Pet Pancreatitis: A Pain in the… Gut?
There is a virtual laundry list of potential problems that can bring on digestive symptoms and abdominal pain in pets. When our veterinarians at Highway Veterinary Hospital see a patient for gastrointestinal symptoms during a sick visit, though, pet pancreatitis is almost always on the list of possibilities. Keep reading to learn more about this common pain in the gut:
A Potential Problem
Some internal organs get a lot of press, and others tend to be forgotten until they become an issue. The pancreas is one of those organs that we don’t often think about, but when something is wrong with it, it is hard to ignore.
Nestled in the upper abdomen near the stomach, the pancreas plays a key role in digestion. Secreting key enzymes for the digestion of fats as well as insulin, which aids in blood sugar regulation, the pancreas is important for normal function.
The pancreas also has a bit of a reputation for being a bit sensitive. It doesn’t take a lot to cause it to become angry and inflamed, and when it’s not happy, dramatics often ensue.
We know that people can suffer from pancreatitis, but dogs and cats most certainly do as well.
While a trigger for pet pancreatitis is not always identifiable, sometimes things like trauma, obesity, or a medication reaction can be pinpointed.
Many times in pets, though, an overindulgent treat or meal can be to blame. Pets who have suffered from pancreatitis before are also more likely to be affected in the future.
Symptoms can vary from mild and vague to severe and life-threatening. They often include:
- Lethargy and depression
- Decreased or absent appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Lying or standing in odd positions (to reduce discomfort)
Of course, there are many other problems that can cause similar symptoms. Physical examination and diagnostic testing such as blood work, radiographs (x-rays), and ultrasound may be needed to arrive at a diagnosis.
Treatment can range from outpatient therapy with pain medication, special diet, and digestive support to full hospitalization for intravenous fluids and medications. There is no cure for pet pancreatitis, rather we must offer supportive care while the pancreatic inflammation subsides.
Stopping Pancreas Problems in Their Tracks
Pet pancreatitis can be quite painful for our four-legged patients and very stressful for their human caretakers. While it is not entirely preventable, there are certain things that you can do to ward off trouble.
Help to prevent pet pancreatitis by:
- Feeding a good quality diet
- Avoiding table scraps when possible
- Feeding low-fat treats instead of rich, fatty things like bacon or gravy
- Helping your pet to maintain a healthy body weight
- Keeping trash and other food scraps secure from curious pets
If you feel that your pet may be exhibiting symptoms of pancreatitis, do not delay in making an appointment immediately. Pancreatitis can be very uncomfortable, and the sooner we identify what the problem is, the sooner we can start to help!