On Wednesday night, little Max had a tummy ache. At first, we just thought he had eaten a little grass or something that caused him to have diarrhea, but when it continued every few hours until morning, we knew it was something more severe.
We rushed Max to the hospital and he endured a series of tests to determine the cause. The doctor's findings... Pancreatitis. Alarmed and worried, I had to fully research pancreatitis as we nearly dismissed the ailment as a tummy ache. I thought I would pass my research on to you, as it can affect all dogs and is quite severe.
What does the Pancreas do?
The pancreas is a glandular organ that is located under the stomach and duodenum (first part of the small intestine) in the dog and cat. The functions of the pancreas are 1) exocrine, which produces the enzymes needed to digest food, and 2) endocrine, which produces hormones, including the hormone insulin, which facilitates the uptake and storage of glucose (sugar) and amino acids (proteins).
What is Pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, causing leakage of the digestive enzymes whereby the pancreas literally starts to "digest itself."
What Causes Pancreatitis?
The cause of pancreatitis in dogs is not well understood at this point. There are a few things that predispose dogs to the development of pancreatitis, including: high fat content in blood (hyperlipidemia), high fat diet, obesity, certain medicines, underlying diseases, bacterial or viral infection, and trauma; however, there is also some research that indicates there are genetic factors at play as well.
What are the signs of Pancreatitis?
The problem with Pancreatitis is that it often just shows itself by diarrhea or vomiting, which taken by itself may not initially cause worry. Additionally, dogs with pancreatitis may be depressed, lose their appetite, and may also exhibit pain in the abdomen (restlessness, panting or unwillingness to lie down).
How do you Treat Pancreatitis?
Treatment generally involves the withdrawal of food and water for at least 48 hours. This allows the gastrointestinal system to rest, which makes the swelling of the pancreas go down. Depending on the severity of each case, and the dog may have to be on intravenous fluids and other support to heal the pancreas while off of oral food and water.
Max's pancreatitis apparently came from a protozoa he had, likely due to eating something he found outside that was infected. He spent all day Thursday in the hospital on an IV with fluids and antibiotics. He got to spend the night at home on Thursday night, but had to leave his catheter in tact for his subsequent IV treatments.
He is back in the hospital today with another full day of IV fluids and antibiotics. The doctor says he should be fine and is glad we came in when we did. Left untreated even for a few days, this could have caused Max's organs to stop functioning.
Max is now on a low fat diet and will start eating Royal Canin upon his return from the hospital. Absolutely no more "people food" for Max and even his doggie treats must be carefully monitored.