What is pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas that can occur in both dogs and cats. The pancreas is the organ responsible for producing insulin, as well as enzymes that help to break down fats and proteins in the small intestine. These enzymes are in an inactive state while in the pancreas. During a bout of pancreatitis, the enzymes are activated in the pancreas instead of outside of it, causing the pancreas to start breaking down – resulting in massive inflammation and pain.
What causes pancreatitis?
The inciting cause of pancreatitis in both dogs and cats is largely unknown. In dogs, it can be associated with eating a fatty meal or something else they are not used to. Risk factors in dogs include obesity and diseases such as Cushing’s disease and Diabetes Mellitus. Pancreatitis tends to occur in middle-aged to older animals. In cats, risk factors include any type of gastrointestinal disease, as well as certain medications.
What are signs my dog or cat may have pancreatitis?
- Decreased appetite
- Abdominal Pain
How is pancreatitis diagnosed?
If your pet is vomiting and lethargic, you should take it to a veterinarian right away. Your vet will perform a complete physical examination which may make pancreatitis highly suspicious. Unfortunately, pancreatitis can look like a lot of other conditions we see (such as foreign bodies in stomachs!), and so your vet will likely need to perform other diagnostics. This may include bloodwork and x-rays. Bloodwork will show certain abnormalities that are consistent with pancreatitis. Unfortunately, pancreatitis does not show up well on x-rays, but they will help to rule out other issues.
How is pancreatitis treated?
Your pet will likely need to be admitted to hospital for intravenous fluid therapy and supportive care. This care will include antibiotics, anti-nausea medications and pain medications as pancreatitis is a very painful disease. Your pet will have to be hospitalized until it is eating on its own and keeping the food down without vomiting. Unfortunately, in more severe cases, animals can go into shock and need blood transfusions or surgery.
What is the prognosis of pancreatitis?
The prognosis for pancreatitis depends on the severity. Many pets will recover and do well after a few days of hospitalization. However, more severe cases may require long term hospitalization to recover, and, unfortunately, some may not recover.
The best outcome results from addressing the issue right away and bringing any concerns to the attention of your veterinarian. Please call Mitchell Veterinary Services to discuss your pet’s issues.