It all started one evening when dog daddy Brad came in from our last potty break. Waking up the Lady I rescued to let her know that I’d just lost my dinner, because she would know what to do, if anything. The first thing she does when suspecting I have an upset tummy is give me a small amount of over-the-counter Pepcid, as recommended by our vet.
Unfortunately, my upset stomach didn’t completely go away. Over the next few days I threw up a few more times, the Lady treating me each time with Pepcid, since I did show improvement. She also stopped my APOQUEL as a precaution because she gives it to me in the evenings, and that’s when my upset stomach symptoms started. But one morning dog daddy Brad sounded the alarm again because I kept eating grass and wouldn’t come in.
The Lady knew then that I needed to go to the vet right away, as she suspected my pancreatitis flared up again. It’s important to treat pancreatitis in dogs early, otherwise it can become very serious, even resulting in hospitalization.
What is pancreatitis in dogs?
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, part of the digestive system, which is important to digesting your food. The pancreas produces enzymes that digest food and produces insulin. When something happens to inflame the pancreas, the flow of enzymes into the digestive tract can become disrupted, forcing the enzymes out of the pancreas and into the abdominal area.
This causes the digestive enzymes to look in other organs for fat and proteins to break down, digesting the body itself. If the liver and kidney, which are close to the pancreas, become inflamed, it can possibly infect the abdomen. Worse case scenario, if bleeding occurs in the pancreas, shock and even death will occur.
Pancreatitis progresses quickly in dogs, but is easily treated if caught early. If not, severe organ or brain damage can occur.
Pancreatitis in Dogs — Symptoms
There are many symptoms for pancreatitis in dogs, including:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Fatigue and sluggishness
- Mild to severe abdominal pain
- Increased heart rate
- Difficulty breathing
My symptoms always begin with vomiting and during the vet exam I let them know that my abdomen is tender.
Pancreatitis in Dogs — Causes
Among the causes of pancreatitis in dogs are nutritional factors, like high levels of fat or calcium in the blood, trauma to the pancreas and some drugs or toxins. Obesity can also be a cause with high fat, low carbohydrate diet.
The first thing my vet does, based on my history of pancreatitis and my symptoms, is to do a blood panel. During this visit, my results showed a very high level of lipemia, or fat, resulting in a confirmed diagnosis of an inflamed pancreas, or pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis in Dogs — Treatment and Prevention
After being diagnosed with pancreatitis the first time, the Lady made a change in my diet by making sure my grain-free food contained no more than 10 – 12% fat content. But, the pancreatitis still flares up from time to time. So the Lady also has to watch how much she feeds me, too big of meals cause the pancreas to over work to digest the food. For this occurrence, unfortunately, she thinks that the treats used in our evening play time may have been too much for me on top of my dinner. She used to feed me a small breakfast and a dinner, but with Taffy it makes it difficult to do, so we eat one meal together. She thinks I don’t know that I get fed less than Taffy, but I do.
Because I see the vet before my condition becomes too serious, we have a simple treatment involving an anti-nausea and anti-biotic injection, and anti-nausea medication, Cerenia, to take for four days. I also have to skip dinner for a day so that the pancreas can rest by not having to digest any food.
Depending on your dogs symptoms other treatments can include fluid therapy for dehydration, electrolyte and potassium supplements, pain medication or even surgery if there is a blockage or fluid build up.
Here are Petmd.com’s recommendations on preventing and managing pancreatitis in dogs.
- A reduction in the dog’s weight (if it is overweight), and proper on-going weight management
- Avoidance of high-fat diets
- Avoidance of drugs that may increase inflammation
The Lady makes sure that we follow all of these recommendations. She watches my weight, avoids high-fat foods, and provides regular exercise to maintain my ideal weight. But, we are going to follow-up on APOQUEL to make sure that it does not increase inflammation of the pancreas. Because I took the drug for a few months before the pancreatitis began, she’s more inclined to think it was the additional treats, not the drug. But she still wants to make sure before she continues giving it to me for an extended period.
Pancreatitis is a very serious condition if not treated early. Be sure you are familiar with the symptoms and visit your vet promptly if they persist.