Tuesday, 09/20/2022

Pancreatitis is among the most common diseases seen in dogs. It occurs when your dog’s pancreas becomes inflamed. This can cause a variety of symptoms, from mild to severe (even fatal). It is crucial to be aware of what signs indicate that pancreatitis may be present in your dog. 

Pancreatitis can affect dogs of all ages. It manifests itself as acute or chronic inflammation in the pancreas. When it’s acute, pancreatitis most commonly appears in small dogs and occurs suddenly after eating fatty or spicy food. 

The symptoms of acute pancreatitis include vomiting and diarrhea, abdominal pain, and increased blood pressure. Pancreatitis can also appear after a more extended period; this form of the disease is referred to as chronic pancreatitis.

Despite increased awareness of new diagnostic tests for pancreatitis, the mortality rate in dogs is high, ranging from 27% to 58%. In this article, we’ll explore more details about the symptoms, causes, and treatment of pancreatitis in dogs. Read on to learn more.

How does Pancreatitis Occur in Dogs?

The pancreas gland located behind the stomach produces digestive enzymes that break down food into simpler substances so your dog can digest it. If your dog has pancreatic inflammation, the pancreas becomes inflamed and swollen. This can cause digestive problems, such as vomiting and diarrhea. 

There are two forms of pancreatitis: acute, which tends to occur suddenly) and chronic (tends to happen over time. Both conditions can be mild or severe, and their clinical signs can be very similar. Types of pancreatitis in dogs include acute, chronic, and unsuspected (idiopathic).

  • Acute pancreatitis may result in severe inflammation of the pancreas that results in severe abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, high fever, and in some cases rapid onset of death. The root cause of acute pancreatitis is often unknown but can result from food or chemical intolerance.
  • Dogs with chronic pancreatitis experience weight loss, followed by vomiting and diarrhea. The prognosis in this is also not reassuring.
  • A few different conditions can cause pancreatic inflammation, resulting in pancreatitis. The common causes of pancreatic inflammation include Food allergies, Parasites, Food poisoning, Toxins, etc.

What are the Symptoms of Pancreatitis in Dogs?

If your dog develops pancreatic inflammation, he’ll likely experience one or more of the following symptoms: 

  • A decreased appetite: Dogs with pancreatic inflammation experience a reduced appetite, leading to weight loss and anorexia. 
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea: A dog with pancreatic inflammation may vomit or experience diarrhea. 
  • Abdominal pain: Your dog may experience pain in her abdomen if pancreatic inflammation. 
  • Swollen abdomen: Pancreatic inflammation can cause an enlarged abdomen in some dogs, which may or may not be painful.

Along with these symptoms, other symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs include:

  • Fever or low body temperature 
  • Lethargy
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Dehydration 
  • Irregular heartbeat

In the ailment, dehydration can lead to an emergency. Dehydration occurs due to rapid vomiting and more significant fluid loss than fluid intake. Diarrhea also can cause dehydration. If your pet shows diarrhea symptoms with vomit and blood in the stool, dehydration can become an emergency. 

When pancreatic inflammation occurs in conjunction with other diseases, such as food allergies, parasite infections, or food sensitivities, the clinical signs of the disease can be more severe. 

What Causes Pancreatitis in Dogs?

The causes of pancreatic inflammation depend on the underlying condition that led to the inflammation in the first place. If you are wondering what foods can cause pancreatitis in dogs, the answer is any fatty foods such as meat, cheeses, etc. 

Acute pancreatitis in dogs is often caused by fatty food such as pork, beef, and other human foods. Hence offering your pet table scraps is not advisable. Especially if your pet consumes a high-fat diet in one sitting, the chances of having pancreatitis increase. Also, pets with dietary indiscretion, obesity, and hypothyroidism are often more vulnerable to the disease. 

There are also cases where genetic predisposition seems to be a significant cause. Especially certain breeds such as Miniature Schnauzers and some of the smaller toy and terrier breeds.

The most common causes of pancreatic inflammation include: 

Food AllergiesFood allergies are common in dogs and can cause pancreatic inflammation. Signs of a food allergy include digestive issues, such as vomiting and diarrhea.
ParasitesIntestinal worms, parasites, and bacteria can cause pancreatic inflammation in dogs. These parasites can be passed from dog to dog or present in contaminated environments, such as a dog park. 
Food AdditivesFood sensitivities such as food additives, chemicals, and proteins can cause pancreatic inflammation in dogs.
TraumaPet having severe trauma and anxiety is also at high risk of developing the disease. 
DiseaseDiabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, liver issues, and Cushing’s disease is another major cause of the ailment. 
ToxinsSome household and environmental toxins, such as zinc and organophosphates, are linked to pancreatitis. 
Toxins, such as cholinesterase inhibitors, phenobarbital, l-asparaginase, potassium bromide, and vinca alkaloids are also the cause behind pet’s developing pancreatitis.
MedicationsThe medication also can lead to inflammation of the pancreas; examples include some chemotherapy medications, corticosteroid therapies, or certain antibiotics.

How to Treat Pancreatitis in Dogs?

The vet tries to figure out what caused pancreatitis and based on that; the treatment is done. For diagnosis, the vet performs

  • Blood tests to measure pancreatic enzymes. 
  • Physical examination including stomach, gums, and heart. 
  • Radiographs or ultrasound

Based on the diagnosis, vets lead the treatment process. If the root cause is if it was a reaction to a drug, they then take it off; if the reason is related to diet, they may put your pet on prescription food.

Injectable pain medications are prescribed, and offer your pet IV fluids to keep your pet hydrated. The vet has also prescribed medication for nausea and vomiting. 

Drugs used to treat pancreatitis in dogs:

  • Omeprazole (antacid)
  • Cerenia (anti-nausea medication)
  • Pain medications
  • Antibiotics (used in severe cases to prevent bacteria)
  •  Trazodone for dog anxiety

While you wait for your dog to recover from pancreatic inflammation, you can feed him a low-fat diet to ease his digestion and help him heal. Also, don’t force your pet to eat if it doesn’t feel like it; let him rest and recover. Before offering your pet any diet, it is suggested that you consult your vet.

The best way to prevent pancreatic inflammation in dogs is to prevent your dog from eating food that she is allergic to or that causes her pain. Also, make sure your dog is up to date on her vaccinations. Certain diseases, such as parvovirus, can cause your dog to develop pancreatic inflammation. If you notice any pancreatic inflammation in your dog, contact your veterinarian immediately. 


To under the ailment better, let’s see the types of pancreatitis in dogs and the symptoms:


Pancreatic inflammation is a serious condition that can cause severe abdominal pain and damage to the pancreas in dogs. Consult with a vet if your pet has other health conditions, such as diabetes mellitus. Prevention of pancreatic disease may suggest anti-nausea medications, anti-inflammatory medications, pentoxifylline, antioxidants, or nutritional supplements like omega-3 fatty acids.

Many dogs recover entirely and live happy lives. However, the high risk of another bout of pancreatitis in the dog’s life remains high. The prognosis of the ailment depends on the severity, health conditions, when the treatment is initiated, and how a pet body responds to the initial treatment.

During chronic pancreatitis, some dogs may also damage organs, like the bile duct, from all the inflammation. These after-illness complications require to be addressed during or shortly after pancreatitis treatment.

 Also, the long-suffering from the disease may lead to EPI or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, leading to long-term digestive issues. Hence ensure to be vigilant about the signs of the pancreas in dogs, and consult your vet as soon as possible.

Disclaimer: The content on the site is for educational purposes only, and it does not provide medical advice. The shared information must not be treated as a substitute for or alternative for medical practitioner advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Regarding any concerns about your pet’s health, seeking veterinary guidance is of utmost necessity. Each pet has specific health, fitness & nutrition needs. Do not disregard, avoid or delay pet health-related advice from veterinarians based on reading the information provided on this site.


  1. Can pancreatitis in dogs be recovered?

Most dogs suffering from the ailment recover without long-term consequences. However, with repeated episodes of pancreatitis, one or more health issues may develop. Acute pancreatitis can reoccur or become chronic and may eventually lead to diabetes.

  1. What foods cause pancreatitis in dogs?

Fatty foods such as high-fat meat like pork and beef can trigger pancreatitis if a dog eats fatty food. One of the most common foods involved in the cause of pancreatitis is pork or pork products. Refrain from offering your pet ham, sausage, and pepperoni as the fat in pork products tax G.I tract and disrupts the enzymes. 

  1. For how long does pancreatitis last in dogs?

Pets suffering from mild cases of pancreatitis recover after 2 to 4 days of therapy. However, severe cases may require a hospital stay of two weeks or longer. After your dog leaves the hospital, it may take 1 to 2 weeks to fully recover.

  1. How to prevent pancreatitis in dogs?

Avoid offering your pet high-fat treats, table scraps, or other fatty foods to prevent ailments. Consult your vet for a balanced diet if your pet is overweight or obese; also, it is suggested to adopt an exercise routine for your pet to lose weight. Offer high-quality dog food with guaranteed probiotics and prebiotics for intestinal health. If your canine exhibits any signs of pancreatitis, consult your veterinarian immediately.

  1. How to prevent pancreatitis in dogs?

Pancreatitis in dogs is relatively common and can occur in any age, breed, or gender. However, the symptoms of illness can vary in intensity from mild to severe. The prognosis & survival rate for dogs with mild to moderate pancreatitis are good. Dogs with severe pancreatitis have a 33% death rate within 30 days.



Alex Schechter

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