Pancreatitis is defined as inflammation of the pancreas.
The pancreas is a small organ attached to the small intestine.
It has two main functions:
1) To produce hormones such as insulin
2) To produce enzymes that aid in the digestion of food
Some of the enzymes that the pancreas produces are caustic if they escape the pancreas.
After consumption of a large amount of fatty food, the pancreas may become exhausted and inflamed, causing these chemicals to leak inside and around the pancreas. The pancreatic enzymes then begin to digest whatever they come into contact with, including the pancreas itself and adjacent organs such as the liver, stomach and intestines.
Pancreatitis is most commonly seen in older, overweight dogs. It is often brought on by a large, or fatty meals such as sausages and leftovers.
Pancreatitis is normally diagnosed by a blood test. The blood test examines the level of some of the pancreatic enzymes present in the blood. These blood levels will typically be monitored daily whilst the patient is in hospital undergoing treatment.
The patient will also have an increased white cell and lipid (fat cell) count.
Ultrasounds can also be used to find inflammation, but this is not always available and can be expensive
In order to heal, the pancreas must be allowed to rest, which means NO food or water for 2-3 days. In order to maintain adequate tissue perfusion, hydration levels, and normal electrolyte balance, the patient must be kept in hospital on an IV drip.
They will normally require anti-emetic (anti-nausea) medication and anti-biotics, in case of infection. The condition is also extremely painful and the patient should be given strong analgesia.
Food and water can be very slowly reintroduced to the patient once the vomiting and abdominal pain has subsided. This must be done very cautiously, offering only tiny amounts of water, followed by small amounts of highly digestible, low fat, low protein food such as Hills i/d, or Royal Canin Sensitivity Control, both of which are available at our store.
For this reason, treatment often requires 4-5 days in hospital.
Once discharged, it is important to continue with a low fat diet for approximately one week. A normal diet can then be reintroduced.
Pancreatitis can reoccur if a balanced diet is not maintained. Repeated episodes can lead to long-term damage, such as pancreatic insufficiency or even diabetes.