Canine CareHealth

Symptoms of Pancreas Problems in Dogs – What You Need to Do

Pancreatitis is one of the daunting health conditions that a dog may experience. If your dog vomits and refuses to eat, you should be alarmed as it can be a tell-tale sign of this condition. However, the symptoms of pancreas problems in dogs can overlap with other conditions.  This is why you need the help of a veterinarian.

In this post, we will help you identify the signs of pancreatitis and what you can do if your pet starts to exhibit such symptoms.

What is pancreatitis?

The pancreas is a vital organ located on the right side of the abdomen. It’s tucked near the stomach while surrounding the intestines. This organ is responsible for the production of various enzymes that regulate insulin and food digestion. With this, the pancreas is directly associated with glucose metabolism and proper digestion.

If something goes wrong with the pancreas, the dog will experience chronic or acute symptoms. The enzymes that the organ produces are supposed to be activated only when it reaches the small intestines. However, when the pancreas becomes inflamed and dysfunctional, the enzymes will be activated upon release.

When this pancreatitis sets in, the active enzymes will cause damages to the surrounding organs and tissues. Worst, it would start to digest the pancreas itself. All of these will cause excruciating pain to your pooch.

Take note that pancreatitis chooses no breed, age, or gender. If your dog experiences acute or chronic pancreatitis, they will have recurring bouts of the disease. Only a small number of affected canines have reached full recovery.

In this video, Dr. Karen Becker tells us more about pet pancreatitis and how to avoid it:

Two types of pancreatitis

If the pancreatic problem has advanced to pancreatitis, it can either be acute or chronic. Here are the differences between the two:

*Acute pancreatitis

This happens when pancreatitis happens suddenly and with no apparent history. So even if your dog doesn’t have any history of pancreatic problems before, it can still succumb to acute pancreatitis later on. Take note that acute pancreatitis can put your pet’s life in danger as the inflammation can spread on the surrounding organs.

*Chronic pancreatitis

Unlike acute pancreatitis, chronic pancreatitis takes place gradually. It could be due to continued exposure to a high-fat diet or if your dog experiences recurring episodes of acute pancreatitis.

Whatever type your dog has, both will cause pain and intense discomfort. Both will also compromise your dog’s health and put its life at risk.

Symptoms of pancreas problems in dogs

Pancreatitis always shows its symptoms. However, it will do so when the condition has already advanced. The key here is being watchful and proactive when your dog shows some of the symptoms. The following are the classic signs of pancreatitis in dogs:

*Weakness / restlessness
*Poor appetite
*Hunched back (hunching over time)
*Distention of the tummy area

If you notice that your dog has recurring nausea and high fever, seek the vet right away. Don’t dismiss it as a simple stomach problem. Early diagnosis of symptoms of pancreas problems in dogs will help increase your pet’s possibility of surviving pancreatitis.

Also, never self-medicate your dog. Proper diagnosis should only be paired with proper treatment. Otherwise, your dog’s condition will only worsen and you’ll pay more in treatments later on.

Breeds prone to pancreatitis         

Dogs of any age, breed, and gender can develop pancreatitis. Still, some breeds have a higher risk, especially if they are given a high-fat diet or food. In fact, vets have recorded higher cases of pancreatitis during the holiday season.

Even if you don’t give your pet leftovers, they can still dig through the trash and get some unintended snacks.

Breeds like Cocker Spaniel, Miniature Schnauzer, and Miniature Poodle are some of the dogs with a higher risk of having pancreatitis. And even if your pooch’s breed isn’t susceptible to pancreatitis, being overweight will still keep them at risk.

What causes problems in the pancreas?

A number of potential culprits could lead to this condition. As much as possible, you should watch out for the following:

*High-fat diet
*Your dog eating just about anything
*Canine diabetes
*Specific medications and toxins (especially after a surgical procedure)
*Blunt trauma near or on the pancreas area

Take note that giving your dog human food increases their risk of acquiring pancreas problems. It might be tempting to give in to your dog’s begging, but avoid giving them table scraps. It’s much better that you put it on the mulch than to let your dog suffer slowly.

What to do if you notice the symptoms on your dog

If you notice that your pet is showing potential symptoms of pancreas problems in dogs, you must book an appointment with the vet right away. Since it’s a problem with the internal organ, only a veterinarian can perform a proper diagnosis.

Also, the more you drag the consultation with the animal doctor, the more your pet’s condition becomes worse.

Avoid doing any home medication to soothe your dog. Giving your dog supplements that the vet did not prescribe may worsen the problem.

Proper diagnosis for pancreatitis

Once you arrive at the vet’s clinic, the veterinarian will conduct several tests to check for symptoms of pancreas problems in dogs. Here are the things you should expect:

*The vet will ask for your dog’s medical history

If you’re taking your dog to a different veterinarian, make sure that you have its medical records handy. Nevertheless, if you’re consulting on the same vet, the clinic will already have it on their system. This is necessary so the vet can consider other health problems your dog had in the past

*Physical check-up

Next, the vet will check your dog’s physical symptoms. They will look for a distended stomach or a hunching back. After the vet has an idea of what your dog is going through, they will confirm it through the next step.

*Laboratory tests

The vet will get blood samples of your dog to identify if your pet has an abnormally high level of white blood cells. Also, the vet will watch out for an increased in pancreatic enzymes, which may indicate a problem with the pancreas. Take note that even if the pancreatic enzymes are normal, your dog can still be on the verge of pancreatitis.

Usually, blood tests will reveal if your dog is suffering from inflammations, infections, and so on.

Chemistry tests will be done to check any changes or abnormalities in the kidney, liver, pancreas, intestines, and other internal organs.

Also, an electrolyte test might be conducted to check fir for an imbalance that might be causing the symptoms your dog is showing.

*Pancreatic test

If the lab tests still don’t point out to a specific problem, the vet may use a modern approach for a pancreatic test. Radiographs can be used to show potential changes in the dog’s pancreas and surrounding organs. This can also help diagnose other problems in your dog’s digestive system.

Treatments for pancreatitis

Once the vet confirmed that your dog is indeed suffering from pancreatitis, treatment will follow. Depending on the extent of the condition, the treatment may or may not include the following:

*Putting the dog on fasting mode for 24 hours to give the pancreas a rest
 *Antiemetics to stop the vomiting
*Pain medicine to improve your dog’s quality of life temporarily
*Intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration
*Intensive care at the veterinary clinic until progress is observed

Take note that each dog differs from another. The treatment will depend on what the veterinarian will deem suitable for your pet. Further tests could be performed to identify if your dog will respond positively to potential treatments.

If your dog shows progress, the vet may discharge your pooch. However, you’d have to follow strict instructions based on the prognosis of the condition. Mostly, vets will ask you to shift your dog’s diet into a low-fat one with nutrition that will sustain the pet’s wellness. Usually, the vet will also encourage feeding your dog in small amounts to prevent the pancreas from experiencing too much strain.

Take note that most dogs that have been diagnosed with either acute or chronic pancreatitis will require life-long care. The vet will prescribe medications to reduce the inflammation and to prevent the enzymes from digesting the pancreas.

Aside from these long-term responsibilities as the pet owner, you also have to get your dog’s lipase and amylase levels checked regularly. This way, the vet can act fast if your dog happens to lapse from its progress.

symptoms of pancreas problems in dogs

How to care for dogs with pancreatitis

You have to pay close attention to the prognosis of the veterinarian. Depending on the extent of pancreatitis, a dog may have a guarded prognosis.

Dogs with mild pancreatitis will have a positive prognosis after aggressive treatment. However, if your pet didn’t respond to the initial treatment, expect that the prognosis will not be as good as others.

If, after the treatment, your dog suffers from a hemorrhagic condition, your pet may experience sudden death. Some will have a more severe health problem that will require intensive care for long.

Generally, you can heed the following pieces of advice to care for your dog:

*Avoid any self-medication

Follow only what the vet taught you. If your dog exhibits any adverse reaction to a prescription or diet, phone the veterinarian right away.

*Mind the fat content of their diet

After the initial treatment, you’d have to be careful about the fat consumption of your pooch. You can tap the help of a pet nutritionist if you’re at a loss here.

*Keeping your dog away from garbage bins

Dogs are naturally inquisitive, and their keen sense of smell just fuels this instinct. As much as possible, keep your canine away from the garbage bin. Also, don’t give your pet access to the place where you dispose of your table scraps. Dogs that have been diagnosed with pancreatitis should be sheltered, especially when it comes to what they eat.

How to prevent pancreatitis in dogs

Like how the trite saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure”. Consider yourself lucky if your doggo is in the pink of health right now. To prevent your Fido from developing pancreatitis, keep the following points in mind:

*Weight management is crucial

Obesity is a risk factor among dogs when it comes to pancreatitis. Aside from that, the excess weight may also cause orthopedic problems. Free-feeding seems like a thoughtful move, but it’s actually making your dog a big disservice.

*No more table scraps

Table scraps are one of the common culprits behind pancreatitis. Lots of human food items are packed with fat, which hurts your dog’s pancreas. Besides, dogs have a different diet than humans.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can dogs survive pancreatitis?

A: If the condition is addressed later on with the help of a veterinarian, there’s a high chance that the dog can survive pancreatitis. This goes the same for canines with a positive prognosis after the treatment. Once you notice the symptoms of pancreas problems in dogs, consult a vet right away.

Q: How long does it take for a dog to recover from pancreatitis?

A: Very mild cases of pancreatitis will go away within 72 hours with proper treatment. For acute or chronic cases, your dog may have to be admitted to the vet clinic for weeks. If the dog has been diagnosed with pancreas abscess, a surgical procedure might be needed.

Q: Can peanuts cause pancreatitis in dogs?

A: Peanuts aren’t poisonous to dogs, but since it’s high in fat, it may have a small contribution to the development of pancreatitis. This is true if you give your dog enormous amounts of peanut butter and other peanut products.

Q: Is a raw diet good for dogs with pancreatitis?

A: As long as it’s prepared fresh and contains a low percentage of fat, a raw diet will be fine for your dog.

Final words

As the pet owner, you should be watchful for the symptoms of pancreas problems in dogs. This way, your dog can receive the proper treatment as early as possible. Take note that the help of a veterinarian is crucial in this condition.

Has your dog been diagnosed with pancreatitis before? Feel free to share your experience with us in the comment section.