Canine Pancreatitis: Questions, Answers and Considerations

by janie knetzer

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There are sadly many afflictions that can strike our four-legged friends.  We’ve been talking about some of them here and today we’re going to discuss something called pancreatitis.

What is pancreatitis?

Canine pancreatitis is simply the inflammation of the pancreas. There are two different forms that dogs can develop: acute pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis.

Acute pancreatitis is essentially a sudden inflammation of the pancreas. This has some serious complications and can be a deadly condition for your dog. Chronic pancreatitis, on the other hand, is a more enduring version of pancreatic inflammation. This can actually strike in episodic fashion or can be quite persistent. While it’s still just as troubling, it’s not as serious as the “acute” form.

What are the signs of pancreatitis in dogs?

The pancreas is an abdominal gland that produces digestion-aiding enzymes, so the majority of the symptoms associated with pancreatitis in dogs are related to the digestive system.

The symptoms tend to occur suddenly in our pets, which can make treatment an even more urgent affair. Some of the signs associated with pancreatitis include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting (large amounts) and diarrhea, possibly containing blood (diarrhea is not always present)
  • Greater need to consume water
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Temperature fluctuations
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry eyes and other signs of dehydration

The above symptoms can lead to other diagnoses, of course, so it’s always best to talk with your holistic veterinarian as soon as possible to find out exactly what’s going on with your dog.

What causes pancreatitis?

First, it’s important to realize that there are no known specific causes of pancreatitis. The exact rationale behind this condition is unknown, which can make tracking it down a bit of a complicated issue. That’s not to say that there aren’t any contributing factors, however.

High blood fat content, also known as hyperlipemia, can lead to pancreatitis. This is a condition in which the amount of fat in the blood is heightened, generally after a meal. For the most part, this condition self-regulates with the consumption of food. But in some cases, dogs can have metabolic issues that lead to more fat than usual remaining in the blood.

Infectious diseases, like bacterial or viral infections, can also lead to pancreatitis. And abdominal trauma has also been known to lead to pancreatitis. Stool eating, grass eating and stress are also contributing factors.  Obesity also plays a role, as you might imagine, so the overall nutritional status certainly can lead to trouble over the long haul.  Chronic episodes of pancreatitis can also lead to diabetes in dogs.

How is pancreatitis treated?

There are a number of treatment options for pancreatitis in dogs and your veterinarian will certainly have a read on the best routes for your best friend. That’s not to say that there aren’t any therapeutic measures that you can engage in yourself, though.

The main goal is to get the pancreatic back in working order. To do so, withhold all food, water and medications taken by mouth in order to reduce stress on the pancreas. Fluid should be given intravenously and/or by injection to stave off dehydration. In some more severe cases of canine pancreatitis, dogs may sometimes be given no solid food for a period up to five days.

Diets MUST BE low fat and include the right dose of nourishment and essential elements, which is where treatments like GreenMin come into play. This unique superfood formula delivers essential nutrients, minerals, amino acids, and vitamins that contribute to a healthy pancreas.

Weight reduction should also be a consideration, which could mean that other dietary concerns need to be addressed. And as always, consult your veterinarian for more information about diets and other treatment options for your pet.

In our next article, we will address actual diets for dogs with pancreatitis and even include a recipe or two.

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