If your furry friend is under the weather due to pancreatitis, it might help to know that it's one of the most common pancreatic diseases in dogs. The outlook for mild cases is good, but pancreatitis can become severe, so you need to know what to look for.
Educating yourself will help you learn how to comfort a dog with pancreatitis. If your furry family member needs extra support, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Don't worry, reading our guide will put you at ease and teach you how to comfort your dog along the path toward better health.
In this guide, you'll learn everything you need to know about pancreatitis in dogs, including causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
1. What Is Pancreatitis in Dogs?
First, let's take a look at the details of pancreatitis so you can better understand what it's all about.
Pancreatitis is an inflammatory disease that is common in cats and dogs. It affects an essential organ known as the pancreas. The pancreas is in the abdomen and produces critical enzymes that your dog's body uses for food digestion.
These enzymes also help regulate blood sugar and metabolism. When the pancreas gets inflamed, it's known as pancreatitis.
There are two types of pancreatitis: acute and chronic.
1.1 Acute Pancreatitis
With acute pancreatitis, your dog will have a sudden onset of severe pain and vomiting, along with other symptoms.
If the inflammation is severe enough, it can allow digestive enzymes in the pancreas to spill into the abdomen. This can cause damage to the intestine, liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts.
Acute pancreatitis can also be mild if your dog doesn't have much inflammation. In this case, your pup will have milder symptoms that will resolve quickly.
1.2 Chronic Pancreatitis
Chronic pancreatitis is usually less severe and dogs who've had acute pancreatitis tend to have this. With chronic pancreatitis, your dog may have symptoms that come and go.
Most of the time, these symptoms are mild. However, chronic bouts of pancreatitis can lead to chronic inflammation and structural changes in the pancreas.
Chronic pancreatitis is less common than acute pancreatitis, and can also become acute when symptoms flare up. Sometimes, pancreatic cancer in dogs can cause chronic pancreatitis and inflammation. However, this isn't something you should worry about, especially if your dog has been to the vet for an evaluation.
2. What Are the Signs of Pancreatitis in Dogs?
Symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs can vary and are often mistaken for other illnesses. Knowing what to look for will help you detect pancreatitis early on.
Remember, pancreatitis can be chronic or acute, so the symptoms vary depending on which one your dog has. Acute pancreatitis symptoms in dogs can become severe and include:
- Severe tiredness or lethargy
- Abdominal pain
- Persistent vomiting and diarrhea
Dogs with acute pancreatitis may also stand in a "praying position." You'll notice your dog stands with its front legs and head lowered, and rear end up in the air.
You'll find chronic pancreatitis symptoms tend to be a bit different. Your dog may have abdominal pain on and off. They may also act tired and lethargic, but many times this isn't constant with chronic pancreatitis. You might also notice vomiting, diarrhea, and a decreased appetite.
Overall, recognizing these signs of pancreatitis in dogs early will allow you to provide the comfort your dog needs.
3. What Causes Pancreatitis in Dogs?
In many cases, the cause of pancreatitis isn't known and seems to come out of nowhere. So, if this is the case for your dog, you shouldn't worry.
However, it's important to be aware of the established causes of pancreatitis since it will help you understand more about the condition. It will also allow you to check your house for possible toxins that your dog may have access to.
Let's start by looking at the different types of causes your vet will consider, which include:
3.1 What Toxins Cause Pancreatitis in Dogs?
First, any medication or toxin can cause the inflammation process to occur in your dog's pancreas.
Some examples include antibiotics, steroid therapies, or chemotherapy medications.
Household and environmental toxins have also been linked to pancreatitis in dogs. These toxins include zinc, which can irritate your dog's gastrointestinal tract.
Dogs that ingest zinc can develop vomiting, diarrhea, and depression. Zinc poisoning can also cause low red blood cell counts or anemia in your dog since it damages red blood cells.
Certain plants like lilies can also cause pancreatitis. Most lily species like the tiger, stargazer, and calla are harmful to dogs because they contain alkaloids that damage red blood cells.
While not every lily is toxic, if you find your dog having a lily lunch, it's best to address this with your vet.
3.2 What Foods Can Cause Pancreatitis in Dogs?
You may already know that chocolate is a huge no-no for your furry companion, but you may not know exactly why.
Chocolate contains a high amount of fat which can trigger pancreatitis. At the same time, it can also trigger chocolate toxicity which has similar symptoms as pancreatitis. These symptoms include:
- Increased thirst
Your dog can also have other chocolate toxicity symptoms like hyperactivity, muscle tremors, and abnormal walking.
The key is knowing these symptoms so you can identify them early and take your dog to the vet.
Other foods that can trigger pancreatitis in dogs involve fatty foods like bacon, fat scraps, gravy, and turkey (especially if your dog eats the skin). Also, walnuts, nuts, and peanuts are high in fat, making them toxic for your dog.
This is why you must watch your little ninja dog carefully if it happens to get in the trash and gobble up those fatty table scraps.
3.3 What Can Trigger Pancreatitis in Dogs?
Certain things can trigger pancreatitis in dogs which are not always in your control. First, certain breeds have a genetic predisposition to pancreatitis like:
- Cocker spaniels
- Miniature schnauzers
- Some terriers
- Smaller toy breeds
While this doesn't mean pancreatitis is a guarantee if you have one of these dog breeds, it does mean being on alert for any symptoms. It's also a good idea to talk to your vet about your dog's genetic risk factors.
Obesity is another risk factor for pancreatitis, and the good news is this is something you can work on with your dog.
Sometimes medical conditions like high levels of cholesterol or hormonal imbalances like low thyroid levels can trigger pancreatitis in your dog.
4. How Long Does Pancreatitis Last in Dogs?
Your dog's recovery time depends on how severe their pancreatitis is. Typically, your dog will need to stay in the hospital between 2 and 4 days for a milder case of pancreatitis.
For more severe cases, some dogs may need to stay in the hospital between 1 and 2 weeks.
Your dog may also need 1 to 2 weeks to recover once all the major symptoms have resolved.
5. Diagnosing Pancreatitis in Dogs
Diagnosing pancreatitis in our furry friends can be tricky, and it's normal for your dog to need various tests throughout this process. These tests include:
5.1 Physical Exam and Bloodwork
Your vet will usually begin by assessing the symptoms your dog is experiencing and performing a physical exam. Your vet will also do bloodwork to check blood sugar, organ function, and specific pancreatic enzymes.
5.2 Ultrasound and X-rays
Ultrasounds and X-rays are helpful since they can show inflammation and other changes in the pancreas. These tests also help in ruling out any other conditions that may be causing your dog's symptoms.
An ultrasound is the best imaging method to diagnose pancreatitis, but the pancreas has to be abnormal enough to visualize. This is what makes pancreatitis tough to diagnose.
6. How to Treat Pancreatitis in Dogs
The treatment your furry friend will need depends on how severe the pancreatitis is.
Remember that your vet will recommend the best treatment for your dog, and the best thing you can do during the treatment process is take it day by day. Your dog will appreciate your calm presence during treatment.
The common treatment for pancreatitis in dogs includes:
6.1 Mild and Chronic Forms of Acute Pancreatitis
Whether your dog has mild acute or chronic pancreatitis, your vet will typically start with IV fluid therapy. This will address any dehydration issues your dog may be having. Your vet may also have you continue this fluid therapy at home if you're comfortable doing so.
In addition, your dog may need anti-nausea medication to help with stomach upset. Stomach protectants are also helpful in decreasing acid buildup and will help your furry friend feel better.
Finally, your dog may also need a pain reliever for a short period.
Your vet will also review your dog's diet and make changes as necessary, especially if there is too much fat.
6.2 Acute and Severe Pancreatitis
If your dog has a severe case of acute pancreatitis, they may need to stay in the hospital for a few days. In some cases, the stay may extend to a week or more.
Treatment for severe pancreatitis includes:
- Constant IV fluids
- Replacing electrolytes
- Pain medications
- Stomach protectant medications
- Nutritional support
- Feeding tubes
Once you bring your pet home, you'll need to continue with a low-fat bland diet until all symptoms resolve.
Even after symptoms resolve, your dog should continue with a low-fat diet. Your vet may also want you to learn how to give IV fluids at home to continue giving hydration support.
7. How to Prevent Pancreatitis in Dogs
Prevention is key and a huge component of comforting your furry companion during this time. You'll need to take specific prevention steps that include:
7.1 Keep Table Scraps Away
The first thing you need to do is ensure Fido doesn't have access to any table scraps. Remember, many pups will gobble up any food that's in sight.
So keep your kitchen counters clear of any fatty treats or foods. Seal your trash lid tightly to avoid any break-ins. The last thing you want is your dog getting into fatty scraps you have in the trash.
7.2 Keep Your Dog's Weight Down
Just like us humans, your dog needs to watch its waistline as well. The first part of this is keeping your pet mobile. Older dogs with mobility issues can benefit from various CBD products.
For example, some dog breeds tend to get hip dysplasia which can lead to joint degeneration and wear and tear. This will seriously limit your dog's mobility and you'll have a tough time establishing an exercise routine.
Bailey's Hip & Joint Soft Chews are a great option since they have naturally occurring CBD. CBD is known to have anti-inflammatory properties and can help decrease joint inflammation.
Other healthy ingredients like glucosamine help your dog's body produce chemicals key to building cartilage and joint fluid.
7.3 Provide High-Quality Food, Healthy Fats, and Supplements
A huge part of keeping your dog's weight in check is providing high-quality, low-fat food.
Be sure to talk to your vet about specific diet recommendations before switching food suddenly. Most dogs need a transition period to avoid stomach upset, so you'll need to do this slowly.
Healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids are essential. Adding Bailey's Hemp CBD Soft Chews gives your pup a blend of omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 which naturally occur in CBD. This will ensure your dog gets enough essential fats in their daily diet.
CBD also supports digestive health overall, which makes CBD for dogs a great preventative option. It plays a vital role in overall well-being and inflammation levels. This will ultimately reduce inflammation levels in the stomach and digestive tract, which is key to prevention.
8. Learning How to Comfort a Dog With Pancreatitis
Now that you know more about pancreatitis, knowing how to comfort a dog with pancreatitis will be much easier. The best thing you can do is ensure your furry patient gets plenty of rest and avoids strenuous activities.
Along with consulting with your veterinarian, you'll find supplementing with natural alternatives like Bailey's CBD oil can provide major benefits.
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