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What are Pancreatitis?

Documentation has shown that pancreatitis typically affects dogs who are over the age of five. Many of the dogs who get this disease are obese or overweight. Miniature Schnauzers seem to be especially predisposed to pancreatitis though studies have shown that Yorkshire Terriers, Poodles, Dachshunds, and Cocker Spaniels commonly become afflicted with the illness. The disease can prove fatal if left untreated.

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, an organ close to the stomach. The pancreas produces enzymes that aid in food digestion and hormone regulation. When pancreatitis occurs, it is because the enzymes have prematurely become activated while still in the pancreas, instead of in the digestive system where normal activity takes place. Inflammation of the pancreas can result in secondary damage to other organs of the body.

Pancreatitis Average Cost

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Average Cost

$2,200

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Symptoms of Pancreatitis in Dogs

Symptoms will vary tremendously depending on the severity of the pancreatitis. Because the condition can rapidly deteriorate, a veterinary visit is imperative if your dog is showing any of the following signs.

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Appetite reduction
  • Depression
  • Jaundice
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Increased heart rate
  • Shock
  • Collapse
Types

Pancreatitis can be classified in two ways.

  • Acute pancreatitis
    • This is the more common form of pancreatic inflammation in canines
    • Several attacks can lead to the chronic form
    • The acute case is often more easily treated
  • Chronic pancreatitis
    • This form can remain undiagnosed due to mild signs and nonspecific test results
    • This leads to a continuous, progressive inflammation
    • It can lead to irreversible damage
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Causes of Pancreatitis in Dogs

Treating your pet for pancreatitis is imperative because your canine family member may suffer greatly without a resolution. There are many underlying causes for pancreatitis, as well as a myriad of complications that can arise due to the illness.

  • Pancreatic tumor
  • Duct obstruction
  • High level of calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia)
  • Obesity
  • Blunt trauma
  • Complication of surgery
  • Toxins or infectious agents
  • Consumption of a large amount of fatty food a short time, or ingestion of fatty substances from garbage
  • Inability of the body to break down fats (hyperlipoproteinemia)
  • Disruption of blood supply to the pancreas (ischemia)
  • Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Diabetes mellitus
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Diagnosis of Pancreatitis in Dogs

When you bring your furry family member to the clinic, the veterinarian will begin the consultation with a few questions. Be prepared to be as accurate as possible; all information is pertinent and useful. The veterinary caregiver will want to know specifically what type of food your dog typically eats, whether you feed him table scraps and if it is possible that he could have consumed something from a trash can. If you think your pet may have ingested a toxic substance, inform the veterinarian right away.

A physical exam will be included in the first stage of the visit, and the veterinary caregiver could search for a palpable mass in the abdomen. Several testing procedures could be suggested.

  • Tests like complete blood count, serum biochemistry and urinalysis are standard procedures that can help the veterinarian to explore the possibilities for your pet’s pain
  • These tests can also rule out systemic causes or complications, such as elevated liver enzymes, hypoalbuminemia, electrolyte imbalances, or an increase in white blood cells
  • A radiograph of the abdomen may be done; this can exclude potential causes such as an obstruction
  • An ultrasound could show the presence of a mass or displacement of organs
  • The pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity test is very effective (accuracy of 80%); a high concentration will most often lead to a diagnosis of pancreatitis
  • If the diagnosis is not yet clear, and your pet is in a stable condition, a fine needle aspiration or exploratory laparotomy may confirm the instance of abnormal cell behavior
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Treatment of Pancreatitis in Dogs

Early intervention is key in bringing your canine companion back to good health. A mild case of pancreatitis can be followed up at home with a change to a low-fat diet and possible pancreatic enzyme supplementation.

In more severe instances of inflammation of the pancreas, hospitalization is needed. The treatment will center around the severity of the attack. If vomiting is a factor, then food and water most certainly will be needed to be withheld for a period of 3 to 4 days, in order to give the pancreas the opportunity to rest. In effect, allowing the pancreas a time of rest stops the enzyme activity that is inadvertently causing damage to the pancreas itself. If there is gastrointestinal bleeding, antacids will be administered.

The veterinary team will be keeping a close watch over your beloved pet during his hospital stay. Pancreatitis can rapidly worsen, making the close monitoring a necessity. Intravenous fluids (to replace the food and water), anti-nausea medication, and pain relief will all be part of the hospital treatment. There could be accompanying diseases that need to be attended to, such as hepatitis or irritable bowel disease both of which can go hand in hand with pancreatitis. Of course, in the case of a tumor, for example, surgery may be unavoidable.

Once the veterinarian feels that your canine family member is well enough to go home, she will discharge your pet with full instruction on the required home care needed.

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Recovery of Pancreatitis in Dogs

Mild cases of pancreatitis have a favorable prognosis. If the episode is severe, the prognosis is more guarded because there can be systemic complications that crop up, and there is also the high risk of multiple organ failures.

A dog with a mild case of pancreatic inflammation will benefit from the lifetime management of his diet. Low fat, low protein food will be recommended. The veterinarian will have the appropriate food on hand; you need not worry about what you should feed your pet. The veterinary caregiver can advise you on the proper food for weight management (another important facet of pancreatic care), and for adequate nutritional intake.

A dog with chronic or recurring pancreatitis will need regular monitoring by the veterinarian. Ensuring a low-stress environment for your dog, the avoidance of medications known to aggravate his pancreas and the diligent care of any underlying disease will be crucial factors in maintaining your dog’s quality of life.

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Pancreatitis Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $800 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,200

Protect yourself and your pet. Compare top pet insurance plans.

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Pancreatitis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Dakota

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American Cocker Spaniel

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7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Drinking More Water

In March my dog was diagnosed with Pancreatitis. I am having a hard time finding things he will eat. I have tried several prescription foods but he will not eat those.

July 26, 2017

Dakota's Owner


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0 Recommendations

Dogs diagnosed with pancreatitis require to be fed a low fat, highly digestible diet; there are many different commercial diets available, however it may be a case of speaking with a Nutritionist to get a tailored diet which Dakota would find apetitising. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 26, 2017

My dog was treated overnight at the vet on Wednesday. I brought him home on Thursday afternoon and he inhaled the food the vet gave us (Science Diet I/d). My dog is on 5 different medications for pancreatitis. He still does not want to eat. He ate his food last night but we had to entice him to eat it. He are a little bit this morning. I gave him the meds, three of which are to be given with food. I'm worried:(

July 26, 2017

Danell


My 3 year old chihuahua just passed away after surgery yesterday. What I need to know is how my vet was able to misdiagnosed her with pancreatitis after 2 visits?? She had bloodwork done the second time n the vet sent her back home with more meds. I took her back a 3rd time after she had refused to eat for 2 weeks now. I asked for iv n xray.. since at this point only bloodwork n meds has been given. But it turns out she had swallowed some strings n damaged her intestines. Was my vet being negligent? And worst was surgery even an option since she was so weak she can barely walk?

Dec. 14, 2017

Sophy C.

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Pancreatitis Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $800 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,200

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