Pancreatitis In Dogs
April 03, 2023 | 3 min read
Updated April 03, 2023
Published: April 3, 2023
Summary: In this blog, we learn all about pancreatitis in dogs. We’ll learn what pancreatitis in dogs is, what causes it, what the symptoms of pancreatitis are, and how to comfort a dog with pancreatitis…
What Is Pancreatitis In Dogs?
Pancreatitis is when the pancreas of a dog becomes inflamed and can range from mild to severe.
The pancreas sits very close to the stomach and helps the body process food by releasing enzymes that aid digestion. These enzymes don’t (and shouldn’t) become active until they’ve reached the intestines. However, when the pancreas becomes inflamed, these enzymes become active in, or on immediate release, from the pancreas which can cause incredible pain and discomfort for a dog.
The condition requires immediate attention from a vet, and you shouldn’t simply attempt to relieve the pain at home with a holistic remedy – a delay in getting your dog medical attention might be fatal.
The Symptoms Of Pancreatitis In Dogs
The symptoms of pancreatitis aren’t always obvious. But, the signs need to be known by pet parents as severe pancreatitis can be life-threatening for our doggos.
The following signs and symptoms, when presented individually and infrequently, don’t tend to be an immediate cause for alarm. However, if any of the symptoms present together and happen multiple times, you need to get your dog to their vet as a matter of urgency:
- Lack of appetite
- Abdomen pain/bloating* (they may adopt a prayer-like position/“downward dog” to try and relieve their tummy ache)
- Repeated vomiting (several times in a few hours or frequently over a few days)
- A hunched back
PetLab Co. Pro Tip: In the case of *bloating in dogs, it is essential you get your dog to a vet as a matter of emergency. Bloating occurs when air has become trapped in your dog’s stomach, and isn’t able to be relieved via farting or burping. If there’s enough air trapped, the stomach can end up twisting which can kill a dog as the stomach expansion can cause internal bleeding, stomach rupture, and put the body into shock - notably, this is more of a risk in dogs with deep chests. Time is critical. Signs of bloating include anxious, agitated behavior (attempting to be sick or pacing), difficulty breathing, dribbling, and/or a distended (large) stomach.
Remember, you know your dog best. If you have any inkling that your dog may be becoming unwell with pancreatitis, contact your vet pronto.
The Causes Of Pancreatitis In Dogs
There can be several underlying causes of pancreatitis in dogs, the most common being a high-fat diet. If your dog is eating fatty foods regularly (like bacon, ribs, fried chicken, cheese, butter, hot dogs, other high-fat human foods and snacks, and/or high-fat dog treats), they need a diet change stat if you want to avoid them developing a painful bout of pancreatitis and other health conditions…
Other causes of pancreatitis in dogs include:
- Severe blunt trauma
- Recent surgery
- Pica or general overeating
- Some prescribed medications
Pancreatitis can affect any breed of dog, but it is most commonly seen in smaller toy breeds like Miniature Schnauzers and Yorkshire Terriers.
Dog Pancreatitis Recovery Time
After they receive treatment from a vet, most dogs will make a full recovery from mild pancreatitis in 2-3 days. However, if the pancreatitis is severe it may take longer and require a veterinarian hospital stay of up to a week.
Your vet may need to conduct blood tests, X-Rays, and physical examinations. Dependent on the severity of pancreatitis, your dog may simply need rest, pain relief, and anti-sickness medicine or they may need careful feeding (in some cases via a stomach tube), proper 24-hour nursing care, and/or an IV drip to restore the body with essential fluids.
Some dogs may experience bouts of pancreatitis throughout their lifetime too (this is called chronic pancreatitis) and on the rare occasion, pancreatitis may cause the onset of diabetes.
How To Comfort A Dog With Pancreatitis
If a dog has had pancreatitis, it’s more likely they will develop it again and there are ways you can help prevent that from happening and comfort their sensitive pancreas.
Lower The Fat In Their Diet
Want to comfort your dog’s pancreas? Lower the fat in their diet. Stop feeding them human foods, don’t treat them with anything high in fat (try chopped-up bits of carrot or cucumber instead!) and feed them smaller, but regular low-fat meals.
Maintain A Good Weight
Get on top of their weight, pronto. If your dog is overweight, this is a sure-fire way to instil other health conditions that can cause your dog pain and discomfort, as well as encourage another bout of pancreatitis. For some weight loss tips and tricks, consult with your vet on dietary advice and what your dog’s ideal weight should be.
Insure Your Dog
Conditions like pancreatitis can be costly. As soon as you pick up your dog from the rescue or your puppy from the breeder, you should insure them. This way you can ensure they’re covered and cared for appropriately, properly and their comfort can be made a priority without financial strain or worry.
"Pancreatitis In Dogs" Jun. 2018 PDSA https://www.pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/pet-health-hub/conditions/pancreatitis-in-dogs
"Pancreatitis In Dogs - Symptoms, Causes & Treatment" Feb 22. 2021, American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/pancreatitis-in-dogs/