The pancreas has two vital functions:
- To produce digestive enzymes to assist in food digestion
- To produce hormones such as insulin
When the pancreas becomes inflamed, the disorder is called pancreatitis. The disease is commonly seen in dogs and all dogs can be affected.
Inflammation allows digestive enzymes to spill into the abdominal cavity resulting in secondary damage to the liver, bile ducts, gall bladder & intestines.
What causes pancreatitis?
The cause is largely unkown. It is often associated with eating a rich, fatty meal or the use of corticosteroids, although some dogs with pancreatitis have never been exposed to either.
What are the clinical signs of pancreatitis?
The disease is typically manifested by nausea, vomiting, fever, abdominal pain & diarrhoea. Pancreatitis ranges from mild disease with occasional vomiting to full haemorhagic gastroenteritis and death. The disease can be chronic or recurrent. The diagnosis of pancreatitis is normally based on three criteria: Clinical Signs, Laboratory tests, Radiograph/Ultrasound examination.
How is Pancreatitis treated?
Most dogs with pancreatitis are hospitalised while intravenous fluids are administered and food is gradually re-introduced. Pain relief is administered to alleviate abdominal pain.
Will my dog recover?
The prognosis depends on the extent of the disease when presented and a favourable response to initial therapy. Most of the mild forms of pancreatitis have a good prognosis if treated early. Long-term complications may include a lack of proper food digestion or diabetes. Special diets my be necessary in these cases. Dogs that present with shock and depression have a guarded prognosis and require intensive treatment.