What is pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is inflammation within the pancreas. The pancreas normally produces digestive enzymes in response to a meal to help break food down within the small intestine. In pancreatitis, these enzymes become active within the pancreas itself digesting the pancreatic tissue itself!

What causes pancreatitis?

In dogs, pancreatitis is an acute onset after ingestion of fatty foods (bacon, steak) and sudden changes in diet. Dogs will very suddenly be ill and show clinical signs within 24-48 hours of ingestion of an irritating substance. In cats, pancreatitis often occurs secondary to intestinal or liver diseases and is usually a chronic problem where signs are slowly progressive or intermittent.

What are the clinical signs of pancreatitis?

Vomiting, abdominal pain (hunched posture, prayer posture stretching, pacing, panting), diarrhea, nausea (lip smacking, yawning, retching)

How is pancreatitis treated?

Unfortunately, there is no direct cure for pancreatitis as the inflammation must run its course so treatment is primarily supportive. Patients diagnosed with pancreatitis often need to be hospitalized. Typical treatment consists of IV fluids to prevent dehydration and flush out inflammation, pain medication, anti-nausea medication and a low-fat diet. With proper support and early diagnosis, most patients will be well on their way to a full recovery in 3-5 days.

Can pancreatitis be life-threatening?

Yes. In severe cases of pancreatitis, the inflammation present can overwhelm the entire body. This can cause major secondary complications like blood clotting issues, organ failure, and infections. Early diagnosis is key is preventing these complications.

Can I prevent pancreatitis?

Avoid feeding table scraps especially meat or bones and keep your pets away during parties or barbeques where access to these foods is easier. If there is a cat in the household make sure their food is kept in a place the dog cannot access as cat food is high protein and high-fat content. Be cautious in giving your pet coconut oil either orally or applying topically as this can be too much fat especially in small dogs!