Pancreatitis in Dogs

"Kiko"’s story and Pancreatitis in Dogs

Eight-year-old “Kiko” was a beautiful, slim, Silver-Grey Whippet. Her wonderful silver coat shimmered in the sunlight as she pranced jauntily out on her walks in the park. “Kiko” was a very pretty girl, and she knew it!  

Today was different. She arrived at the surgery and I could tell immediately that she was in some pain. Her back was arched and hunched, she was very withdrawn and subdued and occasional whimpering.   

On her examination I could feel that her tummy was tense and “tight”, and she was extremely uncomfortable as I gently palpated forward feeling her abdomen under her rib cage. Her tummy was a making a lot of noise rumblings and burbling's.  

“Poor Kiko has been very sick,” her owner relayed. “I cannot think what she may have eaten we are normally so careful about her diet and keep a very strict eye on her.”  .. “Our Grandchildren have been visiting us more recently as we have been helping out with their childcare more, so she may have been given the odd extra titbits and treats, but that is all.”  

“Kiko” was certainly extremely uncomfortable over her abdomen and she was quickly becoming quite dehydrated as she had been so sick. I gave her some injectable medications immediately to relieve her nausea and her tummy pain and I arranged for some tests to be done to try to find out what was wrong.  

“Kiko” had to be admitted to the Hospital for an intravenous drip as she had been vomiting repeatedly. and I arranged for her to have some Blood tests and an Xray and Ultrasound scan of her abdomen.  

The Blood tests, Xray and Ultrasound scan confirmed our suspicions that “Kiko” had pancreatitis, which had caused her symptoms of abdominal pain and vomiting. Thankfully after her injectable treatments and drip she was already feeling a lot better and much more comfortable and she wagged her tail at me when I checked her over later that day.  

Her acute pancreatitis may have been triggered by a change of her usual diet regime. A strict low-fat diet was advised along with some additional pain relief and antacid medications and supplements to support her digestive and pancreatic systems.  

“Kiko” responded very quickly and very well and she was soon back to her old perky, pretty, flirtatious self.   

I advised feeding a low-fat diet on-going and close monitoring would be advised for her now as unfortunately she may now be prone to occasional similar episodes. Her owner was keen to avoid this, so he rigidly stuck to her advised treatment plan and other than one or two very mild "rumbly tummies" she has been much more comfortable and settled since. 

The pancreas is a delicate organ that sits alongside the small intestine. It is a particularly important organ, and its purpose is to help digest food and to regulate blood sugar. 

The term pancreatitis is when the pancreas is inflamed and swollen. Pancreatitis is typically described as either chronic or acute, with chronic meaning the condition has developed over some time, while acute is when it appears suddenly. 

Dogs with pancreatitis are likely to suffer from a loss of appetite, sickness, diarrhoea, and lethargy. They may also have abdominal pain and become dehydrated. In milder forms, symptoms are not as obvious but may still include loss of appetite, lethargy, and diarrhoea. During an attack of pancreatitis, dogs may hunch their back, holding their rear end in the air with their front legs and head lowered onto the floor, in an odd “praying” stance. 

The prognosis for pancreatitis depends on the severity of the disease. Mild cases may just require a change of diet, while more severe cases will need urgent aggressive medical treatment. If left untreated, pancreatitis may lead to severe organ damage and even sudden death. So, you should contact your vet straight away if your dog is showing any signs of this disease 


Alison Laure-Chalmers 

Senior Consultant 

Crown Vets 

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