Trying to find the cause of your pet’s pancreatitis
PANCREATITIS is a condition we see in cats and dogs where their pancreas becomes inflamed and starts to cause trouble. It can be difficult to find the cause of pancreatitis. Sometimes it is stress or trauma related and may also be diet related.
Often in dogs it can occur after they scavenge something that is high in fat. Certain dog breeds are predisposed for instance miniature schnauzers, poodles, cocker spaniels, dachshunds and Yorkshire terriers.
Pancreatitis can be a long term waxing and waning disease or can be very sudden in its onset.
The symptoms can range from a mild grumbling stomach with a reduced appetite to very severe vomiting and diarrhoea with dehydration, abdominal pain and lethargy. In its severe forms pancreatitis can cause damage to other organs in the body and may even be fatal.
If your animal has severe gastrointestinal symptoms please contact your vet as soon as possible.
Equally, if you feel they are getting recurrent episodes of lethargy, mild gastrointestinal signs or periods where they seemed hunched or sore on their abdomen then also talk to your vet.
There are different causes of these symptoms in dogs and cats but pancreatitis is definitely on our list.
Pancreatitis is diagnosed by a specific blood test and we will often run a general blood screen with this to check for other diseases and asses general organ health. Depending on the animal we may also want to take x-rays and occasionally an ultrasound of their abdomen.
Pancreatitis animals can occasionally have a pancreatic abscess or tumour which can make treatment more complicated and the prognosis worse.
Treatment depends on the severity and chronicity of the disease. In some cases, especially dogs, a diet change to a low fat highly digestible diet is all that’s needed. However they may also need pain relief and anti-nausea medication. The severe cases will require hospitalisation and aggressive intravenous fluid therapy to help pull them through.
Claire Turner is a Veterinary Surgeon at St Vincents Veterinary Surgery, a family-owned practice providing personal care for all your pets in and around Wokingham
If your pet has severe gastrointestinal symptoms please contact your vet as soon as possible