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Acute Pancreatitis in Dogs

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Treatment In-depth

Treatment of acute pancreatitis must be individualized and based on the severity of your dog's condition and other factors that must be analyzed by your veterinarian. Treatments may include:

  • If your dog has mild acute pancreatitis, outpatient treatment including withholding of food and water for a short time to rest the pancreas, may be recommended. Your veterinarian may also recommend subcutaneous administration of fluids, drugs to control vomiting, and, in some cases, antibiotics to prevent or control bacterial infection. In this situation, regular follow-up visits to your veterinarian are important to insure that the condition does not progress and that your dog does not become dehydrated.

  • If pancreatitis is moderate or severe, hospitalization likely will be recommended and additional tests and treatments will be performed. Treatment consists primarily of intravenous fluid therapy, withholding of food and water to rest the pancreas, drugs to control vomiting and, in some cases, antibiotics to prevent or control infection. As the animal responds to treatment, water and a bland diet are gradually re-introduced.

  • Abdominal pain may be treated with cage confinement and analgesic medications such as meperidine or butorphanol.

  • Antibiotics may be used to control or prevent bacterial infection.

  • Surgery may be necessary for complications of pancreatitis such as pancreatic abscess, infected pancreatic cyst, peritonitis or biliary obstruction.

  • Abdominal lavage (flushing of the abdomen with sterile fluids) may be used to promote the removal of activated enzymes from the peritoneal space.

  • A body-wide clotting disorder ("disseminated intravascular coagulation") occasionally may complicate pancreatitis and require additional treatment including heparin administration.

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