At Anasazi Animal Clinic in Gilbert, we see a marked rise in cases of pancreatitis in dogs over the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas holidays. The culprit? A higher exposure to holiday treats, foods, and scraps. During the next three months, families are hosting parties, baking traditional treats, and celebrating with lavish meals. All of these things mean your pup has a greater chance of getting his paws on some of your human food.

What is Pancreatitis in Dogs?

Believe it or not, the pancreas is an organ shared by all mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Among its many functions, the pancreas serves to provide your four-legged friend’s body with much needed digestive enzymes and insulin. Medically speaking, pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas and is often stimulated when a dog’s diet is high in fat.

In the healthy pancreas of a dog, the digestive enzymes produced in the pancreas become active only once they reach the small intestine, where they begin to break down proteins, fats, and other food compounds. But when a dog has pancreatitis, the enzymes become active as soon as they are released in the pancreas, causing inflammation and damaging the pancreas and surrounding tissue. Essentially, the pancreas begins to digest itself, resulting in extreme pain and other symptoms.

Symptoms of Pancreatitis in Dogs

The most common symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen and tender abdomen
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Fever

Another sign that your dog may have entered stages of pancreatitis is displayed in his posture. In an effort to relieve abdominal pain, your dog may begin to hunch their back or take a “praying pose” where they come down on their front legs and keep their rear lifted.

Pancreatitis exists in two forms: chronic and acute. Chronic pancreatitis refers to an ongoing inflammation of the pancreas and is usually less severe. However, acute pancreatitis strikes suddenly and can be fatal. For that reason, if you suspect your dog is showing signs of pancreatitis, call your local vet immediately.  

At Anasazi Animal Clinic, our team of veterinary doctors and staff are expertly trained and equipped to handle any urgent care needs your pet has, including pancreatitis in dogs. We are here for you and your pet each week from Monday-Saturday.


Photo by Matthew Henry from  Burst (10/14/2018)