blunt trauma to the abdomen, dietary indiscretion and the intake of certain medications. Corticosteroids have been implicated as causing pancreatitis in some dogs, as well
The pancreas is responsible for producing and secreting a number of enzymes that are essential to the digestion of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Other substances produced by the pancreas help to neutralize the acidic environment of the upper gastrointestinal tract. The pancreas is also responsible for making and releasing insulin into the blood stream, which facilitates the normal cellular uptake of glucose. When the pancreas becomes inflamed, it releases digestive enzymes prematurely, triggering a cascade
Many dogs that develop pancreatitis are overweight, are fed a high fat diet, recently ate a single especially fatty meal or are being given a medication that has been linked to pancreatitis. The attending veterinarian will take the dog’s history, conduct a thorough physical examination and assess the dog’s presenting symptoms. All of these findings will be taken into consideration when diagnosing pancreatitis. Often, these factors will lead to a presumptive diagnosis of pancreatitis, which
Pancreatitis is a serious and painful disease of domestic dogs. Owners play an important role in their dog’s successful recovery, as special diets and feeding protocols must be followed at home after the dog’s hospital stay. The treatment choices for dogs with pancreatitis will vary depending upon whether the condition is chronic or acute. The guiding therapeutic goals are to treat any identifiable underlying causes of the condition, relieve the dog’s pain, provide sound dietary