Pancreatitis - Kenilworth Vet

As the silly season approaches we will be stocking up on special food and treats. It is a time for over indulgence for us all, including your pet! But beware! There is a condition called Pancreatitis that can be real danger to your pet’s health.

What is the pancreas?

The pancreas is a small organ that sits near the stomach.
It is part of the endocrine system (produces enzymes) and the digestive system. The pancreas produces enzymes that help to break down food.  It is also responsible for the production of insulin.

What is pancreatitis?

If the pancreas becomes inflamed (swollen and sore), the enzymes it produces no longer just flow into the digestive system but are forced out of the pancreas and into the abdomen. Once in the abdomen these pancreatic enzymes continue to digest the fat and proteins they come into contact with, only this time it is those found in other organs as well as in the pancreas itself. So basically the body starts to digest itself!

As the condition progresses the kidneys and liver become involved. The abdomen will become inflamed and can become infected. The pancreas can also bleed which can lead to shock and ultimate death. As you can imagine this can be an extremely painful condition.

What causes Pancreatitis?


There are several possible causes of pancreatitis:


·        Certain breeds seem more prone to this e.g.:

     Miniature Schnauzers, Poodles, Cocker Spaniels

·        Nutrition - high levels of fat in the blood eating a high fat meal particularly when pets are given table scraps that are not used to eating.

·        Obesity

·        Overweight, older dogs seem to be more prone to bouts of pancreatitis

·        Trauma

·        Drugs and toxins


‘Even without the presence of a high fat diet, an animal can have an occurrence of pancreatic inflammation after eating a large amount of fatty foods. This tends to occur around the holidays, when dogs are given table scraps that are not normally a part of their diets.’(1)


Inflammation of the pancreas (or pancreatitis) often progresses rapidly in dogs, but can often be treated without any permanent damage to the organ. However, if pancreatitis goes long-term without treatment, severe organ, and even brain damage can occur.(2)
Pancreatitis can develop very quickly and there are many different symptoms:

·        vomiting
·        diarrhoea
·        loss of appetite
·        painful abdomen
·        panting
·        fatigue
·        fever


Treatment will depend on how severe the case of pancreatitis is, as you can see by the long list of symptoms it is not easy always easy to diagnose pancreatitis. Your vet will need to run blood tests and may want to do an ultrasound scan.

There is no magic cure for this condition and the body has to heal itself. The main focus in treating pancreatitis is to give support to the kidneys and liver and to keep your pet comfortable and pain free.

Your pet will need to be hospitalised and given intravenous fluids in order to support the organs and rest the pancreas.  Medications to prevent nausea and vomiting, antibiotics and painkillers may need to be administered intravenously.

When your pet starts to recover and begins to eat again you will need to feed a special low fat diet (prescription diet) for some time if not for the rest of your pets life particularly if the case was severe or recurring.

Dogs usually recover from mild cases, but if it's severe, it can sometimes lead to death. If your dog is overweight or has diabetes or epilepsy, he may have a harder time getting over an attack. (3)
So the moral to this story is dont overdo the treats this festive season. Vets see more cases of pancreatitis during the holiday season! Your pet does not need to eat human food despite what they may tell you with those eyes!
Fatty foods are BAD! Keep your rubbish bins secure!