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Acute Pancreatitis in Dogs

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Acute pancreatitis results from sudden inflammation of the pancreas and is characterized by activation of pancreatic enzymes that can cause the pancreas to begin digesting itself. The pancreas lies in the upper abdomen alongside the first portion of the small intestine (called the duodenum) and between the stomach, liver and right kidney. It produces bicarbonate to neutralize stomach acid and several enzymes that facilitate digestion.

The cause of acute pancreatitis is poorly understood. Predisposing causes include obesity, high fat diet, liver disease, infection and recent abdominal surgery. For unknown reasons, miniature schnauzers tend to be predisposed to pancreatitis.

Acute pancreatitis can range in severity from mild to life-threatening. The body's reaction (systemic reaction) to the inflammation often determines the severity and prognosis. Recurrent bouts of acute pancreatitis can lead to chronic pancreatitis and may contribute to other disorders such as diabetes mellitus or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.

What to Watch For

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Weakness

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