Pancreatitis in dogs – how treats can be trouble
THE pancreas is an organ in the abdomen which has various functions. It is important in secreting hormones such as insulin to regulate blood glucose, as well as digestive enzymes to assist with breaking down food in the intestines. Acute pancreatitis is where the pancreas becomes inflamed and damaged. This occurs because the digestive enzymes, normally released by the pancreas to digest food, actually begin to digest the pancreas itself! These enzymes can also be very damaging to surrounding tissues. Furthermore, toxins may be released which cause wideranging effects to other body systems and can lead to further disease such as diabetes or even death. It can sometimes be difficult to identify the initial cause of pancreatitis, however there are some common contributing factors. Pancreatitis is often triggered when the dog has ingested a meal or treats which are high in fat content. Examples include marrow bones or left-over’s from a roast or baarbecue. Other predisposing factors include obesity or other concurrent hormonal imbalances. The symptoms of acute pancreatitis can include a combination of appetite loss, depression, vomiting, diarrhoea, a painful abdomen or fever. Diagnosis is achieved through taking a thorough history, performing a physical exam, running in house blood tests and using ultrasonography. Once acute pancreatitis has been diagnosed, the dog is very likely to require hospitalisation to undergo treatment. This includes fluid therapy, pain relief and anti-nausea medication to reverse dehydration and get the dog eating again. Once the dog is well enough to go home, they are required to be on a low-fat diet until the pancreas makes a full recovery. In some cases, dogs may require more permanent changes to their diet to reduce the chance of further pancreatitis episodes.