Animal Pancreatitis Treatments Tucson AZ

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Canine Feline Pancreatitis: MyPetED Vet on Pancreatitis in Dogs, Cats

By Ernest Ward, DVM

What is pancreatitis in dogs and cats?MyPetED Image: Pancreatitis in Dogs and Cats

  • Pancreatitis is inflammation (swelling and pain) of the pancreas — an important organ that produces enzymes to help with food digestion and regulating blood sugar levels. The pancreas is located on the right side of the abdomen, next to the stomach.
  • In a healthy pet, pancreatic enzymes are “inactive” as they travel to the small intestine. Then they become active to help with digestion.
  • With pancreatitis, these enzymes become activate too soon, so they begin to digest before they should… causing the inflammation.
  • The swelling causes digestive enzymes to spill into the abdominal cavity. This can cause damage to the stomach lining and surrounding organs, such as the liver, bile ducts, gall bladder, and intestines.
  • Sudden (acute) pancreatitis can be mild or severe. If it recurs in a dog or cat, it’s called chronic pancreatitis.

Are certain dogs and cats more likely to get pancreatitis?

  • Pancreatitis happens more frequently in dogs than in cats, but there’s no particular age, sex or breed connection (although it does seem to occur more frequently in Miniature Schnauzers).
  • In fact, the exact cause isn’t known.
  • Pancreatitis may be triggered by a fatty meal or corticosteroid administration.
  • But quite often, it occurs spontaneously without a known trigger.

What are the symptoms of pancreatitis?MyPetED Image: Symptoms of Canine and Feline Pancreatitis include vomiting

The symptoms of pancreatitis are common to many other diseases, so it’s important to call your veterinarian if your pet exhibits these signs:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Lethargy (lack of energy)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite

During an attack, your dog may appear to take a "praying position," with his rear end up in the air while the front legs and head are lowered onto the floor.

A severe attack could be extremely dangerous, with sudden shock or even death occurring.

How does my vet diagnose pancreatitis in dogs and cats?MyPetED Image: Canine and Feline Pancreatitis is diagnosed through blood tests, x-rays and other tests.

  • Your veterinarian asks about symptoms and the patient’s medical history.
  • The he or she runs a Complete Blood Count and Biochemistry Profile to screen your pet for abnormalities related to pancreatitis.
  • Your vet may also run a specific and highly accurate pancreatic test based on pancreatic enzyme levels in the blood. (However, some pets with pancreatitis may not have elevated levels.)
  • X-rays and ultrasound views may show changes associated with inflammation.
  • Unfortunately, a pancreatitis diagnosis may not be definite after these tests, so your vet may need to treat a possible diagnosis.

Can pancreatitis be treated with success?

  • It can be successful, depending on the timing of your pet’s diagnosis, plus your pet’s condition and prompt treatment.
  • In a mild case, withholding food and water can help the pancreas rest and heal itself while your vet does any or all of the following:
    • Your vet will provide intravenous fluids during this rest period to maintain normal f...

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