Dog Pancreas Problems

Dog pancreas problems can be serious and lead to devastating health problems or even death. The dog pancreas is responsible for a number of functions in helping to keep the digestive system in order and working properly. Diseases and infections can hinder the ability of the pancreas, leading to other health problems and deficiencies,

Common conditions that can directly affect functionality of the pancreas are diabetes and pancreatitis. Dogs may also experience a condition called pancreatic insufficiency, which can lead to poor digestion and other health problems.

Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs

One of the functions of a healthy dog pancreas is to produce insulin which regulates levels of glucose in the body. If diabetes mellitus has developed, the ability of the pancreas to produce necessary insulin is adversely affected. Dogs with diabetes will require close monitoring of blood sugar levels and may require insulin injections to prolong quality of life.

Signs to look for if dog diabetes is suspected are:

  • increased thirst and urination
  • weight loss
  • sudden signs of poor skin and coat development
  • vomiting
  • dehydration
  • secondary bacterial infections

Diabetes can affect any dog at any age, but older dogs and dogs that are obese are at higher risk.

Pancreatitis in Dogs

A dog pancreas can become inflamed and cause normal digestive enzymes to begin attacking the pancreas itself. This is referred to as pancreatitis and can be acute or chronic. Pancreatitis is more common in middle-aged dogs that are overweight and regular consumption of table scraps or other food that is high in fat can rapidly lead to this condition.

Pancreatitis in dogs usually causes severe abdominal pain, vomiting, greasy stool and lack of appetite. Treatment options are generally aimed at controlling symptoms and preventing complications, such as dehydration. Dogs who have had pancreatititis or abdominal surgery in the past are at an increased risk of developing this condition.

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency occurs when a dog pancreas fails to produce enough enzymes to properly digest food. Improper digestion can be signified by:

  • loss of weight
  • brittle or dry coat
  • diarrhea
  • stool discoloration
  • soft stool
  • flatulence

These symptoms may appear despite the normal rate of intake of food and liquids. Without these important enzymes, over time the pancreas will be destroyed and undigested fat may be seen in the stools. Unlike pancreatitis, which can create an emergency situation, pancreatic insufficiency may be treated with dietary changes and medication or supplements over time.

Pancreatic extracts, anti-acid medication and antibiotic treatments are among the most effective treatments.

Optimum Health for the Dog Pancreas

Prevention is key for maintaining the health of a dog pancreas and avoiding health problems that can potentially lead to significant pain or death. The best way to prevent any disease or inflammation affecting the pancreas or other parts of the digestive system is to avoid feeding a dog high-fat table scraps and keep the dog's weight within a healthy range.

Exercise can also encourage energy levels to remain optimum, thereby encouraging the digestive system to continue functioning properly.