||HOLIDAYS ARE A TIME FOR CELEBRATIONS that
include family, visitors, parties, and good food.
Too much holiday food for your dog may
lead to a life-threatening condition
FUNCTIONS OF THE
The pancreas is a small,
v-shaped structure located
near and attached to the
wall of the small intestine.
This important organ has two
major functions: It produces
insulin to aid the body in the
absorption of glucose and other
carbohydrates. A dysfunction in this part of
the organ's work, when the pancreas does not
produce enough insulin, causes diabetes mellitus.
Its other essential function is that it produces
powerful enzymes that aid in the absorption of
fats and proteins in digestion. These enzymes
travel from the pancreas to the small intestine via
a small tube called the pancreatic duct.
WHAT CAUSES PANCREATITIS?
Factors, including diseases, medications,
infections, obesity, trauma, a high-fat diet,
table-scrap feasting, or greasy "people" food
(such as that during the holidays) can cause a
dog's pancreas to become inflamed. Middle-aged
dogs and Yorkshire Terrier and Schnauzer breeds
are particularly prone, but any dog can develop it.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PANCREATITIS?
Dog owners should suspect a problem with the pancreas if their pet has
a fever, reduced appetite, appears to have a painful abdomen, is showing
signs of depression and dehydration, is vomiting and/or passing yellow,
greasy diarrhea. Do not hesitate to seek medical help. Your veterinarian
will take a detailed history, conduct a physical exam, and do blood tests
to check pancreatic enzyme levels. A white blood cell count, x-rays,
and ultrasound tests may also be required. Initial treatment focuses on
withholding intake of food (to rest the pancreas), managing/relieving
the pain, establishing proper fluid and electrolyte balances, preventing
infection, and controlling possible complications.
WHAT IS THE PROGNOSIS?
Dogs with severe pancreatitis can recover but may then develop fatal
complications. In severe cases, pancreatitis can have permanent effects,
such as the development of diabetes mellitus or loss of pancreatic
enzymes needed for proper digestion. Pets that have repeated bouts of
pancreatitis may need to be fed low-fat diets to prevent recurrence. Even
so, some animals develop chronic pancreatitis, which can lead to diabetes
and/or pancreatic insufficiency, also called maldigestion syndrome.
Most dogs with mild pancreatitis make a successful recovery with prompt
treatment and adherence to the veterinarian's diet recommendations.
Although dogs can get pancreatitis from other conditions, it is a good
policy to prevent your dog from eating holiday goodies. Make sure there
are no unguarded "treats" on the counter (if you have a bigger dog) or
under the tree where the easy access would be sure to result in your dog's
overindulgence and possible problems with the pancreas.