Acute Pancreatitis in Dogs

Overview of Canine Pancreatitis

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

Diagnosis of Pancreatitis in Dogs

Diagnostic tests are needed to identify acute pancreatitis and exclude other diseases.

These may include one or more of the following:

Treatment of Pancreatitis in Dogs

Severe pancreatitis can be life-threatening and requires intensive therapy. Treatment for acute pancreatitis may include the following:

Home Care of Pancreatitis in Dogs

At home, administer as directed any medications prescribed by your veterinarian and follow any special dietary recommendations.

Observe your dog’s general activity level, appetite and attitude.

Watch for loss of appetite, lethargy, or vomiting. Feed a low fat diet so as to maintain a normal body weight for your dog. Avoid exposure to table scraps, garbage, or other sources of high fat foods.

Schedule regular follow-up visits with your veterinarian to monitor your dog’s progress and promptly identify any recurrence of pancreatitis.

Preventive Care

Acute pancreatitis is difficult to prevent. Attempts to prevent pancreatitis may include:

Information In-Depth on Pancreatitis in Dogs

Other medical problems can lead to symptoms similar to those encountered in acute pancreatitis. It is important to exclude these conditions before establishing a definitive diagnosis.

Diagnosis In-depth of Pancreatitis in Dogs

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

Treatment In-depth of Pancreatitis in Dogs

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:

Follow-up Care for Dogs with Pancreatitis

Optimal treatment for your dog requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical. Follow-up for acute pancreatitis often includes: