Las Vegas Pet Scene Magazine - November/December 2016

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Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

s the holidays are coming up, this is a good time to talk about inflammation of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. The pancreas is a small but very important organ and is responsible for producing enzymes that help break down food for proper digestion, nutrient absorption, and insulin production, which is a key component for sugar regulation in our pets’ bodies. Pancreatitis is one of the more frustrating illnesses, in that, the cause is unknown and it can affect all breeds of dogs and cats. That being said, it is thought that it can be caused by rich fatty foods or getting into something they are not supposed to. It is also possible for our pets to get pancreatitis even on the strictest of diets when their stress levels are increased. Other examples of foods that could cause pancreatitis include Halloween candy, turkey skin and bones, roast beef, ham and gravy. Some pets can even have low-grade long term pancreatitis without displaying clinical signs because their bodies can compensate. But, eventually they are exposed to something that makes them sick leading to outward signs of illness. 18

How do you know if your pet has pancreatitis? Pets will usually show vague stomach upset with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, and an unwillingness to eat. Subtle signs such as drooling, acting more tired than normal, and eating inappropriate items such as grass can be the simplest of signs that your pet is not feeling well. Other illnesses can have similar signs so it is important to have your pet evaluated by a veterinarian. Clinical signs, physical exam, and blood work are usually used to diagnose pancreatitis. Often times x-rays or abdominal ultrasound are recommended. These diagnostics are helpful for ruling in or out other concurrent illnesses that may need to be treated.

Treatment Treatment for pancreatitis can be frustrating. Depending on the severity and concurrent illnesses, your pet may need to be hospitalized on supportive care to give them the best chance for a speedy recovery. The length of stay in hospital depends on how well your pet responds to treatment but the average is usually 3-5 days and can be longer.

Las Vegas Pet Scene Magazine • November/December 2016

The goal in treatment is to reduce inflammation in the pancreas by giving it some rest, which is achieved by intravenous fluids, gastro-protectants, pain management, along with getting them on a high quality nutrient diet. Your primary veterinarian may recommend that your pet be placed on a low fat bland diet long term to help reduce chances of getting pancreatitis again. Overall long-term prognosis is good if caught and treated early. Pets that have concurrent illnesses or if too much damage is done to the pancreas the prognosis may be more guarded.. It is important to keep our pets not only happy but healthy. Make sure to monitor what your pet eats during the holidays to avoid inappropriate meals and treats. Low fat treats or treats high in fiber such as carrots, zucchini, cucumbers and green beans are great alternatives.


If you have any questions or concerns you should contact your local veterinarian.



By Amber Pepper, DVM – Town Center Animal Hospital