Pancreatitis is the swelling and inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is a gland organ which helps to further break down carbohydrates and proteins in the body.

Pancreatitis can come in many different forms, depending on the degree of severity for the dog. The reason for dogs spontaneously contracting pancreatitis is unknown currently, but it is quite often related to overweight spayed females or males who have a high in fat and unhealthy diet.

There is also a higher level of risk for dogs who are on medicated corticosteroids, dogs with diabetes and dogs with cushing syndrome. For those dogs who have pancreatitis and do not suffer with any of those other diseases, the onset of pancreatitis can occur from something as small and non-threatening as eating a fatty meal or table scraps.

Acute pancreatitis can be recognised when one or more of these symptoms appear;

  • Vomiting- a sudden onslaught of severe vomiting can be one of the many symptoms of pancreatitis. The vomiting does not have to appear to have any reasoning behind it and can quite quickly become unmanageable.

  • Pain- Strong and unbearable abdominal pain can also accompany the vomiting. The abdominal pain occurs through the release of the digestive enzymes into the surrounding tissue areas. The dog being clearly uncomfortable and restless is a sign of pancreatitis, and any sounds of discomfort that they make can also be a sign that something is not right. One of the most common positions to see a dog in pain in is a prayer position, rear end up and legs out, trying to stretch the abdominal area.

  • Diarrhea can also follow these symptoms, which in turn will lead to dehydration and invariably shock.

Mild pancreatitis is diagnosed when a dog is suffering from the following;

  • Loss of appetite-if a dog noticeably goes off their food, then it can be quite a strong indication that it may be suffering from a mild form of pancreatitis.

  • Depression- a dog suffering from clear lethargy and a generally miserable disposition can be a dog who is suffering from pancreatitis. While depression cannot be clearly defined as a symptom of any illness, a good dog owner who knows and loves their dog will be able to notice a considerable difference in their behaviour and attitude.

  • Vomiting- a dog suffering with mild pancreatitis can also suffer from sporadic vomiting. It is not as serious as a dog suffering with acute pancreatitis and it also is not as often, yet it still causes discomfort.

The other type of pancreatitis is a nearly always fatal form of acute pancreatitis called fulminant necrotizing pancreatitis. Within several hours of showing mild symptoms, ranging from clear discomfort or vomiting, a dog can go straight into shock and die shortly afterwards. The only recommended treatment for a dog displaying these symptoms is to book an emergency call with your veterinary.

For dogs suffering from all forms of pancreatitis, a veterinary consultation is requisite to ensure that any of the illnesses which accompany the disease do not cause any lasting damage to the dog and to make sure that they do not go into shock. It is always recommended to take out insurance on your pet to avoid any unexpected problems.