The holidays are fast approaching, and with them comes the promise of lots of cooking and enjoying delicious foods. Although we may tend to overindulge at this time of the year, affording the same opportunity for our pets can get them into big trouble. Besides adding unhealthy fat and calories to their diet, letting them sample the holiday fare can lead to a potentially fatal condition called pancreatitis.
It’s true that cases of pancreatitis in pets spike during the holidays each year, but in reality the condition can occur at any time. For that reason it is important to be aware of the risks, causes, and warning signs of pancreatitis year round.
Pancreatitis in Pets
The pancreas is an important organ located near the stomach and small intestine. It’s responsible for producing insulin and enzymes that aid in your pet’s digestion. When the pancreas becomes inflamed, the condition is called pancreatitis. Acute pancreatitis is extremely painful for your pet, and can cause organ damage – and in severe cases, death.
There can be a variety of reasons for pancreatitis in pets, but the most common cause is the ingestion of rich, fatty foods. Animals seldom tolerate these foods, and for some breeds, even a small nibble can cause big problems.
Signs of Pancreatitis
Pancreatitis can be hard to detect as the symptoms are often similar to other diseases, and can vary widely between dogs and cats. However, it must be treated early and aggressively in order to have the best outcome for your pet. If your pet exhibits any of the following signs, please call us or have them seen by a veterinarian right away.
- Recurrent vomiting
- Painful abdomen
- Anorexia (appetite loss)
- Hunched over appearance
Diagnosis and Treatment of Pancreatitis in Pets
A diagnosis may be made using the animal’s history and physical exam, as well as diagnostics such as blood tests, x-rays, and ultrasound. Effective treatment depends upon early and aggressive management and will likely consist of the following:
- Anti-nausea medications
- Anti-vomiting medications
- Pain medications
- IV fluids
- Withholding food
The exact cause of pancreatitis is unknown, but we know that overweight pets are at an increased risk, as well as pets that have already experienced an episode.
Other risk factors include:
- Breed (miniature schnauzers, miniature poodles, and cocker spaniels are all at higher risk)
- Certain medications
Make sure your pet maintains a healthy weight, and avoid giving them table scraps. Eliminate their access to the garbage so they can’t get into the trash. Follow these few tips, and you’ll be on the right track toward preventing pancreatitis in pets.