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A mixed-breed dog sits on a blanket outside near a bowl of potato chips in The Dig’s article about pancreatitis in dogs

Health & Wellness

Pancreatitis in dogs

And how a low-fat diet can help

Feeding your pup a well-balanced, low-fat diet can help them stay lean and have more energy for playtime (which calls for more hours at the dog park!). Keeping your pet on a healthy diet can actually protect them from getting pancreatitis, too. Fetch by The Dodo’s on-staff veterinarian Dr. Aliya McCullough shares how to prevent, spot and treat pancreatitis in dogs. 

What causes pancreatitis in dogs?

The pancreas, which is an organ close to the stomach and liver on the right side of a dog’s body, is responsible for releasing digestive enzymes to break down proteins and produce hormones that regulate blood sugar. Pancreatitis is when a dog’s pancreas becomes inflamed and severe or chronic pancreatitis can destroy the cells that perform the pancreas’s basic functions. The condition isn’t contagious, and cases range between mild to severe (and sometimes chronic). The cause of pancreatitis in dogs is sometimes unknown, but it could stem from any of these reasons:

  • Secondary to chronic conditions like hypothyroidism or diabetes
  • Medications
  • Trauma
  • Cancer
  • Eating foods that are high in fat
  • Obesity
  • Dog breeds, like miniature schnauzers, are predisposed to pancreatitis

Symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs

Always consult your veterinarian if your dog starts showing signs of sickness. Symptoms that can signal pancreatitis in dogs include: 

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Bloody vomit and/or diarrhea
  • In severe cases, dogs may experience fever, collapse or slowed reactions 

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Treatment options for dogs with pancreatitis

Your veterinarian may be able to diagnose your dog with pancreatitis through a physical examination, blood work, X-rays or an ultrasound. Talk to your veterinarian about the best treatment option for your pup. There isn’t a specific treatment for pancreatitis in dogs (there aren’t any home remedies for pancreatitis, either), but a professional will most likely suggest some general supportive care options, like: 

  • IV fluid therapy
  • Anti-nausea medications
  • Antacid medications
  • Antibiotics
  • Pain medications
  • Diets that are low in fat
  • Hospitalization 
  • Surgery (it’s rare, though)

How long does it take dogs with pancreatitis to heal?

Mild cases of pancreatitis will typically heal within 2 to 5 days, while severe cases may take a week or longer. Be sure to check in with your vet if the symptoms of pancreatitis continue. 

Cost of pancreatitis treatments for dogs

The cost of pancreatitis treatment depends on the severity of the condition and the size of your dog. Generally, treating pancreatitis will cost between $200 to over $1,000 (especially if your pup needs to stay at the hospital). 

Ways to prevent pancreatitis in dogs

Serving your dog healthy food may help to prevent pancreatitis. Talk to your veterinarian about the right diet plan for your pup. Avoiding feeding your pup foods that are high in fat is a good idea, too. 

Diets for dogs with pancreatitis

If your dog has pancreatitis, your vet may recommend a low-fat or prescription diet. It’s important that the food is highly digestible, too. 

Making sure your pup eats a well-balanced diet may lower their risk of developing pancreatitis — and, who knows — your best friend may actually enjoy the healthy alternatives. With these tips, you can get your pup the best care if they ever come down with pancreatitis. 

Team Fetch

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

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