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Pancreatitis in Dogs: A Guide For Owners

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Pancreatitis in Dogs: A Guide For Owners

Posted by Michael Jones on
Updated at: February 26, 2021

Pancreatitis in Dogs | Innovet Pet

Having a dog that isn't feeling well is never fun. It's definitely upsetting for the dog that is feeling poorly. A pet not feeling well is also stressful for pet parents. A worrisome health problem for some pet parents is pancreatitis in dogs. Pancreatitis in dogs is a disease that affects the pancreas. Canines affected with this disease are usually older. Two classes of pancreatitis in dogs are defined as chronic and acute. For pet parents that want to understand more, we have created this guide to help you.


1. What Exactly is Pancreatitis in Dogs?
2. Are Certain Dogs Prone To Pancreatitis?
3. What Are Causes Of Pancreatitis In Dogs?
4. What Are Symptoms of Pancreatitis in Dogs?
5. How Do Dogs With Pancreatitis Get Diagnosed?
6. What Does Treatment For Pancreatitis Entail?
7. What is The Medication Famotidine for Dogs With Pancreatitis?
8. How Much Does Dog Pancreatitis Treatment Cost?
9. Natural Options For Treating Dog Pancreatitis
10. What Is The Prognosis for Canine Pancreatitis
11. Pancreatitis In Dogs: Final Thoughts

The pancreas of a dog is located in their upper abdominal wall. The pancreas is an organ that looks like a V and is near the duodenum. It contains two ducts and works with the bile duct of the liver. It is an essential part of a dog's body to perform at its optimum capacity.

What Function Does Pancreas Serve?

The pancreas has both an endocrine function and an exocrine function. The exocrine function of the pancreas is for digestion and allows digestive enzymes into the small intestine. Therefore, pancreas assists in breaking down carbs, fats, and other materials that the body processes for energy and function.

Endocrine function in the pancreas is for secreting hormones that are important to biological function. It can affect moods and overall health of canines. For example, it is responsible for handling glucose in the body.

What Exactly is Pancreatitis in Dogs?

Pancreatitis in dogs is when their pancreas is not working the way they should. It can be either an acute case or a chronic case. This is something the veterinarian should be able to tell you after testing and monitoring your pet. Most dogs with pancreatitis will show symptoms like irritability, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Severe pancreatitis in dogs may present with an inflammatory response. They may get very sick and have a risk of going into septic shock. This is an emergency situation that requires immediate veterinary care. Dogs with pancreatitis that is severe will need more care and treatment. 

Are Certain Dogs Prone To Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis in dogs can occur to any dog of any age. However, there are some breeds that are more prone to this condition. For example, breeds like spaniels, boxers, collies, mini schnauzers, and schnauzers are more prone to developing pancreatitis. Also, dogs that are older are more likely to acquire canine pancreatitis than younger dogs and pups.

What Are Causes Of Pancreatitis In Dogs?

A specific cause cannot usually be pinpointed for pancreatitis in dogs. However, there are risk factors that make a canine more likely to get it. A significant risk factor for canine pancreatitis is obesity. This is due to the condition of hyperlipidemia that is common in obese dogs. Dogs that are of the breeds more likely to get pancreatitis should be monitored closely, especially if they are obese.

Dogs that have diabetes are at higher risk for developing canine pancreatitis. Other diseases are risk factors for pancreatitis in dogs as well. Veterinarians will keep a close eye on pets with conditions like these and will likely monitor them for any signs that they may develop pancreatitis.

Dogs that are obese will likely need to make diet and lifestyle changes. Of course, that means that the pet parent will be very crucial in that process. This may mean giving them higher quality food and taking them out for exercise more often. Even playing with them more often can help in getting their weight under control. High-quality food that is good for their body will go a long way in regulating their weight issues. Losing body fat can make a big difference in the health of your dog. It can help them with a variety of health problems that they have been diagnosed with. Like a person, losing weight can help in lowering the risk of obesity-related diseases and even reversing them, in some cases. For example, weight loss in obese dogs can reverse the symptoms of diabetes. This is excellent for their health and can help in lowering their blood sugars to normal levels. This can also help dogs with pancreatitis. If your veterinarian recommends dietary changes for your obese pet, it is going to be imperative to follow them. This is so your pet can be as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

What Are Symptoms of Pancreatitis in Dogs?

Symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs can vary.

A dog may have one, some, or all of the symptoms that are listed below:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • No interest in food
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive licking of their lips
  • Jaundice

Also, some dogs may have issues with their gut. Specifically, their stomachs may start making odd noises that are not normal. If your pet has some of these symptoms, it would be prudent to get them checked out at your trusted vet. Dogs sometimes develop anorexia or anorectic behaviors if they have pancreatitis. They will suddenly lose most or all interest in food, or they may suddenly begin regurgitating their food.

How Do Dogs With Pancreatitis Get Diagnosed?

Ultimately, it will be a veterinarian that will diagnose a dog with pancreatitis. Pancreatitis in dogs is rather complex and is why it is only definitely diagnosed through a veterinarian. Most veterinarians will order blood tests as the first step. They will look for indications in the blood test that show them that your dog may have pancreatitis.

It is possible that your trusted vet will also order ultrasound or radiography tests to have a look at your dog's internal organs. They will want to take a close look at the upper abdominal area, where the pancreas is located. Looking for other issues will also likely be on their minds to ensure that there are no underlying health conditions.

Another test that they may do to determine if your dog has pancreatitis is to perform a biopsy. A biopsy is when there is a small portion of tissue removed from the body. The tissue is then sent out for analysis by proper professionals. They will most likely analyze the tissue with a microscope and other equipment and will look for any abnormalities. This can give a more definitive diagnosis of what is wrong with your furry pal.

It is vital to try and remain calm throughout the process. Pets can sense when their pet parents are anxious or worried. Staying calm can help your pet remain calm, too! They may also relate stress and anxiety to a vet office visit. This makes it even more imperative to try and stay calm and not worry so much.

What Does Treatment For Pancreatitis Entail?

Canine pancreatitis can be treated. The options for treatment of pancreatitis in dogs will be based on the health of your pet, the severity of their particular form of the disease, and what the veterinarian thinks will be best for your dog.

Many veterinarians will choose to treat canine pancreatitis with IV fluids. These are particular IV fluids that will help to restore health in your pet's body in a way that is necessary for recovery. In some cases, the vet may prescribe anti-emetic medications. This is to prevent vomiting and nausea.

Dogs with pancreatitis may also need a diet change. It is imperative to discuss any diet changes with your vet. They will likely recommend certain kinds of foods to you. If not, don't be afraid to ask the vet what kind of dog food would be best for your pet. They can guide you toward certain brands or types of dog foods that will be good for your furry friend. It is also possible that you can give your dog homemade organic treats and foods. These are questions you will need to ask your trusted vet and to research fully.

Your veterinarian may also prescribe a medication for pancreatitis in dogs. A prescription will be given if the vet feels that it will benefit your pet and their health. Severe or moderate pancreatitis in dogs is likely to be treated with some medications. Don't be shy about asking your vet questions about any prescriptions that you are given. This is to ensure that you know what your pet will be ingesting into their body and what potential side effects there. Knowledge is power, and we at Innovet Pet encourage pet parents to be as informed as possible. Most vets will answer your questions freely and give you the answers that you need and want.

What is The Medication Famotidine for Dogs With Pancreatitis?

The medication Famotidine helps with excessive acid production in the stomach. Dogs that have pancreatitis can benefit from this. It is also a treatment for pets that have certain gastrointestinal diseases. Dogs with pancreatitis can take Famotidine. The Famotidine dog dosage will depend on their size and weight. The recommended dosage is between .25 and .5 mg of the medication for pound of body weight. It would be best to ask the veterinarian what dosage of Famotidine for dogs they would recommend for your pet. It can be purchased at an over-the-counter store without a prescription.

What Is The Medication Metronidazole for Dogs?

Metronidazole is a medication that is an antibiotic. Antibiotics for dogs are typically NOT prescribed for pancreatitis. Metronidazole for dogs is given for certain infections and should only be provided under the advisement of a veterinarian.

How Much Does Dog Pancreatitis Treatment Cost?

Treating dog pancreatitis isn't cheap. Most people will spend anywhere from $800 to $6,000. This is based on a variety of factors. It will depend on the type of pancreatitis, the area that you live in, and more. The average cost of treating pancreatitis in dogs is around two thousand dollars.

Understandably, some pet parents are worried about the costs. The costs to take care of a dog with pancreatitis can seem insurmountable. The good news is that there are pet charities out there that can help you with the treatment of your dog. Pet parents that are struggling to afford care for their dog can often find local pet charities that will help you pay for the care that they need.

There are also national animal and pet non-profits and charities that are there to assist pet parents with unexpected veterinary bills. You can find national organizations online and apply to them directly for assistance. It is likely best to start with a local animal non-profit for help. If you can't find any assistance from a local charity, then it would be best to look regionally and nationally. They are there to help pet parents that are dealing with expensive health care costs, and it is entirely possible that they may be able to financially assist in getting your pet the care that he or she needs.

Natural Options For Treating Dog Pancreatitis

Pet parents are becoming more and more aware of what they put in their pet's bodies. After all, many pet parents try to be conscious of what they put in their own bodies. That makes people more aware of what pets are consuming, too. Giving your dog a lot of chemicals and medications can be very hard to stomach, literally. Most medications and chemicals come with a laundry list of very unpleasant side effects. In fact, some side effects are even worse than what is supposed to be treated. In any case, it is vital to listen to the advice of your trusted vet. However, also keep an eye on your pet very carefully if you are giving them new medication. Some medications may not agree with your pet, and they could have some of the adverse side effects that pet parents are worried about.

Some great natural options for pet parents are changing their diet and giving them supplements that are meant for immune health. A good diet for pets with pancreatitis would typically be low in fat and contain a moderate amount of carbohydrates. It is undoubtedly advised to ask your trusted vet what diet they think would benefit your pet the most for their particular health overall.

What Other Natural Options Can Treat Pancreatitis in Dogs?


CBD Oil for Dogs | Innovet Pet


Another amazing natural option for pancreatitis in dogs is CBD Oil For Dogs. CBD has recently become more popular and recognized as an all-natural alternative to treating a variety of ailments. There are studies that show the efficacy and safety of CBD. It can help animals as much as it helps people that have health issues. It can assist with inflammation, chronic pain, anxiety, nausea, epilepsy, and cancer. Other health issues have also been helped after implementing CBD.

It is THC free, and that is important to mention as some pet parents are concerned about their pets being "high." There is no high from all-natural CBD. Pancreatitis in dogs can be treated with this organic product and give them some much-needed relief from some of the symptoms and inflammation issues that come with this disease.

Will They Remove My Dog's Pancreas

No, they will almost certainly not remove your dog's pancreas. They cannot regulate their body's glucose without their pancreas. Their quality of life would be near nothing, and it would be difficult for them to survive long-term. Some dogs do have partial pancreas removed. This is done by a trained veterinarian and only when they feel it would be the best way for your dog to survive. In the vast majority of cases, your dog will be given treatment options to help control their pancreatitis.

Total removal of the pancreas will not happen. Partial removal of the pancreas is sometimes done if the case is severe and chronic enough that the vet feels it would be their best chance at health. The good news is that most dogs are able to have their pancreatitis treated and no surgeries will be done. With the right treatment, your dog may even begin to improve and see less and less signs of dog pancreatitis. This would be the ideal outcome and is something to strive for. Working with your trusted vet and following guidelines and instructions will make a huge difference in how well your furry friend does.

What Is The Prognosis for Canine Pancreatitis

Canine pancreatitis can range from acute to chronic. Chronic pancreatitis means that it will be an ongoing condition that must be treated on a long-term basis. Acute pancreatitis is often a short-term disease that will not become chronic. The prognosis will depend on your pet's overall health, their age, and the type of pancreatitis they are diagnosed with. This is a discussion you will have your vet. The best thing that you can do is stay optimistic and be there for your pet through their journey.

Pancreatitis In Dogs: Final Thoughts

A diagnosis of pancreatitis in dogs can be difficult to hear when you are a pet parent. It is a lot of work to take care of a pet that is healthy, but it is much more work to take care of one that is sick. Pet parents of dogs with pancreatitis should try and be optimistic. Many pets with this disease can get better and see improvements. Even those with chronic cases can manage it well enough to live a full and happy life, in many cases. Making sure to work with the vet will be essential in maintaining the disease as well as just being there for your pet.


Approved by:

Dr. Ivana Vukasinovic

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, University of Belgrade

Ivana Vukasinovic grew up in Serbia and attended the University of Belgrade where she received a degree in Veterinary medicine in 2012 and later completed surgical residency working mostly with livestock. Her first year of practice was split between busy small animal practice and emergency clinic, and after two more years of treating many different species of animals, she opened her own veterinary pharmacy where an interest in canine and feline nutrition emerged with an accent on fighting animal obesity. In her free time, she acts as a foster parent for stray animals before their adoption, likes to read SF books and making salted caramel cookies.


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The Innovet Team

Please do not ask for emergency or specific medical questions about your pets in the comments. Innovet Pet Products is unable to provide you with specific medical advice or counseling. A detailed physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinarian are required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet requires emergency attention or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic health conditions, please contact or visit your local/preferred veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.

Please share your experiences and stories, your opinions and feedback about this blog, or what you've learned that you'd like to share with others.


Elizabeth Fernandez - April 27, 2019

Hi I have a 2 1/2 yr old yorkie with pancreatitis , with a count of 6,000 , she was hospitalized for 1 day,and given IV went back to see the vet 2 WKS later and it did came Down to 3,500 and then went back for another appt and it was up again to 5,000 don’t know why and the vet doesn’t understand, she’s on a low fat diet, she has no symptoms at all right now . she did before Vomiting and diarrhea not any more eating well going to bathroom well , so I was thinking about the CBD OIL for her , would that help her, and how can I get it ?

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