This causes inflamation of the pancreas and the nearby liver. Canine Pancreatitis most commonly occurs in middle-age, overweight dogs. However, it also occurs in dogs not fitting that category.
The condition usually appears suddenly, with an attack of Pancreatitis ranging from mild to severe, sometimes leading to death. The Pancreatic attack may occur as a result of the dog raiding the garbage can or a sudden change in food. A dog that normally has a moderate amount of fat in his/her diet may have a Pancreatitis attack after just one high-fat meal.
When a significant amount of the pancreas tissue is damaged, it cannot produce insulin. This causes the dog to become diabetic, which may be a temporary or permanent condition, depending on the ability of the dog's pancreas to recover.
Certain health conditions can predispose a dog to Canine Pancreatitis, including diabetes, hypothyroidism and hypercalcemia (elevated calcium levels).
Your vet will gather a blood sample from your dog and send it to the lab; his/her clinic will not have the equipment to process the test.
Prior to the recent introduction of Spec cPL, the Pancreatic Lipase Immunoreactivity test (PLI) was widely used but it had a huge drawback. Test results could only be run at Texas A & M University, which patented the technology. This meant an often slow turnaround on a test for a dog that may be suffering a life-threatening Pancreatitis attack. In some cases, test results were not availble for two weeks!
Other methods for diagnosing Canine Pancreatitis include ultrasound and radiograph. Neither of these, however, offer the accuracy of the Spec cPL test. While exploratory surgery is also an option, it is invasive (although offering a definitive diagnosis) and a veterinarin is not likely to choose this method now that the Spec cPL test is available.
However, if test results are inconclusive, which happens in a small percentage of cases, your vet may feel exploratory surgery is necessary in order to make a diagnosis.
In some cases an antibiotic may be given if there are signs of a secondary infection, such as very high or very low white blood cell count and high body temperature. Critically ill dogs may also be given plasma to prevent shock.
Once the dog is eating again, a low-fat diet will be prescribed. To reduce the possibility of another pancreatic attack, the dog should be fed this type of diet for the rest of his or her life.
Once the patient is in recovery and eating a low-fat diet, supplements of vitamins A and E may be added, since a low-fat diet can cause a deficiency in these vitamins. Vitamin C may also be added as well as herbs like Yarrow to strengthen the pancreas and improve its efficiency. Homeopathic remedies are available for both the crisis and recovery stages. To consult with a holistic veterinarian, contact the
American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association.
Dr. Donald Strombeck, DVM, has written Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets: The Healthful Alternative. This book includes recipes for dogs with Canine Pancreatitis as well as other health conditions. Click on the link to read a review of the book and view sample recipes. Dr. Strombeck specializes in internal veterinary medicine at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine.
A number of manufacturers with a reputation for quality offer low-fat food for Canine Pancreatitis sufferers. These include Wellness, Canidae, Avoderm and Innova.
It is preferable to feed a number of small meals throughout the day rather than one big meal. Food should always be served at room temperature to aid the digestive tract in doing its job.
And since this health issue is frequently found in overweight dogs, it is yet another reason to behave like a best friend and ensure your dog does not overeat, and is fed high-quality food. Choosing a high-quality food is one of the best things you can do for your dog.
Don't Miss Out! Get the Latest