pet dog running outside.

The pancreas, for most people, is a bit of a nebulous organ. Most of us know that we have one, but not very many people really understand what the pancreas actually does. When it becomes angry, though, the pancreas is not an organ to be forgotten. Pancreatitis in pets (and people, too) is an extremely painful condition that Dupont Veterinary Clinic wants you to better understand. 

The Mysterious Pancreas

The pancreas lives in the abdomen, nestled just below the liver, and behind the stomach. It is long and flat and very delicate, composed of glandular tissue.

The pancreas serves two important functions:

Insulin production—The body needs insulin to regulate blood sugar (glucose). The pancreas produces this important hormone to help regulate how the body utilizes food. 

Digestive enzyme production—The pancreas also produces enzymes that help to break down food during the digestive process. 

When Good Pancreases Go Bad

Pancreatitis is a fancy word used to describe inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is known for being a somewhat delicate, temperamental organ, and what causes it to become inflamed isn’t always anything major. 

Because the pancreas is so heavily involved with the digestion of fats, though, sometimes we can pinpoint a heavy or overindulgent meal as an inciting cause. Other times, things like trauma, obesity, tumors, or a hormonal imbalance can play a role. 

When the pancreas is inflamed, the production and release of the digestive enzymes it normally regulates becomes disrupted. This can lead to a variety of clinical signs, which can range from very mild to life-threatening.

Symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain 
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Fever

Other diseases and problems can share similar symptoms, so it is important to contact us if your pet is having any of these problems so that we can determine the cause and best treatment as soon as possible. 

Pancreatitis in pets can be sudden and acute or it may be more smoldering and chronic. Cats in particular tend to have low-grade chronic pancreatitis that can be difficult to recognize. 

Preventing and Treating Pancreatitis in Pets

Pancreatitis in pets has a possibility of being pretty devastating. Thankfully, most cases are treatable. When pancreatitis is diagnosed or suspected, supportive care is indicated to get your pet through the episode. 

In milder cases, outpatient care that includes things like diet changes, anti-diarrheal medications, anti-nausea medication, and pain medications are typically administered. In more serious cases, hospitalization for intravenous fluids and medications may be needed. 

Pancreatitis in pets is no fun, and it is our goal to help pet owners prevent it whenever possible. Ward off pancreatitis by:

Of course, it is impossible to totally eliminate the chance of pancreatitis in pets. Sometimes, things just happen. If your pet is affected, though, you can rest assured that our professional staff will be here to help.