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Pancreatitis

This condition keeps appearing on a number of the Facebook groups which I am a member of so on this sunny Bank Holiday Monday I thought I would do some research into the condition.

What is the pancreas?

The pancreas is a V shaped organ which is located behind the stomach and the first section of the small intestine. This is the organ which aids in the metabolism of sugar in the body through the production of insulin and produces pancreatic enzymes which are required for the digestion of food.

What is pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. When inflammation of the pancreas occurs the flow of enzymes into the digestive tract can become disrupted forcing enzymes out of the pancreas into the abdominal area. When this occurs the digestive enzymes will begin to break down fat and protein in the other organs, as well as the pancreas. Effectively, the body begins to digest itself. The kidney and liver are in close proximity to the pancreas so these organs can become affected.  

Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic, this means it may present with a sudden onset with no prior symptoms or it can develop slowly over time and flare up repeatably as a recurrent condition.

Symptoms of pancreatitis

  • Painful abdomen
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Depression
  • Poor appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea and yellow, greasy stools
  • Dog looks ‘hunched up’
  • Fever

Why does my dog have pancreatitis?

Middle aged dogs and dogs who have a diet high in fat and/or carbohydrate seem to most at risk. However, medications, infection, metabolic disorders, trauma and shock can also bring on an attack of pancreatitis.

Dogs who are not feed a high fat and/or carbohydrate diet can also have an occurrence of pancreatitis after eating a large amount of fatty foods. For example, at Christmas when more human treats are fed to the dog!

Diagnoses and Treatment

The diagnoses of pancreatitis needs to be made by a qualified vet who will carry out a number of checks and test on the dog.

If the dog is found to be suffering from pancreatitis an enforced fast will be imposed. Food and water will be stopped to reduce the strain on the pancreas. This fast can last two to five days and will be carried out at the vets as the dog will need to have intravenous fluids to ensure they do not dehydrate. Medications may also be administered.

Prevention of pancreatitis

To reduce your dog’s chances of suffering from pancreatitis you should ensure they are not overweight and get regular exercise.

Do not feed a high fat and/or carbohydrate diet. My recommendation would be a raw diet, picking lean meats such as chicken and lean beef.

If medications and steroids are required to manage the condition you may find your dogs immune system is compromised by these drugs. If a dog has a reduced immune system there is a possibility they will be more prone to infection even from a small number of normal bacteria in raw food. In this situation the food should be very lightly cooked prior to feeding.

Suitable treats

Low fat such as;

  • Dried Camel Sticks
  • Dried Salmon Skins
  • Venison Sinew Chews

Supplements

  • Dorwest Tree Barks – herbal nutritional supplement
  • Pet Drugs Online – Protexin Pro-Enzorb – supports pancreatic function
  • Pet Drugs Online – Pancreatic Enzyme Powder – help combat pancreatitis