At East Valley Animal Hospital in Gilbert, we tend to see a marked rise in cases of pancreatitis in dogs over the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas holidays. The culprit? Higher exposure to holiday treats, foods, and scraps. Over the next three months, families will be hosting parties, baking traditional treats, and celebrating with lavish meals. This abundance of food increases the chance your pup will get his paws on some of your human food. 

What is Pancreatitis in Dogs 

The pancreas is an organ shared by all mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Among its many functions, the pancreas serves to provide your four-legged friend with much needed digestive enzymes and insulin. 

In a healthy dog, the digestive enzymes produced in the pancreas become active only once they reach the small intestine, where they begin to break down proteins, fats, and other food compounds. But when a dog has pancreatitis, the enzymes become active as soon as they are released in the pancreas, causing inflammation and damaging the pancreas and surrounding tissue. Essentially, the pancreas begins to digest itself, resulting in extreme pain and other symptoms. 

Chronic and Acute Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis exists in two forms: chronic and acute. Chronic pancreatitis refers to an ongoing inflammation of the pancreas and is usually less severe. Acute pancreatitis, on the other hand, strikes suddenly and can often be fatal. This life-threatening, latter form of pancreatitis is the one we most commonly see over the holiday season. For that reason, if you believe your dog has consumed a large amount of sweets or human food, we recommend keeping a close eye on him and calling the vet if you observe even the slightest signs or symptoms.  

Risk Factors of Pancreatitis

There are a number of underlying causes and potential risk factors that lead to the development of pancreatitis. Some of these factors include: 

  • A diet high in fat, or the consumption of a large helping of fatty foods in one sitting
  • Obesity
  • Endocrine diseases such as hypothyroidism
  • Certain medications or toxin exposure
  • Genetic predisposition

Symptoms of Pancreatitis 

The most common symptoms that your dog may be experiencing from pancreatitis include: 

  • Loss of appetite 
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen and tender abdomen
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Fever 

Another sign that your dog may have entered stages of pancreatitis is displayed in his posture. In an effort to relieve abdominal pain, your dog may begin to hunch his back or take a “praying pose” where he comes down on his front legs and keeps his rear lifted. 

Your Local Vet in Gilbert 

With this in mind, At East Valley Animal Hospital in Gilbert, we highly recommend keeping an eye on your pups and making sure all holiday treats are out of their reach. In the event that something happens, our team of veterinary doctors and staff are expertly trained and equipped to handle any urgent care needs your pet has, including pancreatitis in dogs. We are here for you and your pet each week from Monday-Saturday. 


Image by HomeMaker from Pixabay (10/24/2019)