There are two types of pancreatectomy in dogs, partial and full. In a partial pancreas removal surgery, only the diseased portion of the organ is removed; the remainder functions, but not as well. In the rare full pancreatectomy, the entire pancreas is removed. The pancreas has the jobs of producing insulin and producing enzymes for digestion -- so the dog with a fully removed pancreas will instantly develop type 1 diabetes.
In type 1 diabetes, insulin levels fluctuate wildly, making them difficult to regulate. When the pancreas is removed in a full pancreatectomy, the dog becomes an instant type 1 diabetic. He must be given digestive enzymes and have multiple insulin injections every day for life. This type of diabetes can be regulated in the dog but takes constant supervision and multiple trips to the veterinarian to get the insulin levels adjusted properly.
The partial removal of the pancreas can sometimes result in pancreatic insufficiency, which is the result of having lowered insulin and digestive enzyme levels in the body. This is known as type 2 diabetes. The pancreas still functions and produces enzymes and insulin, but doesn't produce enough of them. In this case, enzymes are supplemented in the diet, and certain levels of insulin are injected and maintained. This condition is easier to regulate than with a full pancreatectomy.
After pancreas removal, the dog experiences extreme thirst, hunger and malnourishment, unable to properly process food. He loses weight rapidly while still trying to eat. He has high glucose levels, he's lethargic and vomiting, and suffers from dehydration and weakness, often leading to coma. Cataracts are common, along with liver disease and nervous system disorders. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a dangerous condition in diabetic dogs. If you suspect it, the dog needs to be taken to the veterinarian immediately.
Type 1 diabetes that results from a complete pancreatectomy can lead to lifelong suffering for the affected pooch, in the form of digestive problems and multiple organ failures. When type 1 diabetes is controlled through constant medical intervention and insulin regulation, the dog can live a normal and healthy life. Some owners still choose to euthanize their ailing animals due to the expense and suffering, but these days that's one of various options.
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