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Pancreatitis In Dogs


Meg knows all about pancreatitis in dogs!

Meg is normally a very bright active 7-year-old Australian Kelpie who loves everything, especially coming to see us. However, this time was different. When we saw her she was very quiet and not happy at all. She had bouts of diarrhoea, vomiting and wasn’t interested in eating.

On physical exam, Dr. Karen could see Meg was dehydrated and quiet but not much else was found. To find out why Meg was feeling so unwell, she needed to stay with us for intravenous fluids and further tests. After getting Meg settled into her bed we ran some blood tests. Luckily we now have in-house testing so we get the results within 15-20 minutes, which means we can get treatment underway quickly.

Meg’s blood test showed us that she had pancreatitis. So what does this mean?

The pancreas is an organ in the abdomen and is responsible for releasing enzymes that aid in digestion. When the pancreas is working normally, the enzymes become active only when they reach the small intestine. Pancreatitis in dogs, however, causes the enzymes activate when they’re released, inflaming and causing damage to the pancreas and its surrounding tissue and other organs. This can lead to the enzymes actually digesting the pancreas itself, which causes extreme pain.

So what causes pancreatitis in dogs? – There is no definitive answer but one of the main contributing factors high-fat diet.

Trying to rule out how this happened Meg, we asked her owners if there was anything they could think of that she may have gotten into. The only other thing they could think of was they’d applied an organic dynamic lifter fertiliser to part of the garden the previous week.

Suspicious, we then looked into the fertiliser, we knew it could cause an upset stomach but we didn’t know much else about it. We found out that this type of fertiliser is made up of mainly chicken poo with added blood and bones. This makes it be highly attractive to dogs and if enough of it is eaten it can lead to severe gut upsets and pancreatitis.

So we had what was wrong and what probably caused it but now we needed to treat it.

Treatment is relatively straightforward but can be intensive. First Meg would need to stay on fluids and be given a strong pain relief injection to make her more comfortable. Next, we gave her an anti-nausea injection to stop her feeling so sick. Once she started to feel a bit better we slowly introduced her to a special easy digestible low-fat diet.

Meg was starting to be a bit brighter over a few days but she still didn’t want to eat. It’s not uncommon for pets to not eat while they are in the hospital. Getting Meg to eat was crucial for her recovery, because of this, we decided it was best she received homecare monitoring overnight. Meg returned the following morning to continue with fluids and pain relief. It took 5 days before Meg was eating well and acting more like her normal self and was able to be fully discharged home.

When Meg got home, her owners noticed she immediately went back to the place where they’d applied the fertiliser. Luckily it had all been removed so it would cause Meg any more problems.

So lesson learned by all was that be careful what you apply to the garden and always keep pets away from it regardless.


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O’Halloran Hill Vet Centre

123 Main South Road
O’Halloran Hill, SA 5158

Hilton Vet Centre

142 Sir Donald Bradman Drive
Hilton, SA 5033