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Pancreatitis in Dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

Pancreatitis isn’t just a human condition because the truth is, our furry companions can develop it too! But there are a few things you need to know about Pancreatitis in dogs so you can understand what to expect if your pet gets diagnosed with Pancreatitis.

The first of which is…

This will initially affect the digestive enzymes in your dog’s digestive tract, affecting how they process their food.  Now with this, you’re likely to begin specific “symptoms” that can be treated; however, the danger comes when the pancreas becomes inflamed.

This inflammation…

It will cause your pet to suffer enormously, and even worse, if it swells too much and starts pressing against other organs, this disease has the potential to be fatal.  This is why we wanted to take a moment and discuss what it’s like to have a pet develop pancreatitis so that, hopefully, you’ll have a better idea of what to look for and what to expect while treating them.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

What is Pancreatitis, and what does it do?

One of the first things you’ll want to be aware of regarding pancreatitis in dogs is that it can be a hereditary condition.  Now we say “can be” because its exact origins tend to be a bit “obscure,” but since specific dog breeds tend to be at an increased risk for developing this condition, most experts will agree that there must be some hereditary link.  One of the “best” ways to avoid this condition in your dog is to be sure that if you decide to purchase a puppy, only do so from a “reputable” breeder who can account for your pet’s parentage.

After all…

No family history of Pancreatitis indicates that your dog won’t be susceptible. You don’t have access to that information when you buy from a puppy farmer.  Now with this in mind, let’s take a moment and describe precisely what pancreatitis is.  You see, when a dog suffers from pancreatitis, what they’re suffering from is the inability to do two things:

  • excrete certain hormones
  • and create digestive enzymes.

This is because…

The pancreas is responsible for both. It is positioned within the body near the stomach and intestine so that it can easily transport these digestive enzymes to the right places…unfortunately, it is this positioning that makes the swelling so dangerous.  When the pancreas becomes inflamed or infected, it causes this organ to swell up, which in turn causes blockages in the small intestine. These “blockages” can then create pressure on the stomach to the point of agony and put your dog off his food.

Worse still…

Once the organ has inflamed, it starts to digest itself in a process known as trypsin-like immunoreactivity. These “broken-down pancreatic particles” are transferred throughout the body via the bloodstream, and these exocrine pancreatic enzymes slowly poison the dog. Amylase and Lipase are the two toxins responsible for this cruel suffering.

Which, as you can imagine, is… all bad!

Now there are two variations when it comes to discussing Pancreatitis in dogs…

  • Acute pancreatitis,
  • And chronic pancreatitis

Acute Pancreatitis in Dogs…

It is easily detected and subsequently treated, whereas the chronic type lasts for years. It is considered a degenerative condition that may ultimately lead to your dog living a shorter life.

Clinical signs of pancreatitis include:

  • Painful abdominal area,
  • Low levels of body fat,
  • Vomiting excessively because it can’t digest its food.
  • Growths or lumps in the abdomen,
  • Diarrhea,
  • Exhaustion or sedentary behavior,
  • And persistent thirst

Pancreatic insufficiency…

It is sometimes triggered by conditions like Diabetes (since the pancreas releases insulin) and Cushing’s Disease. Dogs who suffer from these conditions should get regular check-ups with their vet. Dogs with a high-fat diet are particularly predisposed towards the acute variant, so be careful what you feed your puppy!

Pancreatitis without diagnosis and treatment

Dogs suffering from pancreatitis who are not correctly diagnosed or treated don’t tend to do all that well.  Pancreatic Lipase Immunoreactivity, as it is commonly referred to, has a poor survival rate.

Now the…

The acute version is easy to treat and usually only happens once or twice throughout the pup’s life. The chronic variant almost always ends up killing the pet, regardless of treatment, which you will want to consider when choosing the extent of coverage you want to implement to save your animal.

Breeds commonly affected

Because there is a certain amount of hereditary involvement with this disease, there are a few susceptible breeds:

Terrier breeds and overweight dogs are known to be susceptible to Pancreatitis. This is one of many reasons why it is essential to monitor your dog’s diet closely.

Treatment Options

First, your vet will want to ensure that your dog does suffer from pancreatitis. To do this, they will do a series of testes and examinations, notably the Spec CPL test. This will confirm the level of lipase or amylase in the blood. Once diagnosed, they will want to start treatment immediately.


This is one of those conditions that will probably require the services of a surgeon, which almost always means that it will be a bit “pricey” to treat.  They will first want to monitor your dog for two or three days at least. They will feed them antibiotics and various other medications intravenously during this time. Your dog will also not be allowed to eat or drink while these drugs do a sort of doggy system reset and cleans out their plan.

From there…

If everything looks good, surgery may be avoidable, and with a little bit of luck, your dog may be able to be released into your care; if the condition is acute and not chronic, that is the last you will hear of it other than check-ups.  But if this initial treatment program doesn’t work, your dog may need surgery, which will complicate things quickly.

This is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet always stress how important it is to make sure that you take your pet to a qualified veterinarian the moment you feel that something might not be right with them.  Because the truth is, an early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering them, but beyond that, diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs!

Which reminds us…

I want to let you know that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals.  We are all a bunch of folks passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.

And while…

We love to help folks learn more about their animals and some of the medical conditions that they may encounter over their lifespan; there is no substitute out there than having a trained professional examine your pet firsthand and provide you with the quality care that your pet deserves.  This is also why we here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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