Loss of appetite. Disinterest in food. Vomiting. Most dog owners have dealt with these scary symptoms in their pets at various points. In many cases, the vomiting eventually stops and meals and treats are enjoyed once again. But sometimes these symptoms aren’t just a stage. Sometimes these symptoms are pancreatitis.
Just like us humans, dogs have a pancreas which aids in the digestion of foods, produces the enzymes that digest food, and produces insulin. If something happens to cause inflammation of the pancreas, the flow of enzymes into the digestive tract can become disrupted, forcing the enzymes out of the pancreas and into the dog’s abdominal area. Next, the digestive enzymes begin to break down fat and proteins in the body’s other organs, as well as in the pancreas. Because of their proximity to the pancreas, the kidney and liver can also be affected when this progression takes place, and the abdomen becomes inflamed, and possibly infected. If bleeding occurs in the pancreas, shock, and even death may follow.
The two major signs of pancreatitis in dogs are, as mentioned above, loss of appetite and repeated vomiting. But other symptoms can include a hunched back, pain or distention of the abdomen (the visual cues of this are that a dog appears uncomfortable or bloated), diarrhea, dehydration, weakness/lethargy, and fever. If a dog exhibits one or two of these signs, and only infrequently, constant monitoring is key. However, if multiple signs are exhibited at once, and repeatedly, a veterinarian should be called immediately.
While there are a variety of risk factors that can bring on pancreatitis, one of the causes is a high-fat diet, especially for a dog that gets one large helping of fatty food in one sitting the other major cause is a diet that consists of only processed foods like commercial dog food kibble.
Once a dog has had a bout of pancreatitis, the chance of recurrence is high. Studies have shown that pancreatitis can lead to diabetes and in some cases cancer. Dogs with gastrointestinal issues, hypothyroidism, diabetes and epilepsy are also at a higher risk for pancreatitis.
An pet parent’s best defense against a repeat appearance of pancreatitis involves two strategies: paying careful attention to their dog for the warning signs of pancreatitis and controlling the factors they can.
All of our foods can be used to successfully battle pancreatitis. All of our foods are based using whole, fresh, unprocessed foods as the major part of the diet. We often recommend starting with Canine Health-The Miracle Dog Food. However, if your dog is diabetic, we recommend Paradigm. Paradigm is very low in carbs so it will help with blood sugar spikes and helps to prevent pancreatitis which plagues many diabetic dogs.
While Pancreatitis is a serious and sometimes life threatening ailment in dogs, there is hope. Pet parents who make the appropriate changes to their dog’s diet have seen improvements in digestion, the relief of this ailment and many other health benefits that come with transitioning to a healthy, real food, whole food diet for their companions.