When our animals consume too much human food, it can create problems beyond a simple stomach ache. Among these issues is the threat of canine pancreatitis.
The pancreas releases two enzymes, protease and lipase, which help the body digest fat and protein after a meal. These enzymes break large molecules into small pieces that can be absorbed across the intestinal wall. When a dog consumes a large amount of fat or protein, the body releases excess enzymes to handle the digestion. Normally, these enzymes move from the pancreas to the digestive tract without an issue, but when enzymes are overpopulated, they move beyond the pancreas and into other tissues. Breaking down protein and fat turns into breaking down the pancreas and other organs, resulting in inflammation and pain.
Pancreatitis Symptoms in Dogs
Canine pancreatitis symptoms include:
- Nausea, with vomiting and diarrhea
- Loss of appetite. Eating is painful and causes vomiting shortly after.
- Abdominal pain
- Fatigue; reluctance to move
Treating Pancreatitis in Dogs
- Administer injectable fluids like sterile saline solution if the dog cannot keep water down.
- Provide medication to treat vomiting if that’s a problem – consult your veterinarian.
- Once you get the dog back on food, add pancreas enzymes such as Epizyme (Rx) so that the food can still be digested as the pancreas heals.
- Repeated episodes may scar the pancreas, causing pancreatic insufficiency. If this happens, the dog may require additional enzymes for life.
- Pain medications such as Metacam and Carprofen can be helpful but must be used with care. Some NSAIDs can cause issues with this disease.
Preventing Pancreatitis in Dogs
Be careful in the future – if a dog gets pancreatitis once, he’s at a higher risk for reoccurrence. Prevent future problems before they can happen! Keep garbage secured, and remind guests and family members not to feed your dogs greasy or rich human food. Dogs should get no more than 10 percent of their diets from table food, so stick with dog-safe veggies when you want to give your pup a special treat.
If you have more questions on pancreatitis in dogs, call us at 800.786.4751.
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Written by: Donald Bramlage, DVM
Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, practiced veterinary medicine for 30+ years and is known for his work in managing parvovirus. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University in 1985. He served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services from 2011 until his retirement in 2019.