The pancreas manages two core functions in our body – it controls the levels of insulin produced and it produces essential digestive enzymes like amylase, lipase, protease. Pancreatitis in dogs has become quite common because of their poor quality lifestyle and diet.
Pancreatitis in Dogs
A study conducted in 2010 showed that there are about 50% dogs and cats either have a mild form of pancreatitis or have had pancreatitis at some point in their life. It is a scary reality and we have to give them a good diet to prevent pancreatitis.
There are also types of pancreatitis like mild, acute, fatal, recurring etc and some breeds are predisposed to the condition. Those breeds are:
- Miniature Poodle
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Cocker Spaniel
Recently, pancreatitis is also seen in breeds other than the ones mentioned above. Additionally, female dogs, senior dogs and overweight dogs are prone to the condition. Dogs that have had pancreatitis once may have the condition again.
Dogs with pancreatitis may show certain symptoms like:
- Lack of appetite
- Weakness in their hind legs
- Sluggishness – they be slow to move and unwilling to climb on beds and cars like the used to
- Abdominal pain – they may whine or be agitated if you come near their belly
If your doctor suspects pancreatitis, they may ask you to do the PLI test. It is a blood test that is used to measure the amount of lipase produced by the pancreas. If the levels are elevated, they are most likely to have pancreatitis. Other tests doctors might suggest are SNAP cPL test or an X-Ray.
These tests are usually enough to find out if your dog has pancreatitis.
The treatment may vary depending on the severity of the condition and the source of the condition. Some dogs may even require hospitalisation and drips to hydrate them and add electrolytes. Others are sent home with strong medication.
The main treatment for pancreatitis includes a high fibre diet with little fat and healthy carbs. An inflamed pancreas is very painful which is why the doctor may recommend some pain meds. They also need proper dietary supplements because the inflamed pancreas cannot provide all dietary enzymes when it’s inflamed.
Picky eaters often have trouble adjusting to the new diet. Hence they are often fed with a tube. Pet parents are also asked to hydrate their dog to facilitate digestion. If your dog doesn’t like to drink water we would recommend adding a bit of (unflavoured) chicken broth to their water. The smell of chicken usually encourages dogs to drink. Any meat broth of your dog’s liking should do the trick.
Pancreatitis is also the leading cause for diabetes and Cushing’s Disease. So, if your dog is diagnosed with Pancreatitis, we would highly recommend that you regularly do blood sugar and hormone tests every 6 months.
Cure And Prevention
The current lifestyle and dietary habits have made pancreatitis the common cold for our lovely canines. Pancreatitis occurs because the body is too stressed. Dogs today are eating way too many grains and processed food which puts too much pressure on the pancreas to produce more insulin and digestive enzymes.
As we said earlier, doctors will cure the condition with proper supplementation and hydration techniques. However, pancreatitis takes a toll on their health. It makes the pancreas weaker and invites a host of other health problems, so, you must make some severe lifestyle changes.
Even after all the healthy habits included in their life, their chances of getting pancreatitis again increases greatly. So, you must conduct regular checkups.
The main prevention for the condition is to ensure they have a high fibre diet, moderate protein and low-fat diet. If they have high amounts of fats you need to make sure they have an active lifestyle so that they can burn all those calories.
Please give them food that stimulates the production of dietary enzymes like amylase, lipase, protease.
Lean white meat is always a better option than red meat. Always choose a company that provides your dog with organic formulas that use real vegetables, and unprocessed meat.
If you plan to give home-cooked red meat, please make sure to drain out all the fat to make it easy on the pancreas. You must thoroughly cook all vegetables before giving it to them.
Other than diet, you must also make sure they get enough exercise. Exercise helps them burn calories and this reduces the pressure on the pancreas.
If your dog is genetically predisposed to pancreatitis, you must keep them on a strict diet and agile lifestyle. When they become 6 years of age, please make sure to conduct yearly checkups to make sure they have a healthy pancreas.
Lastly, pancreatitis is a serious disease and it must not be taken for granted. A part of being a responsible pet parent is to know when to say no, no matter how sweetly those eyes look at you begging for more food!