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.