Canine Pancreatitis

Causes Of Canine Pancreatitis


by Guest Author Dr. Susan Wright, DVM

The Pancreas is a small organ that is located next to your dog’s stomach and small intestine. Its job is to secrete enzymes into the small intestine to help with digestion, and to produce insulin, a hormone which is involved in the regulation of blood glucose.

Inflammation of the pancreas can cause the release of enzymes which start to digest the organ. This causes more damage to the pancreas as well as general signs of illness such as vomiting, a fever and a tummy ache.

Severe pancreatitis, or recurring bouts of the illness, can permanently affect insulin production, which will result in your dog developing diabetes mellitus.

There is no single cause of pancreatitis in dogs, and in many cases, it’s not possible to identify what has triggered the disease. However, there are some things that can lead to pancreatic inflammation.

  • Hormonal disorders such as thyroid disease or diabetes can predispose to pancreatitis.
  • Certain medications can make a dog more likely to develop this disease. Such drugs include anti-epileptic medication and chemotherapy drugs.
  • Trauma to the pancreas from a blow to the abdomen can lead to inflammation of that part of the body, and this can cause pancreatitis.
  • Pancreatic cancer can cause inflammation in the organ.
  • Some breeds, such as the Miniature Schnauzer, can be more likely to develop pancreatitis because of their unique metabolism.
    English: Schnauzer|Miniature Schnauzer] (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



  • Pancreatitis may be associated with eating a fatty meal; many dogs become ill with pancreatitis after Christmas, when they have been given rich fatty leftovers.

Diagnosing Pancreatitis

Reaching a diagnosis of pancreatitis isn’t straightforward. Your dog’s symptoms may make your vet suspect pancreatitis but further tests are needed. A general blood test will measure the levels of amylase and lipase in your dog’s blood. These two digestive enzymes are produced by the pancreas and if they are increased, it’s likely that there is damage to pancreatic cells. However, there are other illnesses that can cause an increase in these enzymes so blood tests aren’t very reliable. There is a newer blood test called CPL test, which measures specific canine pancreatic lipase, and is much better at confirming a diagnosis.

Australian Shepherd (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Treating Pancreatitis in Dogs

Most cases of pancreatitis in dogs need treatment in hospital. Treatment includes no food to let the pancreas rest, intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration and pain relief. Antibiotics are often prescribed; even though bacteria aren’t a cause of pancreatitis, they can infect the inflamed organ and make the situation worse.

Low fat diets and weight loss are important in long term management of dogs with pancreatitis. If they develop diabetes mellitus, they will need insulin to keep their blood sugar levels within normal limits.

Pancreatitis can make your dog seriously ill and may even be fatal. It’s important that you’re aware of the symptoms so, if you suspect this condition in your dog, you can start treatment as soon as possible.

Dr. Susan Wright, DMV is a professional on dog bark collars and dog training collars. Susan has been giving care for pets as a practicing veterinarian for more than 10 years. As an authority on domestic pet care, Susan likes writing articles that help people give the best care for their pets.

Please visit my web site at Pet Portraits by Deena and see the many portraits I have painted.  Dogs, cats, horses…what will be next?  10% of proceeds will benefit CorgiAid!

This article is posted and shared through the courtesy of petMD “Because pets can’t talk”  This particular article is from the Blog of Dr. Jennifer Coates