How To Treat Pancreatitis In Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment

pancreatitis in dogs

The pancreas is an organ in every living body that produces and secretes digestive enzymes to stimulate food digestion. It also produces insulin for controlling food metabolism and blood sugar levels. When inflammation of the pancreas occurs, the digestive enzymes become active in the pancreas even before reaching the small intestine. As a result, the pancreas starts digesting itself and this leads to pain and swelling in the pancreas. Pancreatitis in dogs is an alarming issue which has fatal effects on their body. Therefore, if you have a pet dog, then it’s the right time to take care of this matter with great concern.

The disease in dogs can be of two types as follows:

Acute Pancreatitis

It is so sudden that you won’t find any symptom before the occurrence of this disease. If the inflammation spreads in your dog’s body, then it can damage other organs as well. Hence, it becomes life-threatening sometimes.

Chronic Pancreatitis

It is also very difficult to identify this disease, but it takes time to develop. If this disease occurs, then the dog will be reluctant to eat anything due to the loss of appetite. Infection in the pancreas from external agents can result in chronic pancreatitis.

Possible Sources Of Pancreatitis In Dogs

Obesity is the underlying cause of pancreatitis. If you offer high-fat diets to your pet almost on a daily basis, then there are high chances of obesity. Moreover, endocrine diseases such as hypothyroidism can lead to this disease as well. If you use any medication for your dog, then its side effects may affect the pancreas adversely. It has been found in a survey that the rate of pancreatitis increases during holidays. It happens because you prefer to share your meal with your dog. But, if the dog’s body fails to absorb the meal, then it can unknowingly lead to inflammation of the pancreas.

pancreatitis in dogs

Though pancreatitis can occur irrespective of the sex and age of dogs, some breeds of dogs are more vulnerable to this disease. If you do not keep the garbage away from your dog, then it can get into the trash, eat from the same and develop pancreatitis. Diabetes mellitus is a major source of both acute and chronic pancreatitis. It is a much rarer disease in case of middle-aged, older and female dogs. Dogs with epilepsy, gastrointestinal tract disease or idiopathic hyperlipemia are more prone to pancreatitis.

Identifying Symptoms Of Pancreatitis In Dogs

  • Loss of appetite and acute abdominal pain are the primary symptoms of pancreatitis.
    If your dog is suffering from pancreatitis, then it will go through severe abdominal pain and arching at the back.
    Your dog will become restless very quickly and will look sluggish or fatigued.
    Respiratory disorder or chronic bronchitis are the other signs of pancreatitis.
    Weight loss and frequent vomiting are associated symptoms of pancreatitis.
    In some cases, we have witnessed the pet to be suffering from fever.
    If the pancreatitis is severe, then your dog may get into acute shocks or severe depression.
    Increased heart rate and breathing difficulties are the fatal effects of pancreatitis.

Tests Conducted To Diagnose Pancreatitis In Dogs

If you get even a single indication that your dog is suffering from pancreatitis, then consult with your veterinarian or a reputed veterinarian near you. The physician will want to know the medical history of your dog and perform a thorough physical examination. If required, then he may recommend some diagnostic tests for your dog. Some of these tests are listed below:


 Biochemical tests to check whether the kidney, liver and the pancreas are working correctly or not.
The treatment can include a medical test to measure the blood sugar level of your dog.
Your pet may have to go through several blood tests to detect viral or bacterial infection, inflammation or anemia.
Electrolyte tests play a crucial role to determine whether your dog is dehydrated or suffering from an electrolyte imbalance.
Ultrasonographic evaluation to get a pictorial view of the pancreas and other abdominal organs. It thereby helps to detect pancreatic abscesses and cysts if any.

Treatment Of Pancreatitis

Now, the actual treatment of your dog will depend upon the test results. If the veterinarian thinks that the disease is not so severe, then he will prescribe some medicines to curb the abdominal pain. If the test detects any sign of bacterial infection, then you might have to give antibiotics to your pet. Besides this, the physician may prescribe intravenous fluids if your pet is suffering from dehydration. Your veterinarian may also prescribe potassium supplements or electrolyte-rich fluids to recover your pet from dehydration.

pancreatitis in dogs

You may need to follow a special nutritional diet for your dog. If required, you may need to hospitalize your pet at the veterinary clinic so that it can remain under 24 hours intensive care and monitoring. But, you don’t have to worry about this because very rare cases require hospitalization. Anti-inflammatory drugs are mostly recommended to treat pancreatitis in dogs.  

Precautionary Measures

If you strictly undertake the following preventive measures, then you can minimize the risk of your dog developing this disease.

1. It is essential to give special attention to the diet of your dog and avoid high-fat diets. The diet helps in weight management and reduces the chances of obesity in your dog.
2. Furthermore, do not let your dog eat anything from any stranger.
3. Try to keep the garbage at your home away from your dog’s reach.
4. Before giving any vaccine to your dog, discuss with the veterinarian once. This precaution especially applies to the toxins which contain the following elements: cholinesterase inhibitors, calcium, potassium bromide, phenobarbital, l-asparaginase, estrogen, salicylates, azathioprine, thiazide diuretics, and vinca alkaloids.
5. The pet may develop pancreatitis due to a genetic predisposition.  

After-Effects Of Pancreatitis In Dogs

If you identify at the right time that your dog is suffering from pancreatitis, then you can recover your pet without any long-term consequences. In some cases, pancreatitis has been found to destroy a significant number of cells that produce digestive enzymes. It, in turn, leads to a lack of secretion of the exocrine pancreatic enzymes. You can treat this with an enzyme replacement powder as recommended by the physician. Diabetes is a common long-term after-effect of pancreatitis in dogs.

So, if you find any of the aforesaid symptoms in case of your dog, then do not avoid it. Instead of that, consult a veterinarian immediately and take the precautionary measures to prevent adverse effects. If your dog is suffering from internal bleeding or intestinal complications, then do not feel reluctant to resort to surgery. If you are a pet lover, then remember that if your pet is happy, you will also live in peace as well.

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