Symptoms and Treatment

Pancreatitis in pets is something we all need to know about before it happens because the symptoms of this disease are not always obvious and are often mistaken for something less serious. Pancreatitis can be life-threatening to your pet, so getting early treatment is essential.

Is your pet in pain?

The pancreas is a small organ near their tummy that helps them to digest food and control blood sugar. When it’s not working correctly, those digestive enzymes can cause inflammation and permanent damage to the pancreas and surrounding organs. It can be very painful for your pet and very serious.

The symptoms to look for are: a loss of appetite, vomiting, no energy, dehydration, hunched back, and abdominal pain. If your pet has these symptoms for more than a day or if they keep coming back you should visit your vet and get them checked out. Pancreatitis is most often diagnosed by a blood test and sometimes an ultrasound.

Do your pets raid the trash?

What causes pancreatitis in our pets? There are several possible sources for pancreatitis: a high-fat diet (or a dog that raids the trash and eats something very fatty), obesity, diabetes, abdominal trauma, certain drugs, endocrine disease, or certain insecticides and toxins. Sometimes pancreatitis is idiopathic, which means they don’t know why it happens. Older pets and certain breeds are more prone to pancreatitis. Sadly, pets that have one bout of pancreatitis are more likely to have successive problems.

Treatment for both dogs and cats include fluid therapy, pain relief, medications to control nausea and vomiting, antibiotics, resting the pancreas, a bland low-fat diet, medications to settle their tummies, and smaller more frequent meals.

Talk to your vet about what your pet should eat going forward. They will need to be placed on a low-fat diet (your vet may suggest an Rx diet), kept away from most human food, put on a diet if they are overweight, and kept out of the trash.  

If caught early most pets recover from pancreatitis. Be sure you don’t give in to your dog’s begging or sad eyes while you’re eating. Just give them a low-fat doggie or kitty treat and a scratch behind the ears!