The pancreas is a vital organ that lies on the right side of the abdomen adjacent to the stomach. The pancreas produces enzymes to assist in food digestion and hormones such as insulin and glucagon, which regulate blood sugar levels or glucose metabolism. Pancreas also secretes large amounts of bicarbonate, which buffers stomach acid.
Inflammation of the pancreas is known as pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can affect both dogs and cats. Causes of this condition includes a high-fat diet, obesity, a history of dietary indiscretion, hypothyroidism, severe blunt trauma, diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism certain medications or other toxins or genetic predisposition
In the initial stages of disease, the secretion of pancreatic juice decreases. This is followed by a series of steps that lead to activation of pancreatic enzymes inside the pancreas, rather than in the intestinal tract. The enzymes begin to digest the pancreas itself, causing damage within the pancreas and triggering inflammation, which leads to damage in other parts of the body. Loss of appetite, vomiting, weakness, abdominal pain, dehydration, and diarrhea are the most common signs reported in dogs with severe pancreatitis.
Treatment for pancreatitis includes careful monitoring and supportive veterinary care. Hospitalization may be required. Resting the pancreas by restricting all food or water by mouth for 3 to 4 days is recommended when the dog is vomiting. Severely ill dogs are given intravenous fluids. Pain medication is usually given because the animal is assumed to have abdominal pain.
Management of the condition by changing to a low-fat diet and low-fat treats. Pancreatic enzyme supplementation may help in cases when abdominal pain is present or for animals with consistently poor appetites. Patients with mild, long-term pancreatitis should be monitored for potential complications, such as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. Always follow the instructions of the veterinarian.