DAIRY “MOOS”LETTER - Medford Veterinary Clinic

Small Animal Newsletter
Medford office 715-748-2341
Colby Office 715-223-2858
November/December 2013
898 S. Gibson Street
Medford, WI 54451
1010 North Division Street
Colby, WI 54421
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Pancreatitis in Dogs
What is the pancreas, and why is it needed?
The pancreas is a glandular organ that is tucked
under the stomach and duodenum, which is the first
part of the small intestine - see diagram.
What are the signs of pancreatitis?
The signs can vary from mild gastrointestinal upset
to collapse and death. Presenting signs may
The pancreas has two functions: 1) exocrine - to
produce the enzymes needed to digest food, and 2)
endocrine - to produce hormones, including the
hormone insulin, which facilitates the uptake and
storage of glucose (sugar) and amino acids
What causes pancreatitis?
For the majority of cases, the cause is unknown.
Pancreatitis can occur in both dogs and cats, but is
more common in dogs, especially the acute form.
Cats more commonly have the chronic form, and it
can be difficult to diagnose.
In dogs, obese middle age to older animals have a
higher incidence, as do females. Even though exact
causes are not known, there are identifiable risk
factors. Here are some potential risk factors:
Hyperlipidemia (high fat content in blood)
High fat meal (trigger for hyperlipidemia)
Obesity (especially dogs)
Concurrent disease - i.e. Cushing's,
Diabetes Mellitus
Not eating
Painful abdomen, hunched appearance
(more common in dogs)
Fever or below-normal body temperature
Dehydration, evaluated by noting sunken
eyes, dry mouth, and increased skin turgor
(skin tents when pinched)
These signs are not specific for pancreatitis, and
can be seen with many gastrointestinal diseases
and conditions. All or some of the signs may be
noted in an individual patient with pancreatitis.
Cats can be especially difficult to diagnose due to
the vague signs they exhibit with chronic pancreatitis
- depression/lethargy and poor appetite are seen
with regularity, and gastrointestinal signs of
vomiting, diarrhea, and / or pain are seen
How is pancreatitis diagnosed?
Your veterinarian will evaluate your pet's history, do
a thorough physical examination, and likely do blood
tests to rule out other diseases and to check
pancreatic enzymes. Radiographs (x-rays) may also
be done to rule out a gastric or intestinal foreign
body or other GI diseases or conditions.
What is the treatment for pancreatitis?
Treatment for this disease is supportive, meaning
that there isn't usually a direct cause and cure, but
supporting the animal while allowing healing. The
veterinary team will take care of the animal's fluid
needs via IV, pain management, and will address
any other disease processes (infection, diabetes,
etc.) while letting the pancreas heal on its own.
Resting the pancreas and gastrointestinal system is
key, and this means no food or water while vomiting.
This is dependent on the severity of each case, and
the animal must be on fluids and other support to
survive and heal the pancreas while off of oral food
and water.
What about follow up care post-recovery, and
what is involved in the management of chronic
Your vet will likely prescribe a low-fat, high-fiber diet
to aid in your pet's recovery and to prevent future
bouts of pancreatitis. Depending on your pet's case,
the diet recommendations may be for life for optimal
health and preventative care.