|The 7 symptoms of pancreatitis|
There are some chances you know little about the pancreas.
It’s not the most well-known organ.
But it’s vital!
No mammal, including humans, can live without it. But, surprisingly, pancreatitis – i.e. an inflammation of the pancreas – is a common condition in dogs. It may cause diabetes and can induce severe digestive problems.
What is the pancreas
The pancreas is a large gland located just below the stomach and very close to the proximal part of the small intestine, the duodenum.
The pancreas is a remarkable organ in the way it has 2 roles: endocrine and exocrine.
When does pancreatitis occur
Pancreatitis occurs when trypsinogen is activated – i.e. transformed into trypsin – too early, when it is still in the pancreas and not yet arrived in the intestines.
Instead of breaking down food proteins, trypsin attacks the pancreas itself thus destroying cells and inducing inflammation .
The causes of pancreatitis have not been fully elucidated yet. But, scientists have identified some risk factors such as obesity, Cushing disease, and hypothyroidism. Some breeds seem to be more exposed to pancreatitis: Schnauzers, cavalier King Charles spaniels, Cocker spaniels, Shelties, Poodles, Yorkshire terriers, Dachshunds, and sled dogs.
As pancreatitis is one of the main causes of diabetes in dogs, it should be no surprise to often (30%) find it in diabetic dogs.
Of course, aging dogs are more exposed.
What a pancreatitis looks like in my dog
An acute phase of pancreatitis typically occurs when a dog ate food with high fat content which was not intended to him. He could have found it in the garbage or eaten the leftovers of his masters’ meals. He could also have ingested toxic chemical substances.
Pancreatitis may be an adverse event of some drugs .
As a result, the dog becomes lethargic, he vomits and/or has diarrhea. He doesn’t let you touch his belly.
It’s time to visit the vet.
She will look for the following symptoms:
Vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and dehydration are linked together and are caused by the inability to digest food.
Abdominal pain is a direct consequence of the inflammation in the pancreas region and fever comes from a secondary infection.
What your vet will do
If the symptoms are severe, the dog will need emergency care with fluids, anti-emetic drugs and painkillers.
The next step is to make the diagnosis, which is not straightforward. Abdominal pain is the most typical symptom of pancreatitis. And your vet will definitely put pancreatitis on her list of the possible diseases.
But all the other symptoms may be found in many other diseases . They won’t help much.
This is why she will necessarily perform at least 2 complementary exams:
For greater certainty, your vet may propose you she performs a biopsy. It consists of taking a sample of pancreas tissue in your dog. Needle biopsy is a simple and well tolerated procedure. It is reliable .
For the least severe manifestations of the disease, the prognosis is good.
It is important that the animal starts to eat again as soon as possible. For this purpose, anti-emetic drugs may be prescribed.
On the long run, the treatment is dietary. It consists of a diet with very low fat content.