Pancreatitis in Dogs
What is Pancreatitis in Dogs:
A dog’s pancreas is located in the upper abdomen next to the liver and stomach. Its primary functions are to produce enzymes to digest and promote absorption of nutrients, and insulin to metabolize sugar in the body. Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed which can often lead to vomiting or loss of appetite.
Pancreatitis can come on suddenly and can be an acute episode. Past episodes and all of the above mentioned conditions can cause chronic pancreatitis.
Common symptoms of Pancreatitis in Dogs are:
- Loss of Appetite
- Hunched Back
- Obvious Pain
- Distended Abdomen and Bloating
Severe cases may develop heart arrhythmias, hemorrhaging, difficulty breathing, sepsis and the damaged pancreas can release enzymes that invade adjacent organs, causing permanent damage.
What causes Pancreatitis in Dogs:
Causes of Chronic and Acute Pancreatitis
- High fat diet or table scraps and fatty, greasy human foods like bacon, fatty bits of red meats or duck, etc.
- High lipid levels in the blood
- High calcium levels
- Small dogs, particularly Schnauzers, Spaniels and Yorkshire Terriers are genetically predisposed for Pancreatitis
- Anti-cancer drugs and certain antibiotics
- Blunt trauma
- Anything that restricts blood flow
Most dog owners whose pet has pancreatitis, notice something drastically different in their dog. They will generally behave differently, appear to be in pain or exhibit sure signs of illness outwardly, because they are vomiting or any number of other outward signs of distress. Your vet will look at the history of your dog’s health, including any diseases or injuries and run a battery of tests, including; a chemistry panel, blood count, a test to check blood levels of pancreatic enzymes, urinalysis, ultrasound and radiography. Ultimately, a biopsy can help provide a conclusive diagnosis. If the dog is in extreme distress, a biopsy is rarely done.
The condition may be present due to a medication your dog has been taking for an unrelated medical problem. That medication will be suspended immediately. Potassium levels often drop because of inflammation of the pancreas. If this is the case, a potassium supplement will be given. Anti-emetics may be given to control vomiting. In severe illness, IV fluids or subcutaneous fluids are in order to rehydrate. Surgery may be necessary to remove necrotic tissue or blockages causing increased inflammation. Electrolytes may be low, so electrolyte supplements may be ordered. Substances to increase or restart blood flow in the arteries and veins may be used. Pain relief is important as Pancreatitis is extremely painful. Food and liquid will be withheld for 24 hours. After improvement is apparent and feeding is resumed, your vet will suggest a low fat, bland diet with extra carbohydrates. Hydration is very important in the immediate healing stage. Added moisture content in the dog food you are feeding is helpful in keeping the dog hydrated. Restricted activity is necessary to help your dog recover. A prescribed diet may be a constant for the life of your dog if there has been substantial damage to the pancreas and surrounding organs. It is extremely important to refrain from giving table scraps. It is imperative that you prevent your dog from getting into the garbage.
Natural Remedies and Alternative Treatments
Herbs for Pancreatitis (Shop Below):
Mellit: An herb found to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce any imbalance in the organs.
Milk Thistle: A powerful antioxidant that promotes cellular repair and regeneration and removes toxins from the body.
Yucca: A highly effective anti-inflammatory herb known to minimize pain and swelling and be gentle and effective for treating gastric problems.
Many dog owners are not properly educated on the basic nutritional needs of dogs and in particular, their individual pet. This is not neglect. People are often mislead by advertising. Affordability and convenience are a major factor in deciding what food to feed your dog. Many people find a dog food that the dog likes, is affordable, convenient to store and serve and they believe that it is a healthy choice. It can be possible that feeding the same food regularly can lead to food allergies. You would not like to eat the same thing, two times a day, every day and neither does your dog. Variety in his diet is not only important but is a pleasant change in an otherwise dull daily routine.
There are commercial dog foods advertised and sold for every stage of life and many health concerns. There is puppy food, adolescent dog food, young adult dog food, mature dog food, senior dog food. There is high-protein dog food, high-fiber dog food, dog food for dogs with kidney disease, joint health concerns, grain free dog foods, the list goes further still. It is overwhelming roaming the aisles of the pet store or even the smaller aisles of your grocery store. How do you make the right decision? Do you spend all afternoon reading labels? Probably not. Affordability is a major factor in choosing a dog food to feed your dog. It is important to realize, a higher quality dog food may be more expensive, but you will save money in the long term by preventing disease and illness and quite probably extend the life of your dog. Remember variety. Your dog does not need to live on kibble alone. There are affordable fresh foods in the refrigerated section in the pet store. These are formulated from whole meat, have added vegetables and small amounts of fruit and are a healthy addition to kibble. You might get your finicky dog to eat his kibble if you mash up a little store bought, fresh food dog food.
There is a great deal of controversy surrounding the production, and ingredient sourcing and handling of commercial dry kibble. Many of the low cost kibbles are filled with low quality protein from rendered meats. These meat meals and meat by-products can consist of deceased zoo animals, dogs and cats euthanized with Pentobarbital, flea collars still attached to their bodies, beaks, hooves, feathers and other seemingly inedible animal parts, foods intended for human consumption that are past their shelf life (complete with Styrofoam packaging and plastic wrap), and mill sweepings, corn cobs and other “foods” unfit for consumption. The animal parts are steamed down to make a stew, which is then pressed and heated to remove all moisture and form kibble.
If you are going to buy any commercially made dog food, it is important to research, read labels and purchase only high quality foods with whole meat as their main ingredient. Do not be fooled by high profile advertising, attractive packaging, familiarity with brand names or even the word of mouth of your friends and family.
There is a rising interest in raw diets. One advantage is, you know exactly what you are feeding your dog. It is high in protein, fresh and it is usually fairly easy to find the proper ingredients in your grocery store. There are also some dogs that require high fiber in their diet, carbohydrates and the higher calories from these substances, due to a number of medical conditions. Dogs are not strictly carnivores like cats are. They are not omnivores, but rather opportunistic eaters. A raw diet may be beneficial for some dogs, but not all of them. You may wish to consult your vet before beginning to feed a raw diet. There will most certainly be vitamins, minerals and other supplements you will need to provide to give your dog a well- balanced diet.
Another option is home cooked food. These are made from whole grains like brown rice, millet, oats, and quinoa (which is actually a seed, but high in plant protein). The meat cooked in a home cooked diet is usually boiled or steamed. This process leeches out much of the nutrients from the meat and the water from the preparation should be saved and added into the food.
Shop Herbs for Pancreatitis in Dogs: