Pancreatitis in dogs – symptoms and treatment

Tuesday September 13, 2016

You share much in common with your dog, including the way your pancreas functions. A vital organ in both you and your dog, the pancreas releases enzymes to help break down and digest food, and produces hormones which help regulate blood sugar levels. Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed, causing digestive enzymes to leak into the abdominal cavity and breaking down healthy tissues. Aside from potentially causing severe pain, in severe cases of pancreatitis, toxic remnants of destroyed tissue can enter your dog’s bloodstream and cause widespread damage.

Most commonly presenting as an acute disease – meaning that the symptoms and disease develop quickly, Pancreatitis can also be a chronic disease – occurring at a low level over a longer period of time with more mild symptoms.



While the pancreas can become inflamed for a number of different reasons, there is thought to be an increased risk of the disease developing in dogs with a high presence of fats in their bloodstream. This may be due to a high fat diet, obesity, insufficient exercise, or the presence of another underlying disease which may elevate the fat content of your dog’s blood.

Acute pancreatitis may develop after your dog eats just one very fatty meal, and so it is of particular risk in dogs who are allowed to overindulge in unhealthy table scraps or if rich treats are on offer. Chronic pancreatitis is more likely to develop in dogs with an irregular or inconsistent diet over the course of their life.

Feeding your dog a nutritious, whole food based diet with a daily serve of Dig-In Digestive Gravy Powder, gives them a great baseline for ongoing health. If you’re unsure what human foods are good for your dog, you can download at the bottom of this blog post our FREE ‘Can My Dog Eat This?’ poster which details what food your dog can and can’t eat.


The most common symptoms of pancreatitis include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Abdominal pain

If your dog shows any of these symptoms for more than a day, or if you notice a continued recurrence of symptoms, get your pooch off to the vet for a check-up.


The treatment for pancreatitis varies depending on the particular symptoms and severity of inflammation. After diagnosis, treatment may include intravenous fluids to stabilise fluid levels, anti-nausea medication, antibiotics and pain relief.

If caught early, dogs suffering from pancreatitis will most likely recover completely. However to help prevent future reoccurrences, your vet may recommend your dog follows a low fat, high fibre diet. If left undiagnosed and untreated, severe cases of pancreatitis may be life threatening.

Maintaining your dog at a healthy weight and avoiding fatty foods may help to reduce the risk of your dog developing pancreatitis. The main challenge for you will be to resist those puppy dog eyes which plead for another serving of unhealthy table scraps and fatty treats. Remember there are plenty of healthy foods and treats your canine companion can enjoy – refer to our FREE ‘Can My Dog Eat This?’ poster to help you make more informed food choices for your dog.