Signs of Pancreatitis in Pets

Pancreatic disorders occur frequently in the dog and cat. The pancreas is a gland in the abdomen that produces enzymes which aid in the digestion of food. It also produces some hormones such as insulin which are secreted into the blood. If, because of injury or disease, these digestive enzymes become activated within the pancreas before they are released, they will begin digesting the pancreas itself. This self-digestion causes severe inflammation called Pancreatitis which is associated with pain and tenderness of the abdomen. Pancreatitis is usually classified as either acute (occurs suddenly) or chronic (an ongoing condition).


Signs of Pancreatitis

The signs of pancreatitis usually occur suddenly in dogs and cats. You ll need to be aware of the signs so you can get treatment for your pet as soon as possible. A pet with pancreatitis will exhibit some or all of the following signs: lack of appetite, frequent vomiting and diarrhea which may contain blood. A pet may also drink more water than usual and vomit it soon after consumption. Weakness, inability to walk and abdominal tenderness or pain may be present. Body temperature will vary in pets with pancreatitis, but usually the temperature will be higher than normal at the onset of the disease and then fall to below normal as the condition continues. The eyes may become sunken, and the mouth and eyes may become very dry, indicating dehydration. These signs are not unique to pancreatitis; therefore your veterinarian may recommend tests to differentiate pancreatitis from other diseases.


Causes of Pancreatitis

Although the exact cause of pancreatitis is often unknown, there are several contributing factors. Hyperlipemia: Hyperlipemia (high blood fat content) is a condition in which the amount of fat in the blood is elevated. Hyperlipemia occurs normally for a short period after a meal then returns to the correct level. However, some pets, like some people, have a metabolic problem which prevents the proper clearing of the fat from the blood stream. Some research studies have shown recently that hyperlipemia contributes to the development of pancreatitis. Obesity: Many dogs with pancreatitis are overweight. Dogs also are more likely to develop pancreatitis after eating a meal with a high fat content, especially fatty table scraps. Therefore, dietary fat intake and the nutritional status of the animal are important factors in this disease.


Infectious Disease: Bacterial or viral infections can contribute to the development of pancreatitis in the dog or cat. Bacterial infections are often contracted by consuming spoiled or contaminated food or water. Viral infections usually result from contact with other infected animals. Trauma: Any trauma or injury that involves the abdomen in the dog or cat can contribute to the development of pancreatitis. For example, pets injured in automobile accidents commonly develop pancreatitis.


Diagnosis of Acute Pancreatitis

Your veterinarian will want to perform a thorough physical exam, evaluate your pet’s clinical signs, and ask you questions about your pet’s health history. If, after examining your pet, your veterinarian suspects pancreatitis, a blood sample for laboratory analysis may be required. This lab evaluation will determine the levels of cholesterol, amylase and lipase (digestive enzymes) and white blood cells.



The most important therapeutic measure is to withhold all food, water and medications taken by mouth in order to reduce the need for the pancreas to work. Dehydration must also be corrected or avoided by giving fluid intravenously or by injection under the skin. Occasionally the severity of this disease requires that no solid food be fed for a period of two to five days. Any food that is eaten will stimulate the release of digestive enzymes from the pancreas. Since the pancreas is especially sensitive at this time, the amount of these enzymes required should be kept at a minimum. Solid food should be reintroduced gradually.


During recovery, your pet should be fed small quantities of diets that contain highly digestible nutrients and a low fat level such as Prescription Diet® Canine i/d® or Prescription Diet® Canine w/d® or Prescription Diet® Feline w/d® dietary pet food. These feedings can be increased in quantity until a return to normal dietary habits has been achieved. Indiscriminate feeding practices may help contribute to the occurrence or recurrence of pancreatitis. If your pet has been treated for pancreatitis previously or if your veterinarian indicates that your pet may have a tendency to develop pancreatitis, you must be careful what is fed. Under “Causes of Pancreatitis,” it was pointed out that hyperlipemia and high blood fat levels may contribute to the development of pancreatitis, therefore, high fat diets should be avoided. Long term dietary management includes avoidance of fatty meals, treats such as table scraps, meat trimmings or fat supplements.


Feed a maintenance diet of Prescription Diet Canine w/d or Canine i/d or Feline w/d. Obese pets should be placed on a weight reduction program. This may be accomplished with a diet such as Prescription Diet® Canine r/d® or Prescription Diet® Feline r/d®. (Ask your veterinarian about additional information for the treatment of obesity.) In addition to dietary management and fluids, there are certain drugs your veterinarian may recommend to help manage pancreatitis. Those drugs may include medication to help relieve the severe abdominal pain, antibiotics to prevent or treat pancreatic infections or abscesses, and/or drugs to decrease pancreatic secretions. If drugs are prescribed, please follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully. It may be necessary for your pet to return to the veterinarian periodically for exams and additional blood work to evaluate the treatment protocol and check for recurrence of the disease.


Chronic Pancreatitis

In dogs, chronic pancreatitis is characterized by frequent bouts of acute pancreatitis. Pets with chronic pancreatitis often have a history of repeated bouts of abdominal pain aod gastrointestinal upset. Between episodes, the dog seems normal, but each episode of acute pancreatitis causes additional destruction of the pancreas. Eventually, some dogs develop progressively more severe signs. Careful dietary management can alter these repeat episodes. Cats, in contrast to dog’s frequent bouts of acute pancreatitis, experience persistent chronic pancreatitis, producing a slowly progressive inflammation and vague signs of illness. Some researchers report that chronic pancreatitis is more common in the male than in the female cat. Abdominal pain is not present in cats with pancreatitis. Most cats with pancreatitis suffer loss of appetite, weight loss and variable lack of energy. Many of them also urinate more often than usual. Abnormalities are not as consistent in the blood analysis of cats with pancreatitis as they are with dogs, which makes the disease more difficult to diagnose in cats. Often, laboratory results from cats with chronic pancreatitis are normal.


Dietary Management

Dietary management can help avoid pancreatitis in the dog and cat. If your pet has a predisposition to the development of pancreatitis or a history of pancreatitis, diets low in dietary fats, such as Prescription Diet Canine i/d and Prescription Diet Canine w/d and Feline w/d should be fed to your pet. If your pet is overweight, a weight loss program utilizing Prescription Diet Canine r/d or Feline r/d respectively should be initiated. If your pet suffers from hyperlipemia, a high fibre, low fat diet, such as Prescription Diet Canine w/d or Feline w/d, should be fed to your pet. Under no circumstances should your pet be fed treats such as meat or meat scraps that are high in fat. Talk to your veterinarian about the correct diet for your pet.


Feeding Directions

Follow your veterinarian s directions when feeding the prescribed diet. Although these diets may not look like typical pet foods, most pets will readily eat these diets. If your pet is one of the few that doesn t readily accept the new diet after two days, you may want to try the following: If the canned diet has been refrigerated, warm the food to, but not above, body temperature. Hand feed the new diet for the first few days. Mix the dry diet with a little warm water and wait ten minutes before serving. (Use this technique with the dog only.) Over a seven to ten day period, mix the diet with your pet s former food, gradually increasing the proportion of Prescription Diet until only the new diet is being fed. Add one to three tablespoons of homemade clear, unsalted chicken broth to the prescribed diet. Feed only the prescribed diet. Be patient but firm with your pet. This is important. The recovery of your pet depends to a large degree on strict adherence to the new diet. The information on this page is provided by Hill’s®Pet Nutrition Inc. to help you learn about the disease and how to care for your pet at home. SOURCE: ©1991 Hill’s Pet Products Division of Colgate-Palmolive Company

New Pet? Pet-Proof Your Home

A new pet is more than an adorable bundle of fur; it’s also a big responsibility. That pesky puppy or curious kitten can find lots of ways to get into trouble, and — contrary to popular opinion — pets don’t always intuitively know what can be potentially harmful to eat or drink. A pet’s safety always comes first, but you’ll also want to take steps to safeguard your furniture, carpeting, and other belongings (including that favorite pair of shoes). Read on for tips that will help you pet-proof your home.
Pet Safety: Gates and Latches
“The most common injury in new pets that I see in my practice is puppies falling off beds, sofas, and other high furniture,” says Ernest Ward, Jr., D.V.M., the founder and chief of staff at Seaside Animal Care in Calabash, North Carolina, and a regular guest onThe Rachael Ray Show. To prevent such falls, keep your pet off high furniture — a rule that holds for kittens too, says Ward.
It’s also important to restrict a new pet’s access to your home by shutting off rooms with a closed door or child gates. “This not only prevents accidental injury but also can help curtail house-soiling problems,” says Ward. Establishing boundaries for your puppy or kitten early on leads to a well-trained adult animal.
Household Cleaners, Chemicals, and Plants
While your pet is still getting accustomed to its new home, install childproof latches on cabinet doors and keep household chemicals and cleaners — such as bleach, ammonia, and antifreeze — well sealed and out of your pet’s reach.
For dogs, the most dangerous common toxin is antifreeze, says Dr. Louise Murray, D.V.M., director of medicine at the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City and author of Vet Confidential: An Insider’s Guide to Protecting Your Pet’s Health. “A dog may lick it off the floor while its owner is working on a car,” she says.
For cats, the most dangerous toxin is the lily, which can cause fatal kidney failure if even a leaf is nibbled. Other common houseplants are also toxic to dogs and cats; ask your veterinarian for a list.
“People Food” and Other Common Pet Dangers
Ward recommends that animals of all ages be kept away from “people food” — onions, garlic, chocolate, and raisins, in particular, are harmful to pets.
Pet medicine is designed to taste good to dogs, which can tempt them to chew through the bottles, leading to overdose. Some owners give their pets medications meant for people, such as ibuprofen, a hazardous practice that can cause damage to pets’ intestines and kidneys. Murray recommends keeping human and pet medications separate and keeping both safely stored away.
For further information on poisonous household items, visit the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control FAQ.
Electrical cords are another potential hazard, says Ward, because teething puppies enjoy chewing on squishy wires. Unplug unnecessary cords and purchase protective covers for outlets and power strips.
The Great Outdoors
Many pet owners believe that their new pets’ instincts will keep them away from harm, a common assumption that can seriously endanger pets left free to roam outdoors. “Their instincts were designed for a world we don’t live in today,” says Murray.
Letting dogs and cats run loose outside can lead to fights with other animals, as well as injuries from cars and people. Murray recommends keeping dogs on a leash at all times outside. Cats should be kept indoors for the most part, although they can be allowed to venture into a backyard if they’re kept on a leash under their owner’s supervision.

Pets & Truck Beds

You may sometimes see dogs riding in the beds of pick-up trucks, and it may look like they’re having fun, but it’s extremely dangerous. As pet owners, it’s our job to set boundaries for our pets to ensure their safety. We advise all pet owners to NEVER allow their pet to ride in the back of a pick of truck, as the result could be seriously injury or even death. Be safe! Let your pet ride in the cab with you.

Pets & Camping Safety

Camping with your pet can be a fun adventure, but also a dangerous one! It’s important to be fully prepared for bringing a pet with you into the woods BEFORE you go. Make sure your pet is up-to-date on all parasite prevention, and be sure to pack plenty of food and water. If you’re filtering your water, don’t forget your pet needs filtered water too! And most importantly, check campground rules where you’ll be staying, because some campgrounds don’t allow pets because of the danger of large wild animals, like bears! Make sure you keep your pets and family safe, and have a great trip!

Mobilize the Earth for Earth Day 2012

The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life to speak out against the deterioration of the environment and demand change. As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency was created, the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts were passed,and the modern environmental movement was born.

Today, more than 1 billion people in 192 countries participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. This year, in the face of global inaction on pressing environmental problems, we must harness that power.

Earth Day Network is calling upon individuals, organizations, businesses and governments to Mobilize the Earth™ and demand that environmental issues become a top priority.

Pets & Easter Egg Hunts

Easter egg hunts are so much fun for kids, and sometimes even for adults! Finding that brightly colored egg stuffed with a surprise is exciting! But don’t forget the dangers of failing to find an egg that’s been stuffed with candy. Your dog leads with their nose, and if you don’t find it, your pet might! Consider stuffing your eggs with something safe for pets this year. If Fido finds them, he’ll be less likely to break them open and eat what’s inside.

March is Poison Prevention Month

March is Poison Prevention Month! Did you know that some of the most common household items that poison pets include human medication, both prescription and over the counter? With over 25,000 reported cases of pets poisoned by eating human medicine, it’s important to exercise extreme caution when it comes to storing these items! Keep your medications high up on shelves and closed inside cabinets, where your pet cannot access them. It’s also important to open bottles over counters so that any dropped pills don’t end up on the floor where they can be snapped up by a curious pet. Keep your pet safe and healthy this March!