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Acute Pancreatitis

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Filed in Cats, Dogs, Health

The pancreas is a small organ that sits nestled between bowel loops of the upper small intestine. This small, spongy organ is responsible for helping with digestion, especially of fats, and also for insulin secretion (blood sugar regulation). The pancreas is cantankerous and can easily be irritated. Acute pancreatitis is a potentially life-threatening illness, usually brought on by a dietary indiscretion, especially a high fat treat. Some pets, especially dogs, seem to be able to eat anything without getting sick. However, many pets that eat something they are not supposed to will get mild to severe gastrointestinal upset (vomiting, diarrhea). Some will suffer from the more severe problem of pancreatitis.

Dogs and cats can both suffer from acute pancreatitis. Abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea are the most common symptoms. These pets often run high fevers and have uncontrollable vomiting. Early veterinary treatment is vital. Physical examination usually reveals a fever and painful abdomen. Blood tests are important to measure dehydration, abnormal blood cell counts, and possibly elevated pancreatic enzymes. Severe cases of pancreatitis can sometimes result in kidney failure, so monitoring lab work is very important. Intravenous fluids, antibiotics, and pain medications help alleviate the symptoms of the disease. When the pancreas is inflamed, nothing can be given orally, not even water or medication. Anything that enters the stomach can further aggravate the already aggravated organ. Extended hospital stays are not unusual and some pets may even need feeding tubes inserted directly into their intestines if the pancreas remains inflamed. After recovery, a high fiber, low fat diet is usually recommended.

Don't take a chance this Thanksgiving. Feed your dogs and cats their usual diet in a special bowl or at the same time that you are sitting down to enjoy your feast.

 

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