Pancreatitis in dogs is a common condition that owners must be aware of in order to detect the early warning signs as they may not always be the most obvious. In many cases, symptoms of pancreatitis are mistaken for other issues that are less serious; this is very dangerous because if left untreated, pancreatitis is lethal.
The pancreas is an essential organ in the body of a dog. It produces digestive enzymes that assist in the digestion of food. In addition, the pancreas produces essential hormones such as insulin which helps the dog’s body regulate the level of blood sugar in the body. Pancreatitis refers to the condition that involves the inflammation of the pancreas. This illness commonly occurs in dogs and needs proper treatment to prevent untimely death.
Causes of pancreatitis in dogs
In a normal body, pancreatic enzymes are produced in an inactive state and then travel through the pancreatic duct to the duodenum, which is part of the small intestine of dogs. Once these digestive enzymes reach the small intestines, they are activated and go to work with the digestive process. If your dog has pancreatitis, these enzymes are activated in the pancreas instead of the small intestine, where they aid in digestion. The enzymes then begin to digest the pancreas and cause health problems. The clinical signs of pancreatitis often vary between patients, which makes it somewhat difficult to diagnose. The intensity of these symptoms also varies greatly.
Very often, the cause of inflammation of the pancreas cannot be clarified, which is known as idiopathic pancreatitis. Triggers are considered foods rich in fat, accidents and injuries, circulatory disorders of the pancreas during anesthesia or in shock, and different medications. In rare cases, it can be caused by a babesiosis or leishmaniasis infection. These factors stimulate the pancreas to digest itself, leading to severe inflammation, pancreatitis. To prevent self-digestion, the pancreas has several defense mechanisms. Disease arises when this protection is broken. In mild conditions, there is no evidence of self-digestion, and the causes of inflammation are unknown.
In addition, there have been studies conducted that have determined that in some cases, certain dog breeds have a genetic predisposition to developing pancreatitis. Certain breeds of dogs have been associated with a higher risk of pancreatitis. These breeds include the Miniature Schnauzer and other smaller toy breeds such as terrier breeds.
Acute Pancreatitis and Chronic Pancreatitis
There are two common forms of pancreatitis that a dog can develop, acute pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis. With acute pancreatitis, symptoms come on very suddenly and can be very painful for the dog. When it comes to chronic pancreatitis, the symptoms usually develop over time and tend to worsen as the disease progresses.
Clinically, the two different forms of pancreatitis are not much different. Usually, the clinical signs of acute pancreatitis are much more severe than the symptoms presented with the onset of chronic pancreatitis. However, both of these illnesses tend to reduce the quality of life of the dog; treatment is almost always needed to prevent further symptoms and death.
Symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs
When it comes to the development of dogs with pancreatitis, the symptoms can vary greatly depending on the severity of the individual case. If the pancreas is very swollen or has burst, the symptoms are much more severe, and emergency medical attention will be necessary to prevent death. If your dog is suffering from the sudden onset of any of these symptoms, it is important to seek emergency veterinary care.
Inflammation of the pancreas has very varied symptoms: the symptoms of the mild form are as follows:
- Loss of appetite
- Tummy aches
It is common to see dogs with abdominal pain lying in front of the body on the ground and the hind legs raised. The dog seems to be stretching, but it stays in place. In this way, the dogs can calm the pain. However, other organs such as the heart or kidneys may also be affected when the dog is suffering from pancreatitis. If your dog is showing signs of pancreatitis through the onset of the above symptoms, seek emergency veterinary help immediately.
Does my dog have pancreatitis?
Several tests must be done to reach a diagnosis of pancreatitis. Clinical tests such as blood tests provide important clues. If the canine pancreatic lipase (CPL) value is high, it is likely pancreatitis. An abdominal ultrasound is also a great help for diagnosis. Also, other diseases can be excluded by X-ray. Finally, a definitive diagnosis can be made by histological examination of the pancreatic tissue.
However, if severe canine pancreatitis is suspected, general anesthesia to obtain a tissue sample should be avoided at all costs. The results of the other tests are sufficient for an acceptable suspicion. So you can start treatment.
Treatment for pancreatitis
Treatment of inflammation of the pancreas consists of several treatment plans. The supply of a possible drug that could be the trigger must first be stopped. Also, possible associated diseases and complications should be avoided; there are a variety of diseases that can develop as a result of untreated pancreatitis. Symptomatic treatment includes fluid therapy in which any electrolyte imbalance is compensated. Vomiting and pain are also treated. After vomiting has stopped, the dog should be offered food and water again.
Contrary to what was previously believed, deprivation of food and water is ineffective. The disease is strenuous, so it is necessary to provide energy to the dog through food. A diet rich in carbohydrates, low in fat and protein, administered in small portions is recommended. Blood values should be checked regularly. An ultrasound control can be of great help, especially in severe pancreatitis, in which possible diseases of other organs must be considered and treated.
Prognosis in case of pancreatitis
The prognosis of canine pancreatitis depends on the severity of the disease. Mild forms have a good prognosis. However, it is necessary to provide your do with regular veterinary check-ups, as even mild forms can turn into serious diseases. Severe pancreatitis can be very dangerous, especially when other organs are affected. It is easy for complications to develop, and these have a poor prognosis.
Preventing canine pancreatitis
Triggers for pancreatitis are very complex to figure out, so preventive measures are quite difficult. However, certain medications and circulation problems appear to be risk factors, so they are best avoided. Regarding food choice, attention should be paid to being low in fat. The triggering medications should only be used only in emergency cases. When anesthetizing, attention should be paid to good blood circulation to the organs with the help of infusions.