Pancreatitis in dogs is inflammation of the pancreas, a glandular organ in the abdomen that produces digestive enzymes as well as insulin. Symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs include not eating, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. While there are hundreds of reasons for not eating in dogs, if your dog is not eating, pancreatitis is a possibility, especially if your dog has any of the signs above. And, make no mistake about it, acute pancreatitis is always potentially life-threatening,
Signs of Worsening Pancreatitis
Signs of worsening pancreatitis in dogs include protracted vomiting not controlled with medication, unrelenting abdominal pain despite pain meds, weakness, shock, abnormal bleeding (due to disseminated intravascular coagulation), collapse, trouble breathing, and death.
Pancreatitis in dogs also occurs in a chronic-active form, with milder, waxing, waning symptoms that come and go. These dogs will intermittently need the help of antiemetic and pain-relieving medications and should always be fed low-fat food forever.
Causes of Canine Pancreatitis
The most common cause of pancreatitis in dogs seen in general veterinary practices is dietary indiscretion with ingestion of high fat food, aka getting into the garbage or stealing butter or other high-fat foods off counters.
Other causes of pancreatitis include hormone imbalances, certain medications, trauma to the abdomen (like if dog is hit by car), and obesity. Some breeds are more predisposed to pancreatitis than others including Miniature Schnauzers, Yorkies, Poodles, and Cocker Spaniels.
Treatment for Pancreatitis in Dogs
Treatment for acute pancreatitis in dogs usually involves hospitalization. Intravenous fluids are administered to combat dehydration, restore circulation to the pancreas and aid healing, and prevent shock.
Pain management is of the utmost importance as pancreatitis is painful. Pain medications are administered by injection in the hospital because vomiting dogs cannot hold down medications.
Anti-nausea and anti-vomiting medications (antiemetics)are also administered by injection. Once vomiting has stopped, small amounts of low-fat food will by started by mouth.
Panoquell-CA1 (fuzapladib) is an intravenous medication recently conditionally approved by the FDA for treatment of acute pancreatitis in the veterinary hospital. This drug prevents damaging white blood cells from entering the pancreas where they exacerbate the damage to the inflamed organ. This is exciting news, as anything that helps prevent worsening pancreatitis in dogs is paramount to a successful outcome with this serious illness.
Dogs who recover from severe, acute pancreatitis may suffer from diabetes in the aftermath, depending on how severe the damage to the pancreas was.