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Canine Pancreatitis
A Fairly Common Disease Among Middle-Aged Dogs

Canine pancreatitis is a disease to watch out for because just like many diseases that affect dogs, seeing a beloved pet suffer, is never easy. Not only is this disease relatively commonplace, it can also cause a lot of pain for the dog, (especially if it’s acute) and the treatment can be life-long depending on the degree of the damage done, and expensive. However, the important thing to remember is that there are recognizable signs to be aware of and there are preventative measures that can help in protecting your lovable companion from suffering this painful condition.

But even in the case that prevention doesn’t help and you find yourself dealing with canine pancreatitis and the resulting veterinary bills, try not to become worried or stressed out. There has been enough advancement in veterinary medicine to ensure that your pet has a good chance of a full recovery. But before we go there, let’s take a look at what canine pancreatitis is, what the common symptoms are and how to prevent them.

So, What Is Canine Pancreatitis?

The pancreas basically has two functions – it produces enzymes needed for digestion and it produces hormones including insulin, necessary for the absorption and storage of sugar and amino acids. Pancreatitis in dogs is the condition where the pancreas gets inflamed, leading to leakage of digestive enzymes which can result in causing damage to surrounding organs. It can happen in two ways – acute or chronic. Both are serious conditions and can be life-threatening for the dog, but when it’s acute, it’s sudden and intense and can be especially dangerous.

What Causes Canine Pancreatitis?

In majority of the cases, we don’t know for sure. That’s frustrating and scary, yes. But it happens. However, there are a lot of risk factors that may contribute to making your pet more prone to the disease. So take a look at the checklist and ensure that your pet is in the safe zone. It’s all you can do –

  • Obesity - Make sure your dog gets sufficient exercise
  • High-fat meals - Stay away from over-feeding or letting him have anything he wants
  • Contaminated food or water - Watch out!
  • Hyperlipidemia - High fat content in blood
  • Certain drugs and toxins - Make sure you check with the vet
  • Some types of bacterial and viral infections

While overweight, middle-aged dogs and some dog breeds are more prone to the disease, these risk factors contribute significantly to your dog’s chances of developing pancreatitis, so make sure you know this list by heart and steer clear of all the danger signs.

How Can You Tell It Is Pancreatitis?

Some symptoms are common to canine pancreatitis, but there is no reason to get unnecessarily anxious should your dog display one or more of the symptoms. These symptoms are also common to several other everyday infections and illnesses, so try not to have a panic attack till your vet clarifies the issue. These symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Decreased interest in food
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Appearing very tired and less active
  • Apparent pain in the abdomen combined with a hunched back
  • Dehydration

As you can see, these could be seen as everyday situations, so no need to panic. If you have reason to believe that your dog has something more than the surface-level problem, take him to the vet right away and have him checked.

What happens next?

Your vet will go over your dog’s history, put him through a thorough examination and may do blood tests in order to rule out other medical conditions before pronouncing the diagnosis.

Okay, So Your Dog Has Pancreatitis. Now What?

Treatment for canine pancreatitis is supportive – there isn’t a quick-fix solution, but the recovery process involves supporting the dog while allowing the inflamed pancreas to heal on its own. This isn’t as scary as it sounds, as healing does take place. But the process can be long and tedious.

Since the pancreas is inflamed, in order for it to fully heal, it has to be allowed to rest. Which means the dog will receive his nutrition and fluids by IV as opposed to ingesting them orally. This may be for 1-5 days or much longer depending on the severity of the condition.

It is highly possible that your vet will also recommend a different diet, one that’s low in fat and high in fiber and this may continue as a life-long precaution to guard against another bout of pancreatitis.

As mentioned earlier, this is a condition that often shows up unannounced, so while we can take the necessary precautions, it’s important to never beat yourself up for your dog’s condition. If your dog is diagnosed with pancreatitis, he’s going to need your love and support through recovery and that means, you have to remain strong and positive!

One more important thing: While your dog can't tell you when he is feeling out of sorts, you can learn how to recognize early warning signs of dog illnesses and what to do about them. I recommend owners obtain a copy of Veterinary Secrets Revealed, a valuable e-book, written by a qualified vet, which contains information about numerous dog health issues, useful home remedies, plus advice about which dog illnesses need a prompt consultation with a pet professional.

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