Symptoms of Pancreatitis in Dogs for Pet Owners in Oak Park, IL
Have you ever heard of pancreatitis? If you’re a dog owner, it’s important to understand what this illness is, how it happens, how to recognize it, and what to do about it. Pancreatitis is a very serious condition that affects many dogs. Although it’s not entirely preventable, it is possible to make lifestyle changes for your dog that can cut down significantly on the risk factors.
In this article, you’ll learn more about pancreatitis and what it looks like in dogs. With this information, you can respond appropriately if you think your dog may be suffering from this frightening ailment in Oak Park, IL.
What is Pancreatitis in Dogs?
Pancreatitis is a severe and potentially fatal disease that is unfortunately quite common in dogs. This disease causes the pancreas to become inflamed and can be quickly very dangerous if left untreated.
Your dog’s pancreas—just like your own—helps with digestion. To do this, it releases specific enzymes that activate in the small intestine. However, when your dog has pancreatitis, the enzymes activate too soon and cause severe damage to your dog’s pancreas. The damage can spread very quickly to other parts of your dog’s body and affect her other organs too.
The scariest and most severe impact of this illness is that it can eventually cause the enzymes to digest the pancreas itself. This is very painful and very serious. If left untreated, this condition will lead to death.
It’s unknown exactly what causes pancreatitis, but there are many potential risk factors that increase a dog’s chances of having this disease. Eating too much fatty food, especially in one go, can cause a dog’s pancreas to become inflamed.
Dogs who have diabetes or who are very obese may also have a higher risk of pancreatitis. Hypothyroidism can also increase a dog’s risks of having this serious disease.
Certain autoimmune illnesses and some medications can also cause pancreatitis. Cocker spaniels, poodles, Yorkshire terriers, Dachshunds, and Schnauzers are more prone to pancreatitis than other breeds.
Symptoms of Pancreatitis in Dogs to Look Out For
- Hunched back: This is a common sign that dogs have stomach pain.
- Excess vomiting: While all dogs vomit sometimes—and vomiting once is not a cause for concern in dogs at all—you should take your dog to the vet if she vomits frequently back-to-back or can’t seem to stop vomiting.
- Diarrhea: Diarrhea may accompany vomiting, and your dog may be unable to control her bowels.
- Loss of appetite: Along with other stomach upset symptoms, your dog will likely be uninterested in food or even her favorite treats.
- Swollen abdomen: If you notice your dog’s abdomen has become swollen, this is a sign of severe pancreatitis and should be handled by a vet immediately.
- Weakness, depression, or lethargy: Many sick dogs exhibit these symptoms. If you see these signs, your dog is likely sick, in pain, or both, and should see a vet right away.
- Dehydration: Your dog will quickly become dehydrated due to excessive vomiting and diarrhea. Your vet will need to treat this dehydration to prevent lasting damage.
- Fever: Although not every dog with pancreatitis will run a fever, it is a very common symptom. If you notice your dog has a fever, with or without other symptoms from this list, take her to the vet right away.
What to Do Next
If you think your dog has pancreatitis, get her to the vet immediately. The sooner she sees a vet, the sooner she will be able to start healing. Your dog will not be able to heal without veterinary care, so it’s crucial that she sees a professional right away to manage this condition.
Your vet will let you know if your dog has acute pancreatitis or chronic pancreatitis. Acute pancreatitis is a version of the disease that happens suddenly and is life-threatening. Chronic pancreatitis, while still dangerous and concerning, develops slowly and causes repeat incidents of illness over time.
Your vet will then give your dog IV fluids to help deal with dehydration related to vomiting and diarrhea. Your dog will be watched carefully by the vet and may be required to stay overnight in some instances. Your dog will also be given medication to stop the vomiting and prevent further dehydration.
The vet will instruct you to rest your dog’s pancreas by preventing her from eating or drinking anything for 24 hours. This is why the IV fluids are crucial; your dog needs fluid, but she will need to stay off of water entirely during this time as well. After the first 24 hours, your vet will give you more instructions on how to begin feeding your dog again.
In most instances, dogs should be given a very basic diet for a few weeks after a bout of pancreatitis. They will need simple foods like plain cooked rice, plain boiled chicken, and other ingredients that are easy to digest.
Moving forward, dogs with pancreatitis should never be given fatty foods and should never be given table scraps. They should be fed smaller amounts of food throughout the day to prevent consuming too much at one time. Many dogs will be put on a prescription diet for the rest of their lives, but dogs who have had only a mild case of pancreatitis may not require this right away.
Your vet will always need to check and monitor your dog in the future to prevent further bouts of pancreatitis.
When in Doubt, Contact Your Vet in Oak Park, IL
It’s always important to pay attention to your dog’s health and wellbeing and respond right away to any signs of distress. If you think your dog may have pancreatitis, you don’t need to waste any time getting her to a professional.
Although you may be tempted to wait and see how things go, symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs can quickly escalate and become life-threatening in no time. Call your vet right away and be ready to go to an emergency vet clinic if your regular vet is unavailable to deal with the problem.