The pancreas is part of the endocrine and digestive systems. When a condition occurs to cause inflammation of the pancreas, its flow of enzymes into the digestive tract can become disrupted, forcing the enzymes out of the pancreas and into the abdominal area. The digestive enzymes will begin to break down fat and proteins in the other organs, as well as in the pancreas. In effect, the body begins to digest itself.

Inflammation of the pancreas (or pancreatitis) often progresses rapidly in dogs, but can often be treated without any permanent damage to the organ. However, if pancreatitis goes long-term without treatment, severe organ damage can occur.

There are a variety of symptoms that may be observed in the animals, including

fever, vomiting and diarrhoea, loss of appetite, severe abdominal pain.

There are several possible causes of inflammation to the pancreas. Some of them are nutritional factors, such as high levels of fat in the blood, trauma to the pancreas, and some drugs or toxins. Obesity, linked to a high fat and low carbohydrate diet has also been shown to be a risk factor for this inflammatory disorder.

Even without the presence of a high fat diet, an animal can have an episode of pancreatic inflammation after eating a large amount of fatty food. Inflammation of the pancreas is also more common in females than in males, and more common in elderly dogs.

Pancreatitis can often be confirmed by a blood test and an ultrasound scan can be performed to look at the structure of the pancreas.

Inflammation of the pancreas can often be treated using intravenous fluid therapy. If the inflammation is being caused by a medication your dog is taking, the medication will be withdrawn immediately. Oral food and fluids may be stopped for a few days to give the pancreas time to rest, and to slow the production of digestive enzymes. If vomiting is persistent, drugs can be prescribed to help control it, and if your dog is experiencing severe pain, pain relievers can be given along with antibiotics as a preventive against infection.

When food is resumed, bland, low fat, high carbohydrate, easily digestible food will be recommended until the condition has cleared thoroughly. If the pancreatitis was severe, or is chronic (recurring), this food plan may need to be fixed permanently to protect your dog’s pancreas and internal organs.

Preventative measures such as weight reduction and avoiding high fat diets may help to avoid the reoccurrence of condition.