Chihuahua looking up at leftover meal on dinner tableIt is a problem that we diagnose more than we would like, and it can be downright awful. Pancreatitis is an often diagnosed health issue, especially this time of year, as we enter a season of overindulgence and celebration.

The Whole Pet Vet Hospital and Wellness Center wants you to know how to recognize pancreatitis in pets and learn what you can do to prevent it.

Pancreatitis Primer

The pancreas is an organ that resides in the abdominal cavity. It is involved in many important bodily functions, including producing insulin and enzymes that aid in digestion.

Pancreatitis is the term used to describe inflammation in the pancreas. Pancreatitis can range from very mild to a debilitating condition. Symptoms may include:

  • Lethargy/depression
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Dehydration

Severe episodes can even cause diabetes due to scarring on the organ. Pancreatitis is often diagnosed based on physical examination and blood tests. Sometimes additional testing, such as ultrasound, may be helpful. Testing to rule out other causes of symptoms may also be needed.

Battling the Beast

When we suspect or diagnose pancreatitis in pets, we must rely primarily on symptomatic care. There is no cure for pancreatitis, so we must help the pet deal with the symptoms until the flare subsides.

Mild cases may be treated at home with pain management, special diets, and medications to help with any gastrointestinal disturbances. More severe cases may require hospitalization for intravenous fluid therapy and intravenous medications. In very severe cases, a feeding tube may be required.

Most pets can and do recover; however, untreated, this can be a life-threatening condition. Unfortunately, pets who suffer from a pancreatitis episode are more likely to experience another one in the future.

Preventing Pancreatitis in Pets

We don’t always know what triggers a pancreatitis episode. We do understand, however, that the pancreas is an organ that is very involved with the digestion of fats. Overeating, especially richer foods, can trigger this problem.

As the holiday season approaches, it is important to remember to:

  • Limit or avoid table food for your pet
  • Steer clear of giving fatty foods, such as gravy, bacon, or buttery veggies
  • Ask house guests to refrain from slipping your pet extra treats
  • Keep holiday treats out of the reach of curious paws

Pancreatitis in pets is certainly not any fun, but with good care we can help. If you think that your pet may be experiencing signs consistent with pancreatitis, let us know right away. The sooner we are able to diagnose and begin treatment, the more quickly and successfully your pet is likely to recover.