Dog sitting on couch.

The pancreas is an organ that creates digestive enzymes and is responsible for the production of insulin.  A healthy pancreas is vital for breaking down the sugars, fats, and starches in your pet’s diet, as well as maintaining the body’s blood glucose (sugar) levels. Acute pancreatitis is what we call the sudden inflammation of the pancreas. When this happens, the pancreas is flooded with digestive enzymes that normally remain inactive until they reach the small intestine. This can result in:

  • Pain and swelling of the abdomen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
  • Low energy
  • Gagging 

Because these symptoms can be caused by a wide range of less serious issues, pancreatitis may not be the most obvious prognosis.  Pay close attention if your dog is vomiting and suffering from lack of appetite for more than a couple of days. It’s important to consult a veterinarian if any of these symptoms are persistent. 

Pancreatitis Can Be Life-Threatening If Left Undiagnosed

It is very important to consult a veterinarian immediately and avoid any home remedies which may exacerbate the problem. As always, guidance from a licenced medical professional is the best course of action. 

Some dog breeds such as schnauzers, miniature poodles, as well as older dogs are more likely to suffer from pancreatitis. Typically, a high-fat diet or fatty table scraps are the culprit. Vets regularly see dogs for acute pancreatitis following the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Pet owners may think they’re showing their furry bud a little extra holiday love by feeding them table scraps or sneaking a  fatty piece of roast beef under the table. Dogs who have access to trash cans, or dogs who brazenly attempt to steal bacon off the counter, are much more likely to suffer from acute pancreatitis due to the sudden increase of fat in their diet. 

Your veterinarian will typically perform a thorough physical exam as well as take a complete medical history to rule out any side effects caused by medication. We may require electrolyte tests and blood tests to form a diagnosis. If we determine your dog has pancreatitis, we may recommend a treatment plan which can vary depending on the severity of the case. Intravenous fluids, pain medication, and anti vomiting medication are all common. 

Taking the following steps may be extremely helpful in preventing and limiting the risk of your dog developing acute pancreatitis: 

  • Portion control and weight management
  • Avoid feeding your dog table scraps.
  • Healthy low-fat diets
  • Limit access to trash cans 
  • Avoid leaving bacon on the counter 

With treatment, most dogs with mild cases of pancreatitis recover without any long-term complications. However, more serious complications such as diabetes can arise following severe episodes or repeated cases.  Keep a close eye on your pet, and consult your veterinarian immediately if you notice any worrying symptoms. 

Our team at Evendale-Blue Ash Hospital is always here for you and your pet. 

Please call us at 513-563-0410 with any questions or concerns about your dog’s health and wellness.