|Despite being a very small organ, inflammation of the pancreas can often cause big problems in affected dogs and cats. The pancreas, which lives in the abdominal cavity of dogs and cats, has a very important role in producing hormones such as insulin, as well as enzymes necessary for proper digestion of nutrients whenthe pet eats. It is when these enzymes become active inside the pancreas itself that inflammation and clinical disease often can occur.|
If chronic inflammation occurs (known as pancreatitis) diabetes mellitus may develop as well as a disease called pancreatic exocrine insufficiency. Symptoms of acute pancreatitis can range from:
– Mild digestive upset
– Severe abdominal pain
– Loss of appetite
– Systemic bacterial infections
– Circulatory shock
While in most cases we don’t often known what causes pancreatitis in dogs and cats, risk factors include obesity, as well as those pets with a history of getting extra fatty treats from the table, or who have gotten into the trash.
Sometimes hormonal disorders such as hypothyroidism, as well as certain drugs and medications can also cause pancreatitis. Diagnosis can be difficult and is only possible with full veterinary exam and workup to include blood work, urine analysis, and sometimes X-rays and/or ultrasound. The gold standard diagnosis now is a blood test called a pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity, known as a PLI test.
This test is now available directly in the veterinary office. Treatment consists of fasting pets for up to a few days, administering IV fluids and injectable antibiotics, as well as other medications to control pain and/or nausea and vomiting. After a few days of hospitalization, bland diets can be introduced in increasing increments.
Those pets with some of the above risk factors may be placed on permanent low fat bland diets to prevent recurrence. Pet owners can help prevent this disorder by limiting excessive treats and/or table scraps from the table, as well as keeping pets at optimal weights by not overfeeding and giving their pets plenty of exercise.
Author: by Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian