Hormonal Disorders: Pancreatitis Overview

Cause of Pancreatitis in Dogs:

Pancreatic inflammation or pancreatitis in dogs is termed as an idiopathic condition, as it can be caused by a variety of factors. Though it is the most common pancreatic disease in dogs, the exact mechanism of pathogenesis (what triggers the disease) is yet to be defined. Dietary mismanagement is considered the most common risk factor of canine pancreatitis. Trauma, injury and wounds due to abdominal surgery are considered other causative factors; which are often the result of mishandling or poor care.

Prolonged and irrelevant use of different drugs can also cause an inflammatory reaction in the pancreas. In the viewpoint of researchers, almost all drugs used on dogs can cause pancreatitis. Some drugs may be potentially more risky, if used for a long period, or repeatedly. Calcium, estrogen, salicylates, asparaginase, diuretics etc., are some examples of these types of drugs.

Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatitis in Dogs:

Dog Pancreatitis is initially associated with reduced secretions of insulin and pancreatic juices, thus dogs may experience partial anorexia (loss of appetite). Anorexia is thought to be the initiation point for pathogenesis (development of the disease), followed by other signs, such as vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, dehydration, abdominal pain and lethargy.

In severe cases, the stool may appear yellow and greasy. Other severe signs of generalized illness and abdominal pain leave dogs hunched upwards. The prognosis becomes “grave” if pancreatic juices spread to adjacent organs of the pancreas; which cause irreversible damage.

Diagnosis of Pancreatitis in Dogs:

A dog's history, clinical examination and the correlation or presence of anorexia with abdominal pain and vomiting can help in suggesting pancreatitis as the potential cause. Laboratory tests such as WBC (White blood cell) count, Blood level of different pancreatic and liver enzymes and serum biochemistry can help in confirming the presence of the disease.

In the blood, the level of pancreatic enzymes; such as amylase and lipase are elevated. The WBC level is also increased in blood circulation, which is indicative of inflammation, particularly in vital organs.

X-Rays can help to assess the degree of inflammation. The size of the pancreas and adjacent organs should also be documented to make a possible diagnosis. Exploratory laparotomy and biopsy can be ways be used to reach a definitive diagnosis, but there are risks of anesthetic stress associated with this type of approach.

Treatment of Pancreatitis in Dogs:

Fluid therapy is a timely approach used to address the complications of canine pancreatititis. This is used along with close monitoring of the development of the disease.

There are three main components of treating pancreatitis in dogs:

Vomiting is considered to be an indicator during treatment. Severely affected dogs, if they have severe vomiting, are more dehydrated and lethargic. dogs should be kept on approach called “No per Oral” or “NpO”, which means that affected dogs should not be fed anything, solid or liquid through the mouth for at least 24 hours initially and continued if needed. Dogs can be given small meals, containing high carbohydrates, and low fat, after a day or two, depending upon the response.

A typical canine pancreatitis diet which is homemade will include rice, boiled chicken and low fat beef.

Fluid therapy can help to restore water levels in the body; nutrients can also be administered through intravenous routes, in severe emetic (severe vomiting) cases.

Symptomatically, dogs can be given anti–emetic drugs, painkillers and supportive supplements. Symptomatic treatment in mild cases has been proven to be more effective. Treatment of underlying causes are necessary. If pancreatitis is due to any drug, it should be stopped at once. Similarly, any other cause like infection, toxins or any other factors requiring treatment should be continued as per a definite diagnosis.

There is a homeopathic product available that can be used as a supportive therapy in addition to those prescribed by your veterinarian. Pancreas Booster contains natural ingredients that are associated with pancreatic health including Bromelain (contains protein digesting enzymes),Papain (helps to break down meat fibers) and Gymnema (promotes normal levels of sugar in the blood.