Pancreatitis in Dogs
Pancreatitis is an inflammation and swelling of the pancreas . Pancreatitis occurs in two different forms, acute and chronic, and both may be either mild or severe. Acute pancreatitis occurs suddenly and is more often severe, while chronic pancreatitis refers to an ongoing inflammation that is usually less severe and may have no recognisable symptoms.
It can be caused by several factors. These being:
Diet: A diet high in fat, sugar or carbs
Weight : Dog being obese
Diseases: Diabetes, Hypercalcemia, Liver Disease and Cushings. Viral and bacterial infections can also be a trigger.
Surgery and Trauma
Medications : Such as Potassium Bromide and Phenobarbital
Breeds : Certain breeds are predisposed such as Cocker spaniels and mini poodles, Daschunds, Mini Schnauzers. So our cockapoos could also be predisposed to this condition as being the mating of both cocker spaniel and poodle, which both breeds are prone to pancreatitis.
Females are more susceptible than males and dogs that are middle aged to older dogs.
Symptoms depending on severity , can range from :
Belly tucked up and dog in hunched position
Lack of appetite
Further reading here :
This is Molly's Story by Dawn Tranter
Molly had always been rather fussy about her food and was very skinny when I first got her. Finally I found a food she liked, she ate well and all seemed fine - although every now and then she was sick and off colour for a few days and each time she seemed to need a visit to the vets and anti-sickness injections to sort her out. At one of the vet visits they mentioned pancreatitis and testing her for this next time she was ill.
The next time she was ill she did it in spectacular fashion and was sick all through the night so we went to the vets first thing in the morning for the usual injections. As she had been so sick though the vets were concerned she would become dehydrated so told me if she was not drinking by lunchtime we needed to go back to the vets. She was very sad and quiet and no better by lunchtime so back to the vets and they kept her in on a drip.
She then spent the night at the emergency vets on the drip before being discharged the following morning - but not for long as she was still being sick so was soon back and had another night in the emergency vets. She was still very poorly the next morning but the vets allowed her home to rest and she gradually improved throughout the day. Blood tests showed it was pancreatitis and I needed to radically alter her diet to make it very low in fat. I had thought her wet food was reasonably low in fat by looking at the label - but had not realised I needed to work out the fat on a dry matter basis - which made her food very high in fat so no longer suitable for her.
At this point Molly had not eaten at all for three days and I was given some special canned low fat diet by the vets. I had to reintroduce food to her very gradually as it was more important for her to not be sick again than eat decent quantities. It took a good few days before she was eating a reasonable quantity and at this point she was pretty well back to her usual happy bouncy self although she had lost a lot of weight.
The canned food was OK - but Molly made it quite clear she did not really enjoy it and only ate because she was hungry - and on a low fat diet she was suddenly very hungry a lot of the time. I spent long hours in pet shops comparing different foods, calculating the fat level on a dry matter basis and buying different things for her to try. I am aiming for a fat level of around 6% and this needs to apply to everything she eats so she can't have fatty foods at all or they may trigger another attack.
We are now a few months in to coping with her pancreatitis. We have had a couple more scares one of which involved another vet trip and another blood test. I now know the signs and if she is off colour she needs to have a day without any food at all and is usually better the next day. We have settled on a home cooked diet with as much variety as I can provide and some added bits of low fat dog food when I can persuade her to eat it!! At her last vet check the vets were pleased with how she is doing and happy with our slightly unusual diet.
Day to day life is fine although I need to be very aware of her picking things up she should not have or someone offering her things. She did cost a small fortune in vet fee's with her time in the vets, although I found out she had been a firm favourite with the staff at the emergency vets when we were invited to a special awards day for some of their patients. Molly got a certificate, and a special tag for her collar and a bandana - and we humans got tea and cakes.
Thanks to Dawn for sharing her story.