Canine Pancreatitis Diagnosis

Canine pancreatitis is the name given to a sudden inflammation that develops in the pancreas. The pancreas is located behind the stomach and the duodenum, and is responsible for the production of insulin and digestive enzymes. Due to various factors such as trauma, obesity or medications, these digestive enzymes surround the organs, including the pancreas, and cause pancreatitis.

Function of the Pancreas

The pancreas performs two glandular functions. It produces insulin that’s essential for the metabolism of sugars in the body and produces digestive enzymes that facilitate the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. The symptoms of pancreatitis generally involve gastrointestinal disorders due to the proximity of the pancreas to the stomach.

Symptoms of Canine Pancreatitis:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Depression
  • Fever

Types of Canine Pancreatitis

The two types of pancreatitis are acute and chronic pancreatitis. Dogs suffering from acute pancreatitis can be treated with medication, and the inflammation doesn’t cause severe damage to the pet’s internal organs. Chronic pancreatitis is likely to develop periodically, even though treatment is administered. Pets suffering from chronic pancreatitis require more medical care and attention.

Diagnosis of Canine Pancreatitis

In order to obtain a proper diagnosis the vet will carefully consider the clinical symptoms exhibited by the pet. A blood test is performed to determine any change in the amount of white blood cells present. Pets suffering from pancreatitis generally have an elevated number of white blood cells. A blood test can also determine the levels of pancreatic enzymes present. The two pancreatic enzymes that are detected in the blood are lipase and amylase. Dogs suffering from pancreatitis show increased levels of pancreatic enzymes.

Vets are also using a new form of testing to diagnose pancreatitis in pets. The test is known as a serum cPLI test that measures the amount of serum pancreatic lipase to determine pancreatic function. Although research is still establishing an appropriate serum cPLI range, the recommended range falls between 2.2 to 102.1 ug/L. Dogs with a serum cPLI more than 200 ug/L are diagnosed with pancreatitis.

Other Diagnostic Tests

The vet will also perform an abdominal ultrasound or x-ray to determine any abnormalities present in and around the pancreas. A biopsy may be performed at the discretion of vet, even though it's not conducted on every pet.

Treatment of Canine Pancreatitis

Pets suffering from mild pancreatitis will not be given food for several hours. Although this is difficult to undertake, it allows the pancreas to stop producing digestive enzymes and in turn reduces inflammation. Some pets will require diet food for life. Diets high in carbohydrates and low in fats are beneficial to pets suffering from pancreatitis. IV fluid supplementation could also be necessary to prevent electrolyte imbalance. Pancreatitis that’s caused by a known factor will subside once the underlying condition is treated. The vet can also prescribe anti-nausea or pain medication to bring relief from the symptoms.

Since pancreatitis most commonly occurs in pets that consume high fat food, it’s important to maintain a proper diet and incorporate exercise in order to prevent a relapse.