• Like us on
  • Follow us on
  • Follow us on
  • Follow us on

Pancreatitis in Dogs – Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

By Scott Lackenby | Dated June 2, 2015

What is pancreatitis?

The pancreas is located in the abdomen of dogs. It is a gland that is important both for digestion and for producing hormones such as insulin. In dogs, it is fairly common for the pancreas to become inflamed, causing a condition called pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can occur in any breed, age or gender of dog. Pancreatitis can come on quickly as acute pancreatitis and may not recur. It can also return in recurring bouts of chronic pancreatitis. Cases of both can be considered mild or severe.

pancreatitis in dogs, pancreatitis signs, pancreatitis symptoms, pancreatitis treatment, dog cancer treatment, dog pain treatment, north shore vet, st ives vet

The pancreas is located in the abdomen of dogs

What causes pancreatitis?

The exact cause of pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas) is unknown, but there are risk factors that contribute to it. In a healthy dog, the pancreas produces enzymes for digestion that do not start working until they reach the small intestine. However, when the pancreas is inflamed the enzymes leak and begin to digest the pancreas itself. This makes it more inflamed.

Some factors that contribute to the onset of pancreatitis include:

  • Obesity – Overweight dogs are more likely to develop pancreatitis
  • Eating a very fatty meal such as table scraps / garbage
  • Hyperlipidaemia – Some dogs have a metabolic problem where the fat builds up in their blood
  • Infection – Can be bacterial or viral
  • Cancer – Dogs can develop pancreatic cancer
  • Side effect of drugs – For example long term use of cortisone


What symptoms will my dog show?

The common symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting (and occasionally diarrhoea)
  • Fever
  • Abdominal Pain (shown by a dog arching its back or tensing abdominal muscles)
  • Reluctance to walk / Lethargy


pancreatitis in dogs, pancreatitis signs, pancreatitis symptoms, pancreatitis treatment, dog cancer treatment, dog pain treatment, north shore vet, st ives vet

Pancreatitis in dogs has some common symptoms

The symptoms of pancreatitis are variable and range from mild to very severe, causing death if not treated immediately. Therefore, if you are at all concerned about your dog, a veterinary examination as soon as possible is very important.

How is pancreatitis treated?

Pancreatitis in dogs is treated by hospitalisation at the vet. Dogs are placed on an intravenous drip to prevent dehydration from their vomiting. To enable the pancreas to recover from being inflamed, vets treat dogs by taking all food and water away for at least 24 hours. Medications are given such as anti-vomiting, antibiotics and anti inflammatories to control their pain. Simple cases of pancreatitis take about 4-5 days to recover completely. When your dog is discharged from hospital it is put on a low fat diet. This diet should be fed long term to reduce the chance of the pancreatitis returning.

Will my dog recover from pancreatitis?

The acute, mild cases of pancreatitis in dogs are usually recovered from uneventfully and dogs suffer no long term effects. The severe cases can sometimes be fatal as dogs can go into shock. Some dogs that recover from an acute episode of pancreatitis may continue to have recurrent bouts of the disease known as chronic, relapsing pancreatitis. This is where the digestive enzymes keep spilling into the abdomen and cause damage to surrounding organs, such as the liver, gall bladder, bile ducts and intestines. Infection of the pancreas is uncommon but can also develop.
Dogs are more likely to fully recover from acute pancreatitis if you stick to a low fat diet for them long term. Prevention is better than cure and they should avoid high fat food such as garbage scraps at all times. This is especially during holiday times when people eat more fatty food and dogs try to scavenge.

Written by Scott Lackenby

Scott joined the team at Gordon Vets in 1999, where he was immediately impressed with the high standard of customer service. Scott is very popular amongst clients for his kind hearted approach to pet care and his great sense of humour. His particular areas of interest are endocrinology and dermatology.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Online presence by Pet Pack | Web Design by Online Marketing for Doctors | Sitemap
Book Online
Gordon Vet Hospital
Based on 101 reviews
powered by Google
Marianne Broeng
Marianne Broeng
23:23 28 Jan 20
Gordon Vet has looked after my golden retriever since she was 9 weeks. Everyone has been amazing and caring with lots of experience. I have been able to ask any questions and always been welcome. Even one day when she stepped on a bee in the evening, they stayed open until we got there and helped her get it out. Thanks to all the staff :-)
Lizzie Wei
Lizzie Wei
00:56 18 Jan 20
We just moved to Gordon couple month ago and need to get my cat vaccinated. We found this hospital through google and I need to say they provide excellent service and very professional! The doctor really knows cat. Highly recommended!
Lara Bisley
Lara Bisley
08:15 27 Nov 19
Exceptional veterinary hospital. I have been taking my dog here for many years and although I now live in the Eastern Suburbs, I still drive across town to see the Vets at Gordon. The staff are highly skilled, compassionate, friendly and helpful. My 9 year old dog has had 2 knee operations (1 on each knee!) and the outcome of these surgeries far exceeded my expectations. I have been incredibly impressed with the care provided during all of our visits. I would highly recommend Gordon Vet Hospital.
Jennie Keogh
Jennie Keogh
06:36 21 Oct 19
Fantastic and friendly staff who you can tell really care about your pet. Their follow up service is also very reassuring. I also board my cat with Gordon Vet and I feel very comfortable to know he's in safe and caring hands. I'm so glad I found this clinic.
Luxe Sydney Mum
Luxe Sydney Mum
06:37 02 Sep 19
Compassionate, caring and highly skilled veterinary surgeons who treat their patients and owners with respect. The nursing and administration staff are efficient and remember their patients by name which is a lovely touch. A lovely vet practice which despite our Golden Retriever Finn’s complex medical history, is always welcoming to him and he never displays any signs of anxiety when attending. Dr Helen is lovely and a firm favourite of ours!
Lihong Xing
Lihong Xing
05:00 05 Nov 18
Highly recommend Dr David, Scott, Helen, and Catherine, I've taken my cat to see all the doctors here.
Jeremy Tarbox
Jeremy Tarbox
22:55 10 Sep 18
We found a stray, agitated dog in front of our house last night. We phoned but got no help from the Council ranger who gave two options: tie him up in front yard overnight or "let him loose, he'll find his own way home" :( So we phoned Gordon Vet: they stayed open a few minutes so we could run him up and he could have a bed and dinner. Thank you Gordon Vet Hospital, hope he gets home soon!!! :)
Vishal Kapoor
Vishal Kapoor
01:52 04 Sep 18
Really amazing staff members. Their systems and processes are also very
Gerry Stevens
Gerry Stevens
11:01 14 Jul 18
Good competant vet. Did what I needed. Staff friendly. Cat's well.
Arezu A
Arezu A
03:20 15 Feb 18
Absolutely love the service here. I switched from other Vets to this Vet as the staff here are quite attentive and really care about your furry baby! I have basically seen most of the Dr's here and all of them so far have been fantastic, friendly and fun to speak with! Easy to locate and enough parking available! 5 Stars indeed!
See All Reviews