Canine Pancreatitis

Canine Pancreatitis occurs when the cells of the pancreas are damaged enough to leak digestive enzymes, and can be either acute or chronic.

The symptoms of Canine Pancreatitis are a painful distended abdomen accompanying a lack of appetite. The dog may become depressed and may show signs of dehydration. It may also vomit frequently and the red tissues of the mouth and eyes may have a change in color. Diarrhea and/or a yellow, greasy stool may also be present as well as fever. If your dog has a combination of these symptoms, take it to the veterinarian.

The veterinarian will diagnose Canine Pancreatitis by listening to the history of the dog provided by the owner concerning the symptoms the owner had observed recently. The veterinarian will then perform a physical exam; take specimens for laboratory testing then order x-rays and an ultrasound if he/she feels they are necessary. On rare occasions, a biopsy may be required.

If the vet determines that the dog has Canine Pancreatitis, then treatment will begin immediately with all food and water being withheld as well as any oral medications that the dog may be taking. Taking the dog off food and water allows the pancreas to rest and hopefully begin healing. Food and water will be withheld for up to 3 days. Fluid therapy should be started to prevent dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. IV fluids may contain potassium supplements and Plasma transfusions may be needed to provide special proteins that have the ability to inhibit pancreatic enzymes. Pain relievers are usually prescribed because if pain goes untreated it will affect the dog’s immune system and will increase the dog’s chance of dieing. Meperidine or Butorphanol are the pain relievers most often used, in either injectable form or continuous drip. Antibiotics will be started to fight any infection and medications will be given to control nausea and vomiting. If the veterinarian can determine the cause of the Canine Pancreatitis, that will be treated as well. Surgery will be performed in rare cases.

Canine Pancreatitis is prone to affect middle aged to older female dogs and is prevalent in miniature poodles, cocker spaniels and miniature schnauzers. Diabetes Mellitus often occurs if a high percent of the pancreas has been damaged to the point to where the pancreas can no longer produce enough insulin. The prognosis for dogs with Canine Pancreatitis depends on the severity of the illness. If the dog has been diagnosed as having a mild case then the prognosis is good, but if the dog has a more severe case, the prognosis is poor or guarded at best.

Dogs who have recovered from Canine Pancreatitis have a good chance of having it relapse. To keep a relapse from occurring the probable causes should be eliminated. These causes are obesity, fatty food diets, fatty tablescraps, or a long-term use of corticosteroids. Early diagnosis is best and prompt medical attention should be sought.

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