Pancreatitis in Dogs

Pancreatitis in dogs is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition. Pet owners should learn to recognize the signs and causes, and practice preventive measures. Today, we’re discussing pancreatitis in dogs, the signs, symptoms, prevention, and more, so that you can keep your dog safe from this common yet potentially dangerous illness.

Pancreatitis in Dogs: What is Pancreatitis?

dog walker katy, texasIn basic terms, pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, an organ located in the abdominal cavity of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. According to Sunset Animal Hospital in Houston, “Pancreatitis is a common health problem in dogs, and is an inflammatory disease. The pancreas becomes inflamed causing pain, loss of appetite, and vomiting. Pancreatitis may either be mild or severe. Mild forms of pancreatitis involve swelling. Severe forms of pancreatitis include bleeding, as well as swelling.” Pancreatitis can be chronic or acute.

The pancreas produces digestive enzymes but can be easily upset by diet and lifestyle choices. Pancreatitis occurs when pancreatic enzymes are activating before they reach the intestines. When this happens, the enzymes begin to digest the tissue of the pancreas.

Pancreatitis in Dogs: Signs and Symptoms

dog sitting katy texasPer Sunset Animal Hospital, signs and symptoms of pancreatitis include the following:

Chronic pancreatitis is usually less severe. Symptoms can include:

  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite or decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Acute pancreatitis is usually more severe. In its early stages it may mimic chronic pancreatitis. Symptoms can include:

  • Lethargy to severe lethargy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Severe dehydration
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Persistent Diarrhea
  • Collapse
  • Shock

If your pet presents with any of these signs or symptoms, we recommend you contact your veterinarian immediately. Not only can pancreatitis be painful and uncomfortable, it can escalate in severity very quickly.

Pancreatitis in Dogs: Causes of Pancreatitis in Dogs

dogs katy texasHigh-fat diets can be to blame for pancreatitis. This is one of the reasons we recommend keeping chicken and turkey skins, pork rinds, and other fatty table scraps out of your dog’s reach, especially around food-heavy holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Obesity in pets can also make them more susceptible to pancreatitis, among other things, especially as they age. As obesity rates rise, veterinarians are concerned that dogs will fall ill more frequently with pancreatitis, arthritis, etc. because they eating too many calories and doing too little exercise.

It’s important to note that, while lifestyle is a big risk factor, some breeds are predisposed to pancreatitis. According to Wikipedia, “Certain breeds of dogs are considered predisposed to developing pancreatitis including Miniature SchnauzersCocker Spaniels, and some terrier breeds.[8][9][11][17] Miniature Schnauzers as a breed tend toward developing hyperlipidemia, an excess of circulating fats in the blood.[18] The breed that appears to be at risk for the acute form of pancreatitis is the Yorkshire Terrier, while Labrador Retrievers and Miniature Poodles seem to have a decreased risk for the acute form of the disease.

In addition, comorbidity with common canine illnesses such as Diabetes, Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, and epilepsy tend to make dogs more susceptible to pancreatitis. Wikepedia adds that “Those with other types of gastrointestinal conditions and dogs that have had previous pancreatitis attacks are also at increased risk for the disorder.[2]

Pancreatitis in Dogs: Diagnosis

dog katy texasAccording to WebMD, “if your dog is positive for a test called pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity (PLI), then they probably have pancreatitis.” In addition, your veterinarian may recommend X-rays or ultrasound to help rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. And, finally, a fine needle biopsy of your dog’s pancreas can detect signs of swelling and infection but most veterinarians will likely use the PLI test and treat for pancreatitis before opting for invasive diagnostics like biopsy.

It is of utmost importance to receive accurate diagnosis for both acute and chronic pancreatitis so that steps can be taken to prevent flair-ups including diet changes, increased exercise, medication, and weight loss, if needed. While pancreatitis is a common canine ailment, it’s not normal and shouldn’t be disregarded as a simple stomach upset.

Pancreatitis in Dogs: Treatment Options

dog sitter katyOak Forest Veterinary Hospital outlines pancreatitis in pets in this blog. Treatments may vary based on severity of the case. “Mild cases of pancreatitis may be treated on an outpatient basis with special diet instructions and oral medications. More severe cases may call for hospitalization for intravenous fluid therapy and drug administration. Very severe cases may need a feeding tube or treatment for problems with blood sugar related to decreased insulin production,” they added.

While there is no cure for pancreatitis, most pets recover with proper treatment and prevention. The goal for treatment is to manage pain and discomfort, keep pet well hydrated, especially when experiencing vomiting and diarrhea, and reduce recurrence of symptoms.

Animal Admiration Pet Care Services Katy, TX

Pet Care in Katy, Cyrpress, Fulshear & West Texas

At Animal Admiration, we take pet health and wellness very seriously. If ever we notice that your dog has stomach upset or appears to be in pain or discomfort, we will notify you and/or your emergency contact per our policies. When your pet is sick, we can offer transport to and from your veterinarian of choice, monitor your pet with dog walking or pet sitting visits, and more.

Our team of dedicated pet care providers offers quality care pet sitting and dog walking in KatyFulshearRichmondEnergy CorridorMemorialWest Houston, and Cypress. To learn more about our team and our services, contact us at or (281) 391-1015. We look forward to caring for your pets!



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