dog health

Acute pancreatitis in dogs

Acute (sudden) pancreatitis in dog can be detected if the animal shows symptoms like vomiting, severe pain in abdomen, weight loss, weakness, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, etc. Many a time, the animal finally needs to be treated under a critical care setting. Here’s more about this disease.

The disease…dog health

The occurrence of acute pancreatitis is associated with the activation of trypsinogen to trypsin which occurs inside the cells of pancreas. Trypsin is required for protein breakdown in the small intestine. Several undesirable stimuli are thought to be associated with this activation process. Once trypsin is activated, it sets in a cascade of events activating other inactive pancreatic enzymes causing pancreatic damage–a sort of auto or self-digestion, inflammation, edema, etc. Though the exact cause is not known, several factors like hyperlipidemia, high fat meal, obesity and administration of certain drugs may be the inciting cause of acute pancreatitis.

The signs…

Intensity of clinical signs varies from mild to severe. Mild forms may not show any clinical sign except mild uneasiness and loss of appetite. In more severe cases, anorexia, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and weakness may be seen. Severe cases which go untreated may even proceed to a shock stage depending on the severity and the time taken or intervention. In some cases, signs suggestive of systemic involvement like fever, respiratory distress may also be seen. Neurological signs, if seen, are termed as pancreatic encephalopathy.

The diagnosis…

Proper physical examination and blood test can determine the increase in neutrophil count, decrease in platelet count and anaemia. But it is not the ultimate confirmation test for acute pancreatitis. Ultrasonography is considered more specific especially with an experienced hand. Surgical exploration and biopsy procedures are also useful techniques to diagnose acute pancreatitis.

The treatment…

Once a diagnosis is reached, treatment should be initiated based on the condition of the patient. Less severe cases can be managed with fluid and electrolyte therapy. Pain can be managed with analgesics. Ideally, animal should be maintained without any food orally. Antibiotics are indicated only in cases of pancreatic infections. Peritoneal lavage, a procedure to determine internal bleeding in abdomen, may help in removal of harmful substances which may be released into peritoneal cavity and which is quite doable. Severe cases require constant attention. If shock occurs, emergency procedures may need to be initiated for its management.

(Dr Madhavan Unny N is Assistant Professor at Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Kerala).