Pancreatitis in Pets

Vomiting and anorexia combined is one of the most common reasons for owners to bring their pets in to the clinic. Apart from the simple problem like gastroenteritis or even foreign bodies, pancreatitis is also another cause for vomiting and anorexia.

Most patients with acute pancreatitis are anorexic, lethargic, and vomiting. Most dogs feel painful when we palpate the abdomen, some have fever and some may become jaundice if severe. In cats, they are less likely to vomit, but more likely to involve the liver, and hence often refer as ‘triaditis’ - having pancreatitis, hepatitis, and enteritis.

Pancreas' function is to digest protein, carbohydrate and lipids, and there is a security system so that it does not digest the organ surrounding it. However, when pancreas is inflamed or has diseases, this security system may malfunction.

Pancreatitis in both dogs and cats is a serious disease, it can be life threatening and treatment should not be delayed. When we suspect our patient are with pancreatitis, we usually will need a simple blood test, a special test called cPLi or fPLi for dogs and cats respectively, and often also require abdominal ultrasound to get a definitive diagnosis.

Once diagnosis is made, treatment should start. Most patients are required to be hospitalised and stabilised with IV fluids and nutritional support. In cats, they often need a nasogastric tube or an oesophageal tube for nutritional support to prevent further complication.

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