Pancreatitis in Dogs

One of the most common conversations on dog's health we have at our market stall is that the customer's dog suffers from Pancreatitis. As we are not vets, we have consulted with animal health care professionals who have provided the following information in the article, about this ever increasing debilitating ailment to our fur babies.

The pancreas is part of the endocrine and digestive system, which is integral for the digestion of foods, as it produces the enzymes needed and produces insulin. When a condition occurs to cause inflammation of the pancreas, the flow of enzymes into the digestive tract can become disrupted, forcing the enzymes out of the pancreas and into the abdominal area. The digestive enzymes will begin to break down fat and proteins in the other organs, in effect, the body starts to digest itself. Inflammation of the pancreas (or pancreatitis) often progresses rapidly in dogs, but can usually be treated without any permanent damage to the organ. However, if pancreatitis goes long-term without treatment, severe organ damage can occur.

Symptoms There are a variety of symptoms that you may notice in the dog including Fever, Vomiting, Diarrhea, Loss of appetite, Dehydration, Fatigue and Sluggishness, Mild to severe abdominal pain (may become more severe after eating), Depression, Increased heart rate,  Difficulty breathing. Causes There are several possible causes of inflammation to the pancreas. However, this condition is much more common in dogs whose diet consists mainly of processed kibble.

Anatomically dogs are designed for digesting meat, bones, organs with some plant material. Nature never intended dogs to eat a heavily processed diet. When fed processed food, the pancreas gets overworked, and it becomes inflamed.

Obesity linked to a high fat and low carbohydrate diet has also been shown to be a risk factor for this disorder. Even without the presence of a high-fat diet, an animal can have an occurrence of pancreatic inflammation after eating a lot of fatty foods. Usually a tendency around Christmas or Easter when dogs have been given increased amounts of foods that are not typically a part of their diet.

Treatment Treatment by your veterinarian is a must for any inflammation of the pancreas. It is important to restrict your pet’s activity level following any therapy to allow for healing. Food and fluids will be stopped for a few days to give the pancreas time to rest, and to slow the production of digestive enzymes.

Introducing bland, low fat, easily digestible food will be recommended when feeding resumes until the condition has cleared thoroughly.  After the fast, start a mixture of pumpkin or squash and lean meat 50/50 and then introduce a raw or cooked diet. Stop feeding processed food because it is not species appropriate. If the pancreatitis was severe or is chronic (recurring), this food plan may need to be fixed permanently to protect your dog’s pancreas and internal organs.

Prevention These measures include a reduction in the dog's weight (if it is overweight), proper on-going weight management,  avoidance of processed and high-fat diets, avoidance of preservatives and salt; it is also essential the animal gets daily, regular exercise.  While these preventative measures will not ensure that your dog does not develop this inflammation, they will, however, go along way in helping to avoid this medical condition.