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Pancreatitis in Dogs: Symptoms & More

Posted 03.11.22 by Alison Bradshaw, DVM

The pancreas is one of your dog’s vital organs. It sits on the right side of the abdomen, right next to their stomach. The pancreas serves an essential role in creating the enzymes your dog needs to digest its food. It also produces insulin and other hormones that regulate your dog’s metabolism and glucose level.

If your dog’s pancreas becomes inflamed, it has pancreatitis. Pancreatitis happens commonly in dogs. There is no breed, size of dog, or sex of dog that is immune. Pancreatitis can come in different forms, be it chronic or acute.

What Does Pancreatic Abdominal Pain in Dogs Look Like?

When dogs are in pain, they will often suffer in silence. But just because dogs cannot verbalize that they have pancreatic abdominal pain, several signs can indicate pain.

When dogs are in pain, they may exhibit antisocial or aggressive behavior. They may stop running to meet you at the door. They may hide away or even become aggressive. If there’s a notable change in your dog’s behavior, you should be concerned.

Pancreatic abdominal pain may lead to dogs changing their sleeping habits, eating habits, and drinking habits. If dogs are in pain, they will likely try to sleep more to give their body a chance to heal. Some dogs that are experiencing pancreatic pain become more vocal. They growl, howl, yelp, and bark more. This is their way of expressing that something is not right.

Something else to look for is excessive grooming. If you see your dog constantly licking their paws, this could indicate that they are feeling pain somewhere. Additionally, altered breathing or heavy panting can be signs that your dog is experiencing pancreatic abdominal pain.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatitis in Dogs?

Common symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs include diarrhea, fever, lethargy, vomiting, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite. During an attack, dogs may be in a praying position. They may have their head lowered to the floor with their rear in the air. If the attack is severe enough, dogs may experience acute shock. It’s not uncommon for dogs dealing with chronic pancreatitis to develop depression. If the condition is left untreated, it can be fatal.

What Are Some Potential Causes of Pancreatitis in Dogs?

In a healthy dog, pancreatic enzymes are created in an inactive state. They go through the pancreatic duct and travel to the duodenum, part of the small intestine.

When these enzymes arrive in the small intestine, they are activated and start the digestion process. For a dog with pancreatitis, the enzymes become activated prematurely in the pancreas. It can be compared to a time-release capsule that opens up before the capsule reaches its intended target.

This leads to the pancreatic enzymes starting to digest before they reach their destination. They begin to digest the pancreas itself.

There are several reasons why pancreatitis may occur in a dog. These include malfunctions of the pancreas triggered by a fatty meal or the administration of corticosteroids. In most cases, and for most dogs, the situation happens spontaneously.

What Does Treatment for Canine Pancreatitis Entail?

Our veterinarians in Memphis can diagnose pancreatitis in your dog early on. The earlier we can get it diagnosed, the more successful the treatment will be.

If your dog is experiencing mild edematous pancreatitis, treatment may require allowing your dog and the pancreas to rest. This will let the body heal itself.

Analgesics may be administered to minimize severe pain. If dogs are vomiting and fasting, IV fluids may be given to maintain the normal electrolyte fluid balance. Your dog may also need anti-inflammatory medications and other medications to control diarrhea and vomiting. If our vet suspects an infection, antibiotics may be administered.

In many cases, dogs with pancreatitis will spend two to four days in the animal hospital. During this time, intravenous medications and fluids are administered. Food is gradually reintroduced into the dog’s system.

If your dog is experiencing severe hemorrhagic pancreatitis or is experiencing systemic shock, then intensive care will be administered using high doses of intravenous fluids and medications.

Why Choose The Pet Hospital for Veterinary Care?

At The Pet Hospital in Memphis, we know pets. We also understand that our Memphis customers deserve more than a 9-to-5 veterinarian. When you visit us, you will never feel rushed. If you have concerns about your furry friends after hours, you can feel free to reach out to us.

We have an expert team and have access to more than 30 top-notch veterinarians with a variety of skill sets. Our team is committed to continuing education. As a result, we can offer your furry friend cutting-edge treatment using state-of-the-art technology.

We know that you live a busy life. We have taken steps to make it easy for you to make appointments. We have created our facilities to allow us to do everything in-house, whether it be dental care, exams, lab testing, and even surgeries. This means that you and your pet can enjoy a no-hassle experience at our locations.

Most dogs will recover from pancreatitis with no long-term consequences. However, it’s essential that you seek professional help if your dog has symptoms of pancreatitis. This will help keep your dog healthy and happy.

Contact our team today for assistance!

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