The pancreas is a fairly small organ that resides in the upper abdomen. Most of the time, we forget it is there, but when it is unhappy, it can be quite hard to ignore. Pancreatitis in pets can be painful and make our furry friends pretty sick. At MarketPlace Veterinary Hospital, we think it’s important that pet owners know about pancreatitis in pets and how to prevent it.
Identifying Pancreatitis in Pets
Pancreatitis is simply inflammation of the pancreas, an important organ that aids in digestion by releasing enzymes and insulin. When the pancreas is inflamed, the enzymes that normally are released to break down food are released within the organ itself, acting on the body’s tissues. This can cause some fairly dramatic problems.
When pancreatitis occurs, it can be fairly mild, very extreme, or anything in between. Symptoms may include:
- Decreased or absent appetite
- Lethargy or depression
- Abdominal pain (sometimes manifested in odd postures)
- Nausea and/or vomiting
Unfortunately, many of these symptoms may be caused by other health conditions as well. It is not possible to identify pancreatitis in pets based on symptoms alone. If your pet is experiencing these types of issues, contact us right away so that we can get started diagnosing and helping.
Avoiding Trouble and Treating It When It Can’t Be
Pancreatitis in pets can occur when physical damage to the organ happens, such as after a traumatic accident or handling during a surgery. Disease conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high calcium, and thyroid imbalances may also cause a pancreas to be more sensitive. There is likely also some genetic predisposition to pancreatitis as certain breeds like miniature schnauzers are at higher risk.
Sometimes pancreatitis can’t be prevented, and sometimes we don’t know what brings it on. There are times, though, where we can point a finger at something we can control: diet.
We know that rich, fatty meals can trigger pancreatitis in pets, especially those at high risk or who have had pancreatitis before.
Avoid pancreatitis in pets by:
- Not sharing food from the table with your pet
- Offering low-fat options as treats
- Reminding houseguests not to feed your pet
- Keeping kitchen scraps, trash, and special pet treats in a location secure from your animals
- Being vigilant about pet safety during holidays and gatherings where food may be on tables and counters (consider confining your pet during these events)
- Feeding a recommended prescription diet if recommended by our vets for those patients with a history of pancreatitis
When pets do develop pancreatitis, treatment is supportive. In milder situations, outpatient therapy with pain medication, anti-nausea medication, and special diet may be sufficient. In more serious cases, hospitalization for pain management and fluid therapy may be necessary.
While pancreatitis in pets can be quite serious, most pets recover with appropriate care. Pancreatitis is a pet emergency, though, and requires prompt treatment.
Pancreatitis in pets can be serious business, but as with all pet problems, our team is here to help you through it and to help your favorite furry family member feel better soon.