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What to Know if Your Dog or Cat has Pancreatitis

cat and dog with pancreatitis

What is Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the exocrine part of the pancreas. The pancreas is a glandular organ located in the abdominal cavity near the stomach which produces several important hormones. It produces digestive enzymes that assist digestion and absorption of nutrients in the small intestine.

There are two forms of pancreatitis, acute and chronic. While in cats the most common form is chronic pancreatitis, in dogs, acute pancreatitis is more common.

Anatomy of a dog that has pancreatitis

What Causes Pancreatitis?

In most cases the cause of pancreatitis in dogs and cats is unknown. However, some causes are suggested:

Cats: In a cat that has pancreatitis, common causes include inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), as well as inflammation of the liver and gallbladder.

Dogs: A dog that has pancreatitis may have recently eaten food that is unusual such as human food or garbage. Foods high in fat, obesity, liver disease, issues with the small intestine or adrenal glands (Hyperadrenocorticism) can also play a role in pancreatitis.

Which are the Clinical Signs of Pet Pancreatitis?

If your dog has pancreatitis, symptoms can include vomiting, dehydration, pain in the abdomen, lethargy, and fever.

How to Diagnose a Pet with Pancreatitis?

The diagnosis of pancreatitis can be complicated. It may require several types of blood tests, abdominal x-rays, and even an ultrasound.

Which are the Treatment Options?

If your dog or cat has chronic pancreatitis, it may not need hospitalization. However, if your pet has acute pancreatitis then hospitalization may be required for fluid therapy, pain medication, and other supportive care.

How Can I Take Care of a Dog or Cat with Pancreatitis?

Your pet’s diet plays an important role in overcoming pancreatitis, so changes are very important. The new diet for a pet with pancreatitis should be lower in fat. Also, in many pets, the underlying problem is a dietary intolerance or allergy, so a diet change may solve the root problem. Chronic pancreatitis in cats and dogs can be challenging to control, and sometimes several different treatments and therapies may be required.