Pancreatitis in Dogs

Pancreatitis in Dogs

A dog’s pancreas helps the canine digest food and controls their blood sugar and metabolism levels. When the pancreas suddenly becomes inflamed (acute pancreatitis), this results in pain and swelling as the pancreas begins to digest itself.

How is Pancreatitis in Dogs Caused, and What Are the Risk Factors?

Pancreatitis in dogs can be caused by a number of factors, including:

• Obesity
• Hypothyroidism
• Certain toxins and medications
• High-fat diets (or the large introduction of high fatty foods in a short amount of time)

While pancreatitis can occur in any dog, certain breeds are more susceptible than others, such as cocker spaniels, mini schnauzers and mini poodles. Additionally, overweight, middle-age dogs and female canines may experience pancreatitis more often than others.

Veterinarians typically see an increase in pancreatitis around the holidays, as people generally share more meals with their dogs around these times. Canines who also get into the garbage have a higher risk of pancreatitis, therefore it is extremely important for pet owners to keep watch of their pets around the holidays and to make sure that their garbage cans are “dogproof.”

What Are Some Symptoms of Pancreatitis?

Common symptoms of pancreatitis include vomiting, abdominal pain and loss of appetite. Less common symptoms include:

• Diarrhea
• Gagging
• Irregular posture
• Restlessness
• Lethargy
• Swollen abdomen

How is Pancreatitis Diagnosed and Treated?

To diagnose pancreatitis in dogs, your veterinarian will evaluate your dog’s medical history and complete a thorough physical exam. Some diagnostic tests may also be performed which include chemistry tests, complete blood count, electrolyte tests, imaging studies and pancreas-specific tests which can help rule out or diagnose the disease.

Depending on severity, pancreatitis treatment may include:

• Hospitalization (in extreme cases 24-hour intensive care and monitoring may be necessary)
• Pain medications and anti-vomiting medications
• Intravenous fluids
• Antibiotics
• Food/diet and nutritional counseling
• Other medications depending on canine symptoms

Please note that treatment plans vary by pet, and certain diagnostic tests may be repeated to continually monitor your dog’s treatment progression.


If your pet is experiencing any of the above symptoms or you have further questions about this condition, please contact us at 907-479-0001.