The pancreas is a gland in the abdominal cavity near the stomach and liver that produces enzymes which aid in the digestion of food. The gland also secretes insulin, a hormone that helps to regulate the blood sugar levels. A lack of adequate insulin results in diabetes although most pets with pancreatitis do not develop diabetes. When the pancreas becomes diseased it will often release its digestive enzymes into itself rather than into the intestine where they normally go. The resultant tissue destruction is because the gland is inadvertently digesting itself. It is similar to the snake that lives with its own poison but could die if it bit itself.
There are many different causes of pancreatitis. Excessive levels of fat or cholesterol in the blood can contribute to the problem. Obesity (overweight condition) also predisposes the pet to pancreas disorders. Infectious diseases can be the cause of the problem. Ingestion of rich or fatty foods is the most common cause of pancreatitis is pet animals! When pets are fed from the table (left overs, etc.), get into the garbage, or are given numerous foods by well meaning houseguests, pancreatitis may be the result.
DIAGNOSIS IS BASED ON THE FOLLOWING:
Presence of the above symptoms
Radiographs (x-rays) of the abdomen
Exploratory surgery (for severe or chronic cases)
TREATMENT OF PANCREATITIS:
The most important therapeutic measure is to withhold all food, water and medications for the first 1-3 days. If this is not done the pancreas will continue to spill its digesting enzymes into itself "thinking" it is trying to digest food. Hospitalization, for fluid injections, is often recommended to prevent dehydration. Antibiotics, anti-spasmodics, pain medication and prescription foods are very important after the initial withholding period. These special diets may be recommended for the rest of your pet's life if a chronic condition is suspected.