Pancreatitis

The pancreas is an organ that is located within the abdomen and produces and secretes digestive enzymes into the intestinal tract and manufactures insulin. When the pancreas becomes inflamed and begins to leak digestive enzymes, the resulting disease is called pancreatitis. In dogs, some cases of pancreatitis develop after an animal has eaten a meal with an abnormally high fat content. Other cases, including most that are diagnosed in cats, have no identifiable underlying cause.

 

Diagnosis

 

The pancreas is an organ that is located within the abdomen and produces and secretes digestive enzymes into the intestinal tract and manufactures insulin. When the pancreas becomes inflamed and begins to leak digestive enzymes, the resulting disease is called pancreatitis. In dogs, some cases of pancreatitis develop after an animal has eaten a meal with an abnormally high fat content. Other cases, including most that are diagnosed in cats, have no identifiable underlying cause.

 

Treatment

 

Pancreatitis can be very painful, so many animals benefit from receiving pain-relieving medications in addition to drugs that control nausea. Fluid therapy is also a very important component of treatment for pancreatitis. Dogs should not be offered food and water until their condition starts to improve, but this has not proven to be helpful and may even be harmful with feline pancreatitis. Plasma transfusions and surgery may be necessary in severe cases. Once animals begin eating again, low fat, easily digested diets are usually prescribed. Pancreatitis can be a fatal disease, but most cases resolve completely with appropriate treatment. Some dogs develop a chronic form of the disease that is characterized by intermittent flare-ups that can be minimized through a strictly controlled diet.

 

Written by: Jennifer Coates, DVM
Last reviewed: October 2, 2008