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Acute Pancreatitis in Dogs

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Diagnosis In-depth

Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize acute pancreatitis and exclude other diseases. Tests may include:

  • Your veterinarian will take a complete medical history and perform a thorough physical examination. The abdominal will be carefully examined by palpation to test for abdominal pain and abdominal masses.

  • A complete blood count (CBC or hemogram) to evaluate for infection or inflammation, anemia, and low platelet count.

  • A serum biochemical profile to evaluate the general health of your dog and the possible effects of pancreatitis on other body systems.

  • Urinalysis may be recommended to evaluate your dog's kidney function and check for urinary tract infection.

  • Serum enzyme activities including amylase, lipase and trypsin-like immunoreactivity may be recommended to evaluate for pancreatitis. Some of these enzyme activities (amylase, lipase) are readily available but may be of limited value in the diagnosis of pancreatitis. Trypsin-like immunoreactivity is a test that likely will require shipping of a serum sample to a specialty laboratory.

  • Abdominal X-rays may be recommended to evaluate the region of the abdomen in which the pancreas is located ("right cranial quadrant") and to help eliminate other potential causes of your dog's symptoms.

  • X-rays taken after administration of a radiographic contrast agent ("GI series" or "barium series") may be recommended if intestinal obstruction is suspected.

  • Abdominal ultrasound examination may be recommended. This test may help identify abnormalities within the pancreas and other abdominal organs. Ultrasound examination may identify masses, cysts, or abscesses within the pancreas, and also can identify biliary obstruction caused by pancreatic swelling. This examination may require referral to a veterinary specialist.

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