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Pancreatitis is the medical term for inflammation of the pancreas. Middle-aged and older pets are at increased risk of developing the disease, and females are more commonly affected than males. Pancreatitis is the most common pancreatic disease of both dogs and cats, but it is notoriously difficult to diagnose. This is especially true in cats.

How Pancreatitis Affects Your Pet

Most cases of pancreatitis have no discernable cause, but this pet health condition has been linked to infectious diseases, drugs, parasites, systemic diseases, surgical complications and other factors. In dogs, many cases of pancreatitis are linked to high-fat diets. In affected pet animals, the digestive enzymes stored in the pancreas are prematurely activated. These corrosive enzymes cause significant tissue damage, bleeding, swelling and inflammation in the pancreas. They also cause necrosis of the surrounding fat. Inflammation becomes generalized and can cause lung damage, kidney damage, inflammation of the heart muscle, organ failure, shock and death.

Common Symptoms of Pancreatitis

Symptoms depend on the severity of the disease. Animals with severe pancreatitis are profoundly ill, and pets with mild cases may show no obvious symptoms. In general, symptoms of pancreatitis in pets are vague, especially in cats, but commonly reported symptoms include the following: Loss of appetite, Vomiting, Weakness, Abdominal pain, Dry or tacky gums and other mucous membranes, Diarrhea, Weight loss, Fever, Lethargy, Trouble breathing, Disorientation and other neurological signs and Jaundice in felines.

Treatments for Pancreatitis

Common treatments include fluid therapy to rehydrate the affected pet and correct electrolyte imbalances, analgesics to control pain and antiemetic medications to control vomiting. If there is evidence of gastrointestinal bleeding, the treating veterinarian will use an antacid. A pet with severe pancreatitis, blood products may be necessary to replenish clotting factors. Other medications are used as needed to control specific symptoms. Most animals with pancreatitis require nutritional support. In dogs, a low-fat diet is an important component of therapy. In cats, dietary fat content is less important. Severely ill animals, especially severely ill cats, may refuse to eat. In some cases, appetite stimulants may be effective. If, however, the affected animal cannot be induced to eat, a feeding tube must be placed. This should remain until the pet's appetite returns. In cats, supplementation with B vitamins can also be helpful. After suffering one bout of pancreatitis, dogs are more likely to suffer subsequent bouts. For this reason, low-fat diets and monitoring are recommended in these animals. 

Breeds Affected

Canine breeds at increased risk of developing this pet health condition include the following: Schnauzer, Yorkshire terrier and Poodle. Siamese cats may also be predisposed to developing this pet disease.

Pet Insurance

When adding a dog or cat to your family you want to make sure your pet is happy, healthy and protected. During its lifetime your pet is exposed to many illnesses and diseases and some breeds are affected by a congenital disease which is a condition existing at birth. At these moments when your pet is ill or maybe needs surgery, you want to be protected for the unexpected and high veterinarian costs.

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