In August of last year the Lady I rescued wrote about my bouts with pancreatitis and the causes and treatment for it. We want to remind our readers about this common condition and learn how to tell if your dog has pancreatitis or another condition. If not treated promptly it can lead to hospitalization or even death. In the last few months I’ve made four trips to the vet including two to the emergency vet. The Lady’s concern for my health, and our vet’s, is more serious than ever, resulting in changes in my treatment, food and eating schedule.
The holidays are NOT a good time to have an upset stomach!
If my dog has pancreatitis — is it serious?
Yes, especially if not treated right away.
Pancreatitis progresses quickly in dogs, but is easily treated if caught early. If not, severe organ or brain damage can occur resulting in hospitalization or even death.
What can I do if my dog has pancreatitis?
If your aren’t familiar with pancreatitis in dogs be sure and visit my earlier post to learn the symptoms, causes and treatments.
Despite the Lady’s knowledge of my issues with pancreatitis, and the precautions she takes on a daily basis, sometimes a few things happen that rock the boat of our routine, with me ending up at the emergency vet. To date we’ve managed my condition by:
- Feeding me a low-fat diet 10-12% fat or less
- Feeding me smaller meals twice a day
What caused an upset in my routine last October was a few days of rain. Dachshunds do not like rain and this one will not go for walks in the rain and pretty much will hold it until it’s dry out. Unfortunately, the Lady always feeds me breakfast after my walk. I have two meals a day as eating too much can bring about pancreatitis by not being able to digest a large meal. So for two days I didn’t get breakfast but a full meal at dinner time. On the third day I got breakfast and when the Lady tried to feed me dinner I didn’t want it. The Lady seemed very upset I wouldn’t eat so I tried to eat some food for her and that’s when the warning bells went off. She took the food away from me grabbed a leash and got me in the car rushing us to the vet a few blocks away before it closed. Walking to the door the realization hit that it was Wednesday and there is no vet on Wednesday (not sure if this is a Chicago thing only or not). But, the office manager is there so we went in. By now the Lady is really worried because I’m twice my size. The office manager thought I looked bloated too and they agreed I needed to go to the emergency vet right away.
Luckily the emergency vet is not far. When they weighed me I was 29.2 pounds! My normal weight is 24 pounds! Despite being an emergency vet things seem to move really slow there. Finally, after the vet’s exam she took me in the back for possible x-rays of my abdomen. We returned shortly back to the exam room with my tail wagging. The vet showed the Lady a basin containing my vomit. The vet and the Lady discussed what the condition of the vomit meant, it was partially digested and undigested food which means I had food bloat from over-consumption. As soon as I threw up I felt better and was ready to go home. But, the vet dragged me unwillingly to the treatment room again for fluids.
My discharge orders were a long walk that evening, no more food that night or tomorrow morning and half of my day’s food for dinner. I felt my dinner the next night was a bit small but the Lady is not taking any more chances. But, racked with guilt for messing up my feeding schedule she couldn’t help feeling like we dodged a bullet by no recurrence of my pancreatitis. Yet.
A few weeks later I’m back in the ER.
For some reason after my dinner at 4 p.m., she must have fed me too much, my symptoms for an upset stomach began. For me it’s licking the floor, pacing and trying to eat anything outside. Hoping to prevent a trip to the ER, the Lady gave me a quarter of a Pepcid tablet. This is something the vet prescribes for me regularly so be sure you check with your vet before trying this. I seemed a bit better but outside I kept eating grass. She gave me another quarter tablet of Pepcid. A little later I vomited the grass up. Off we went to the emergency vet again.
Blood work that shows a high level of lipedemia is the most accurate way to determine if your dog has pancreatitis.
Because of Dolly’s history with pancreatitis the vet didn’t have to do blood work. The Lady and the vet agreed on outpatient supportive care and an injection of Cerenia, a common anti-nausea medication. Our discharge instructions were to monitor me closely for any increase or change in symptoms and to follow-up with our vet. I also wasn’t allowed any water or food until 6 a.m. and then start feeding a bland diet for 3 – 4 days in smaller portions 3 -4 times a day. This is where the Lady slacked off some in my feeding. I loved the chicken and rice but after a few days constipation set in. Our vet’s office said to stop the rice so the Lady began feeding me my regular food again instead of gradually adjusting to the diet. Not to mention it was almost Thanksgiving and I am strictly forbidden any human food or pet treats. Now I’m thinking this is just plain cruel. But, you can see how sensitive the dog’s digestive track becomes and how easy it is to upset the delicate balance.
Common treatments if your dog has pancreatitis include:
- Anti-nausea medication such as Cerenia
- No food for 24 hours allowing the pancreas to rest
- Bland diet
Even though a few weeks took place between my trips to the emergency vet, the Lady felt convinced that the food bloat led to the pancreatitis flare up. It didn’t take much as my digestive tract is so sensitive.
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. Also, some breeds are more prone to pancreatitis including Boxers, King Charles Spaniels and Collies. I am not out of the woods yet after my second trip to the ER, as you will find out in our next post, just how serious pancreatitis is and how difficult it is to get over it.