Overview Of Pancreatitis In Dogs

Learn about pancreatitis in dogs, what it is, the symptoms, the causes as well as other important details are included.

Pancreatitis is a condition in which the pancreas, the organ vital in the digestion of food, becomes inflammation. This inflammation forces the digestive enzymes produced by the organ out into the abdominal region. This can lead to all sorts of problems, as the digestive enzymes may begin to affect nearby organs. Dogs with pancreatitis must be treated swiftly and immediately as there is a risk of death associated with the condition if the dog experiences bleeding in the pancreas.

Other severe complications in untreated pancreatitis includes damage to the brain and severe damage to other vital organs. For this reason, it’s important that you take your dog to the vet as soon as possible if you suspect your dog has this condition.


There is no single root cause of pancreatitis, but many risk-factors. It is thought that high levels of fat/calcium in the blood, certain drugs, stings from scorpions and/or trauma to the pancreas could lead to the development of this condition.

Obese dogs fed with a high fat diet are also at serious risk. Some owners unwittingly put their dog in danger by feeding him/her leftovers from their own meals which are high in fat.

Some breeds are more prone to the condition than others, including Cocker Spaniels and Miniature Schnauzers.

Symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs

Tell-tale signs of pancreatitis includes vomiting, abdominal pain and a loss of appetite. Other symptoms which may occur as a result includes:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Dehydration
  • Irregular heart rate

If you notice symptoms of pancreatitis in your dog, it is important that you seek veterinary attention quickly to avoid severe complications.


Typically the first step to diagnosing this condition is to rule out other illnesses which mimic the symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs. Your vet will usually check your pet’s medical history, and perform a blood test and urinalysis. He/she may look at the levels of lipase and amylase enyzmes in the blood, which are linked to fat and starch.

Your vet may also perform a canine pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity test, take x-rays and make use of ultrasound to determine whether your dog has pancreatitis amongst several other techniques.


During treatment, the vet will attempt to prevent serious complications from occurring. Usually, your dog will be provided with fluids to correct dehydration and electrolyte imbalances either intravenously or subcutaneously. Other substances will be used to aid in blood flow and correct potassium levels in the blood.

Antiemetics such as Cerenia may be used to control vomiting as well as pain relief medication if your dog is experiencing severe pain (though the use of pain relief medication in dogs is associated with negative side effects). If your pet is taking a drug which is known to cause pancreatitis in some cases, your dog will be taken off the medication.

Surgery may be required in some circumstances.


To prevent pancreatitis, ensure your pet’s diet contains the right balance of nutrients for dogs. Because a dog is biologically different to us in many ways, they require different food balances and suited to their needs. This means cutting back on high fat food, and not giving your pet fatty scraps off of your own plate.

When a dog first begins eating again after treatment, he/she will be provided with a low-fat high-carb diet to stick to until full recovery is achieved.

Cerenia for dogs, used to control vomiting associated with pancreatitis in dogs