Chronic Pancreatitis in Dogs

Chronic pancreatitis in dogs is a recurring condition in which the normal enzymes in the pancreas malfunction due to inflammation. The enzymes begin to digest the pancreas itself, as well as the surrounding organs, resulting in severe pain and other harmful side effects. Chronic pancreatitis is defined as multiple and ongoing attacks of acute pancreatitis, which lead to irreversible damage to the digestive system.

Causes of Pancreatitis in Dogs

Most times the cause of pancreatitis in dogs is unknown, but there are a number of risk factors that are associated with chronic pancreatitis. Though pancreatitis can commonly occur in any dog, for any number of reasons, a slightly higher incidence is reported in female dogs, and dogs that are older or obese. Bacterial or viral infections can sometimes lead to pancreatitis in dogs, as can certain drugs or toxins, contaminated food or water, diabetes and high-fat foods. Often, a higher number of cases is reported during the holiday season, when dogs are 'treated' with high-fat foods and desserts. Certain dog breeds are more susceptible to pancreatitis. Schnauzers appear to have a genetic susceptibility to the disease, while Cocker Spaniels, Miniature Poodles, and Yorkshire and Silky Terriers tend to be more predisposed as well.

Symptoms of Pancreatitis in Dogs

Symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs, like causes of the condition, are non-specific. Normally, onset of pancreatitis will cause typical signs of gastrointestinal upset like vomiting, diarrhea, fever, dehydration, abdominal pain and loss of appetite. If pancreatitis is suspected, especially in the case of chronic recurrence, blood tests can be performed to check pancreatic enzymes.

Treatment of Pancreatitis in Dogs

The only way for the pancreas to heal from this condition is by resting from its normal, heavy-duty digestive functions. In order to achieve this, no food or water can be consumed by mouth for approximately 1 to 5 days, depending upon the severity. The dog should be provided with nutritional needs and pain relief, if necessary, using fluid therapy. Once the pancreas appears to be healing itself, small quantities of bland food can then be given. It's encouraged to introduce a low fat, high fiber diet to prevent further recurrence of chronic pancreatitis.

Chronic Pancreatitis

Acute pancreatitis generally happens once and can be extremely severe, potentially causing death. Chronic pancreatitis is frequently milder, but is defined by ongoing acute attacks. Chronic pancreatitis leads to progressively more severe side effects, because each time there is an attack, the pancreas is subjected to additional damage. Since symptoms of pancreatitis are difficult to pinpoint, it's important to recognize subsequent attacks more quickly. Rapid treatment of the disease will limit the damage done to the organs. Also, dietary management is strongly recommended in dogs with chronic pancreatitis. Limiting the amount of high-fat foods and treats given will benefit the dog. Prescription diets are also available at local pet stores online. These diets are designed specifically for dogs who require lower fat content or increased fiber, due to chronic or incurable diseases.