What is Pancreatitis in Dogs?

mt. carmel animal hospital pancreatitis in dogs

Learn more about pancreatitis in dogs and the signs to watch out for.

Do you ever think about your dog’s risk of pancreatitis? Whether you do or not, read our animal hospital’s article to learn more about pancreatitis in dogs and the signs to watch out for.

What is It?

Pancreatitis is a disease that impacts the pancreas in animals. The pancreas is a vital organ in the abdominal cavity that generates enzymes the body utilizes to digest food. Pancreatitis in dogs occurs when the pancreas suffers inflammation. Acute pancreatitis may be mild or severe and can result in secondary damage to the bile ducts, liver, intestines, and gall bladder. Some canines who recover from an acute episode of pancreatitis might develop chronic pancreatitis.

Causes and Risk Factors

Even though pancreatitis in dogs can often be caused by a fatty meal or corticosteroid administration, the exact cause is unknown. With pancreatitis, pancreatic enzymes are activated earlier in the pancreas than later in the small intestine. In addition, the clinical signs of pancreatitis in dogs often vary, and the intensity of the disease will depend on the amount of prematurely activated enzymes.


The diagnosis of pancreatitis in dogs is typically made with laboratory testing. The results might reveal elevations in white blood cells or pancreatic enzymes such as amylase and lipase. Lipase is released from organs other than the pancreas. As a result, the diagnosis of pancreatitis in dogs might be presumptive or tentative in some cases and depend on a combination of medical history and clinical signs, and laboratory test results.

Abdominal ultrasound can also aid in diagnosis to visualize the pancreas for signs of inflammation. Also, rule out other possible causes for the symptoms. A more specific test known as the Spec cPL is an immunoassay that measures pancreatic lipase exclusively, allowing for a more definitive diagnosis.


Successful pancreatitis management will depend on prompt medical therapy and early diagnosis. With mild pancreatitis, the treatment works by resting the pancreas and allowing the body to recover itself. This is achieved by feeding your pet a low-fat diet for a while. Your dog may be given antiemetics to help with vomiting and subcutaneous fluids to avoid dehydration. In more severe cases, hospitalization will be necessary. Analgesics and IV fluids will be given to your dog to control the intense pain and maintain adequate hydration.

These cases will also require IV medications to control diarrhea or vomiting. Intensive care with aggressive doses of IV fluids and medications can be necessary in most severe cases if your dog shows signs of systemic shock. Once your dog’s acute pancreatitis is under control, management is a significant factor in long-term treatment success. This is typically achieved through lifelong diet modification and medications as needed.


Mount Carmel Animal Hospital has been serving the Northern Baltimore/Southern York community for over 30 years and is proud to be an independently operated, small animal practice committed to excellence in veterinary medicine and client service. From grooming to wellness services, along with Canine Life Skills Training Courses, and surgical procedures, we have the expertise that will best serve the needs of you and your pet. Contact us at 410-343-0200 and follow us on Facebook!

This entry was posted on Friday, December 1st, 2023 at 2:43 pm. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.