PetMeds® Pancreatitis in Dogs and Cats

The risk of developing pancreatitis is increased in obese pets and those that are fed extra fatty treats Despite being a very small organ, inflammation of the pancreas can often cause big problems in affected dogs and cats. The pancreas, which lives in the abdominal cavity of dogs and cats, has a very important role in producing hormones such as insulin, as well as enzymes necessary for proper digestion of nutrients whenthe pet eats. It is when these enzymes become active inside the pancreas itself that inflammation and clinical disease often can occur.

If chronic inflammation occurs (known as pancreatitis) diabetes mellitus may develop as well as a disease called pancreatic exocrine insufficiency.  Symptoms of acute pancreatitis can range from:

–         Mild digestive upset
–         Severe abdominal pain
–         Vomiting
–         Lethargy
–         Loss of appetite
–         Systemic bacterial infections
–         Circulatory shock

While in most cases we don’t often known what causes pancreatitis in dogs and cats, risk factors include obesity, as well as those pets with a history of getting extra fatty treats from the table, or who have gotten into the trash.

Sometimes hormonal disorders such as hypothyroidism, as well as certain drugs and medications can also cause pancreatitis.  Diagnosis can be difficult and is only possible with full veterinary exam and workup to include blood work, urine analysis, and sometimes X-rays and/or ultrasound.  The gold standard diagnosis now is a blood test called a pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity, known as a PLI test.

This test is now available directly in the veterinary office. Treatment consists of fasting pets for up to a few days, administering IV fluids and injectable antibiotics, as well as other medications to control pain and/or nausea and vomiting. After a few days of hospitalization, bland diets can be introduced in increasing increments.

Those pets with some of the above risk factors may be placed on permanent low fat bland diets to prevent recurrence. Pet owners can help prevent this disorder by limiting excessive treats and/or table scraps from the table, as well as keeping pets at optimal weights by not overfeeding and giving their pets plenty of exercise.

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  1. That is why it is very important to have a monthly check up so we can monitor their health. Also, we should choose the right vet for our beloved dogs or cats.

  2. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMay 22, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Choosing the right vet is indeed important.

  3. My dog seems to have a flare up so regularly it is very hard to keep her on a dry food. i have to keep giving her brown rice and chicken but I know she is missing vitamins and minerals. Is there a food out there that would be good for pancreatitis?

  4. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMarch 31, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    I like natural brand foods such as halo or natures variety from 1800petmeds. Just stay away from fatty table scraps, as well as cheaper grain based commercial dog foods.

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  6. I am having difficulty finding low fat dry food. My dog has pancreatitis. He is eatng chicken breast and mixed vegies. He’s not craxy for the vegies. He won’t eat the canned low fat food; and, I can’t find low fat dry food. Does anyone have any suggestions? Would apprediate the help. gep

  7. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMay 31, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    I would just suggest a good qualiity dry food such as wysong or pet guard.

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