Dog Pancreatitis Recovery Time

Dog pancreatitis occurs when your dog's pancreas becomes inflamed. The pancreas is the organ responsible for producing the insulin that helps your dog's body metabolize sugars. The pancreas also produces the enzymes that help your dog's body absorb nutrients from food. Dog pancreatitis inflammation can either be acute, meaning that it comes on suddenly, or chronic, meaning that symptoms are less severe, but longer-lasting.

Causes of Pancreatitis in Dogs

Dogs can develop either acute or chronic pancreatitis for a number of reasons. Factors that can increase your dog's risk of pancreatitis include:

  • Obesity, or being overweight
  • Hypercalcemia (high blood calcium) 
  • Hyperlipidemia (high blood lipid levels)
  • Cushing's disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • A previous occurrence of pancreatitis

Some breeds are more prone to pancreatitis than others, suggesting that it may be partially genetic in origin. Yorkshire terriers and schnauzer terriers are more prone to this disease than other breeds. 

Diet plays a role in the development of canine pancreatitis. High-fat, greasy foods, including many table scraps, can contribute to the condition.

Injury or surgery to the abdomen can play a role in canine pancreatitis. Surgery and trauma can reduce blood flow to the organ, contributing to its inflammation.

Some medications can also cause canine pancreatitis as a side effect. Anti-cancer drugs, antibiotics and potassium bromide have been known to lead to pancreatitis in dogs.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Canine Pancreatitis

Dog pancreatitis causes a number of symptoms, which may be minor or severe. In the case of acute pancreatitis, symptoms appear suddenly and are usually quite severe. In the case of chronic pancreatitis, symptoms appear more slowly and may be less severe. Symptoms of dog pancreatitis include:

  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Lowered appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever 
  • Changes in posture

Severe inflammation can cause symptoms including:

  • Arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat
  • Permanent damage to the pancreas itself and the surrounding organs
  • Widespread hemmorrhage
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sepsis

Your vet will need a complete medical history and a thorough physical exam to diagnose pancreatitis. Blood counts, urinalysis and other tests may be performed to ensure that pancreatitis is at the root of your dog's symptoms. Your vet may take X-rays, ultrasounds and biopsies; he may also check the levels of pancreatic enzymes in your dog's blood. Elevated levels of pancreatic enzymes suggest inflammation in the organ.

Treating Dog Pancreatitis

Treatment for pancreatitis in dogs aims to control symptoms until the dog can recover. Your vet may administer pain relievers, supplemental fluids and medication to control vomiting and diarrhea. If your vet can determine the cause of your dog's pancreatitis, then he may take steps to correct the problem at its source.

During his recovery from pancreatitis, your dog will need to eat bland, low-fat, high-carbohydrate food. If your dog can eat on his own, you can feed him smaller meals more often. If your dog's condition is severe, he may need a feeding tube.

Recovery Time for Dog Pancreatitis

Your dog's prognosis and recovery time will depend on the type and severity of his pancreatitis. Acute dog pancreatitis can be deadly, and it requires immediate treatment. Your dog's recovery time may be longer.

Chronic pancreatitis often has milder symptoms and is easier to treat. Untreated, he could develop diabetes or pancreatis insufficiency, a condition in which the pancreas stops working. In some cases, pancreatitis resolves with treatment and never comes back. In others, however, it can recur, or worsen, even with treatment.