Pancreatitis: How it Can Affect Your Pet

Pancreatitis Affects Your Pet and You

The pancreas has many functions, including the production and secretion of digestive enzymes and the production of insulin. Digestive enzymes are critical for food digestion, while insulin aids in the control of the metabolism and blood-sugar levels. Pancreatitis means “inflammation” of the pancreas and acute means “sudden.” When the pancreas becomes inflamed, digestive enzymes that are normally inactive until they reach the small intestine become active in the pancreas instead—resulting in pain and swelling as the pancreas actually begins to digest itself.

Helpful Breakdown

There are also two variations of pancreatitis that describe the length of time which your dog has suffered from the condition: acute and chronic.

Acute pancreatitis is when the condition is sudden in onset, and there is no previous sign of the condition existing.

Chronic pancreatitis is when pancreatitis occurs over a period of time.

When the condition occurs suddenly in a dog, it takes many owners by surprise, and it can also cause a considerable amount of pain for the affected dog.


The most common symptoms of acute pancreatitis in dogs are:

  • Loss of appetite

  • Vomiting 

  • Abdominal pain

  •  Lethargy

Quick Action

If you suspect pancreatitis in your dog, the first thing you should do is to ensure that your dog is in a stable condition. The next thing you want to do is to get your dog to your regular veterinarian. If your dog begins to display signs of the condition when your veterinarian is not on duty, your vet clinic may have a vet on call. Otherwise, they will refer you to an emergency vet’s office. it is crucial that you act quickly if you do suspect the condition as it can worsen.


Your veterinarian will take a complete history and perform a thorough physical exam. Additionally, diagnostic tests will be required to identify if your dog has acute pancreatitis. These may include:

  • Chemistry tests to evaluate kidney, liver, and pancreatic disease or dysfunction, as well as blood sugar levels

  • A complete blood count to screen your pet for infection, inflammation, or anemia and other blood-related conditions

  • Electrolyte tests to ensure your dog is neither dehydrated nor suffering from an electrolyte imbalance

  • Pancreas-specific tests to help diagnose or rule out the disease

  • Imagaing studies to evalutate the pancreas and other abdominal organs


Hospital stays are required for this condition to be adjusted and to make your pet become more comfortable. Treatment is typically as follows but there is always a need for adjusting per your pets condition and severity:

  • Intravenous (IV) fluid therapy 

  • Vigorous monitoring of a worsening condition

  • Antiemetic medication for vomiting (to prevent dehydration)

  • Resting the pancreas (withholding food and water for 24 hours)

Keep in mind that your veterinarian may recommend that some diagnostic tests, such as the CBC, chemistry tests, and pancreatic-specific tests be repeated to monitor your dog’s progress during treatment.


As a responsible pet owner who cares about their dog, there are a number of things that you can do to help reduce the chance that your dog will experience a repeat episode of pancreatitis.

While you can’t completely prevent acute pancreatitis, the following will help reduce the risk of your dog developing the disease and ensure his health and well-being:

  • Don’t let your dog become overweight—weight management a very important resposibility, so take care of our four-legged friends

  • Avoid high-fat diets

  • Avoid giving your dog table scraps, especially if he isn’t accustomed to eating people food.


Our furry four-legged friends are a very important part of our lives. Prevention, treatment and care is a welcome job for owners. Keep your loved ones safe and loved!

Pancreatitis dog 2




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