Causes and Prevention of Pancreatitis in Dogs

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015

Causes of Canine Pancreatitis

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 as in some people. However, this association has not been scientifically verified. In most cases, the actual cause of canine pancreatitis is never identified.

Regardless of the inciting insult, the physiological course of pancreatitis is fairly well understood. Something causes premature activation and release of pancreatic digestive enzymes, which in turn causes local and system-wide tissue damage and an accelerated inflammatory response. The damage to the pancreas is caused by a process called auto-digestion. Essentially, the cascade of pancreatic enzymes digests the pancreas and surrounding tissues.

Preventing Pancreatitis

The risk of pancreatitis may be reduced by sound lifestyle and dietary management. Avoidance of especially fatty foods and treats may help prevent acute cases of pancreatitis in dogs that suffer recurrent bouts of the disorder. A diet low in fat and high in fiber is probably best. Obese dogs should be put on a weight-loss program.

Special Notes

If acute pancreatitis is diagnosed, the affected dog normally will be hospitalized immediately. Fortunately, pancreatitis in dogs usually can be successfully treated with appropriate medical attention. Owners play a vital role in their dog’s recovery, because special diets and feeding protocols must be followed.

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