Health & Nutrition | Dogs | Cats | December 24, 2014

Pancreatitis in dogs and cats

A cat in front of a window

It’s that time of year when all kinds of rich foods find their way into your house. Turkey, ham, all that wonderful baking, chocolate, desserts… Mmmmm, yummy! But too much rich food can cause real health problems for your pet, which can be life threatening.

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, which is part of the endocrine and digestive system, and produces the enzymes that digest food, producing insulin. When the pancreas becomes inflamed, then the flow of those digestive enzymes can become disrupted and force them out of the pancreas into the abdominal area. When this occurs, the body will in effect begin digesting itself, as the enzymes begin to break down proteins and fats in other organs as well as the pancreas.

Symptoms and diagnosis are very different for dogs and cats.  Pancreatitis can be very difficult to diagnose in cats as symptoms are often mild and easy to miss. The most common symptoms are lack of appetite and lethargy so if these occur, take your kitty to the vet for testing. Unfortunately, the cause of pancreatitis in cats is largely unknown which means prevention is difficult to pinpoint.

In dogs, symptoms can be more obvious, chronic and re-occurring. Dogs will more often show marked symptoms which can include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Belly pain
  • Diarrhea
  •  Lack of energy
  • Dehydration
  • Fever or low body temperature

Pancreatitis can be a side effect of drugs or surgery, but more often obese dogs and those who eat too many rich foods or fatty treats are prone to this disease. In the case of an acute attack, they may need to be hospitalized and treated for dehydration and pain.

The causes are more clear-cut in dogs and a low fat diet is recommended. Often pancreatitis and diabetes go hand in hand, and diabetic dogs are sometimes encouraged to go on a low carb diet.  However, these foods are often higher in fat and protein so they may not be a good solution for the dog with pancreatitis. NOW FRESH Senior dog can be a good recipe to feed dogs with pancreatitis as coconut oil is used as a fat source. Coconut oil is very palatable and the Medium Chain Trigylcerides found in it do not require the use of the pancreas to be broken down.

So, resist the temptation to feed your pup any turkey leftovers or rich human foods this Holiday Season and let Fido munch on healthy treats like carrots or made-for-doggy treats.

Normal pancreas
Inflamed pancreas