Pancreatitis -- inflammation of the pancreas -- leads to metabolic problems and pain. Digestive enzymes in your dog’s pancreas are released, where they can start to dissolve the liver and other organs. Your dog will need intensive care, from fluid therapy to dietary alterations.
The "Merck Veterinary Manual" lists intravenous fluids as the cornerstone of therapy to help correct dehydration from vomiting or diarrhea, as well as to maintain normal hydration. Electrolytes such as potassium may be lost with pancreatitis, and fluids can supplement these losses. Plasma can provide adjunctive therapy for depleted blood clotting components and may helps stop pancreatic enzymes in your dog’s blood.
Pancreatitis is painful, so therapy is a common treatment. Your veterinarian may recommend short-acting medication to give as your dog needs it or she may recommend regular infusions of fentanyl for more intense pain. Your dog has to be assessed regularly for comfort.
After diagnosing pancreatitis, your veterinarian will determine if your dog must fast. Because fats are not readily digested in affected dogs, they should eat lowfat diets. Prescription diets including Hill’s i/d and Royal Canin’s gastrointestinal low-fat diets are often prescribed because they are a formulated for gastrointestinal distress.
Some dogs are nauseated and reluctant to eat. You may need to give anti-nausea medication. With gastrointestinal upset, antacids are an option. Antibiotics are utilized if an infectious agent has led to the pancreatitis or a pancreatic abscess is present.
Elizabeth Muirhead is a practicing veterinarian with an undergraduate degree in biological sciences. She has real-world experience with the husbandry, grooming, training and feeding a variety of household pets.