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The pancreas is an organ in the abdomen that produces substances that are critical for digestion and normal metabolism. Pancreatitis is a sudden onset of inflammation within the pancreas. Dogs and cats typically present with a variety of symptoms. These can range from mild signs such as inappetence, dehydration and lethargy to more severe signs such as vomiting, painful abdomen, diarrhoea or collapse. It is suspected that a high fat diet (or an unusually fatty meal) plays an important role in allowing pancreatitis to occur. Some medications/disease processes are also thought to contribute to the development of pancreatitis.

Diagnosis of pancreatitis is based on obtaining and thorough history, full physical exam, specific CPLi test and routine blood and urine tests to determine the degree of inflammation, dehydration and other concurrent problems that could be occurring. Abdominal x-rays help to rule out other problems within the abdomen and an ultrasound of the abdomen is extremely valuable for identifying specific changes in the appearance and structure of the pancreas. The symptoms of pancreatitis are often non-specific and so without further testing can be hard to differentiate from other conditions.

There is no definitive ‘cure’ for pancreatitis, however most dogs and cats respond to treatment that involves medications that help the pancreas to heal and supportive care that resolves the symptoms associated with pancreatitis. In hospital care often involves, intravenous fluid therapy, anti-nausea medication, pain relief +/- anti-biotics and electrolyte supplements. Pancreatitis may be triggered again in the future by inappropriate food, therefore it is important to feed only diets that are of an appropriate fat composition and nutrient profile for patients with a history of pancreatitis.

When your dog or cat is ready to be discharged from hospital for care at home, your Veterinarian will discuss ongoing treatment that will need to be carried out. It is important to give medications as directed and feed the appropriate and recommended food in order to allow recovery from pancreatitis and prevent further episodes from occurring. Information obtained from: Image sourced from:

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