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Canine Pancreatitis Causes

Canine Pancreatitis Causes

Pancreatitis is a common canine medical condition that requires early diagnosis and treatment. This article deals with the various aspects of the condition.
Sonia Nair
Having a pet dog may sound simple, however, it involves a lot of effort in taking care of the animal the proper way. Pet dog care includes its health issues that have to be dealt with promptly, so as to maintain its well-being. So, having a fair idea about some common canine diseases is always recommended. This will help you in noticing and identifying the symptoms and getting the condition diagnosed and treated at the earliest. Pancreatitis is a common health problem in dogs.

Pancreatitis in Dogs

The pancreas is a gland that produces digestives enzymes (lipase) as well as certain hormones (insulin) to regulate metabolism of sugar. Pancreatitis is a condition that is characterized by inflammation of the pancreas, which is located beneath the stomach, adjacent to the duodenum. Pancreatitis is caused by the action of digestive enzymes produced by the gland. To be more precise, premature release of these enzymes (that are stored in the granules of the pancreas) result in the digestion of the gland itself. These enzymes get activated inside the pancreas itself, thereby triggering digestion of the gland which turns red and inflamed. This may sometimes affect the nearby organs too.

Dogs have a natural mechanism that prevents such premature release of pancreatic enzymes. In normal cases, such prematurely released enzymes get deactivated inside the pancreas, due to the action of this natural mechanism. It is when this mechanism fails, that conditions like pancreatitis develop in dogs. Canine pancreatitis can be of two types - acute or chronic. While acute pancreatitis develops all of a sudden, chronic ones are found to be an ongoing condition. Even though the exact cause for canine pancreatitis is still unknown, it has been observed that there are certain risk factors that may contribute to this condition.

Causes of Canine Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is a condition that is commonly seen in overweight dogs, middle aged canines and older females. It is also said that some dog breeds are more prone to this condition. These include cocker spaniels, miniature poodles, and miniature schnauzers. As mentioned above, there is no exact cause for the condition, but, there are certain contributory factors, that are discussed below.
  • One of the common conditions associated with canine pancreatitis is obesity. This does not mean that all obese dogs will develop this condition. However, obese dogs have an increased risk of developing pancreatitis.
  • Another factor that may lead to pancreatitis is a diet that is rich in fats. You should not link this to obesity as all dogs that consume a high fat diet are not necessarily obese. It is said that the pancreas releases lipase (fat digesting enzyme) in large amounts, so as to digest the excess fats. This may sometimes prove fatal for the gland itself. Even a single episode of high fat ingestion may sometimes cause pancreatitis in dogs, due to the excess lipase.
  • Even an injury or trauma involving the pancreas may cause rupture of the organ, causing release of the enzymes stored in it. This in turn, will lead to pancreatitis.
  • Some medical conditions are also included as canine pancreatitis causes. These include diabetes, hypothyroidism, tumor of the pancreas, obstruction of pancreatic duct, hyperlipidaemia (high fat levels in blood) and certain types of bacterial or viral infections.
  • In some cases, it has been noticed that use of certain medications is found to be the contributory factor for canine pancreatitis. This is mostly seen in case of corticosteroids and it is said that these drugs stimulate the gland to release excess enzymes. Anti seizure medication and certain antibiotics are also linked to this condition.
The above said are some of the possible canine pancreatitis causes. If left untreated, this condition may prove fatal for the dog. So, if you notice symptoms of pancreatitis in your dog, you have to take it to the vet for early diagnosis and treatment. The common symptoms of this condition are vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, loss of appetite, depression, hunched back due to abdominal pain and tenderness and lethargy. Some dogs may also have increased body temperature. The diagnosis is often based on the symptoms and diagnostic tests.

So, dogs with pancreatitis require immediate medical attention. As intake of food triggers release of the digestive enzymes from the pancreas, the affected dog is not allowed to ingest water or food, so as to fasten the healing of the pancreas. Canine pancreatitis treatment includes administration of intravenous fluids, to avoid dehydration. These fluids may be supplemented with potassium to counter pancreatitis. Even plasma transfusion may be needed, so as to introduce certain proteins into the body, for curbing the action of pancreatic enzymes. Pain medication and antibiotics may also be given to the dog. In some cases, like pancreatic duct obstruction, surgery may also be required. As the dog recovers, a low-fat diet will be initiated, that too at a gradual pace. This diet will include easily digestible foods. So, fat should be strictly avoided. The vet may also prescribe oral medication to be administered to the dog, for a certain period. Now that you have a basic understanding about the canine pancreatitis causes, you can take some precautionary measures to prevent this condition. So, provide your dog with a low fat diet, control their weight and treat conditions that may cause pancreatitis. Above all, if you notice symptoms of pancreatitis, provide prompt treatment for your pet, to avoid complications.