How to comfort a dog with pancreatitis

There are two types of pancreatitis acute and chronic, many times your action plan will depend on which type your pup presents with.

Both types can cause a lot of pain and if not treated can be life-threatening. Let’s look at the major differences between the two

Acute Pancreatitis

Chronic Pancreatitis

  • A dog that has suffered from pancreatitis in the past
  • The condition develops over time
  • Dog can have repeated bouts of pancreatitis or flare-ups
  • Will probably have to be on a life-time low fat diet

If your dog has an acute case of pancreatitis and this is the first episode you will want to get them to the veterinarian as soon as possible. There they can get the necessary treatment. They will receive intravenous fluids, anti-emetics to help them with any vomiting, and round the clock observation.

If your pup has chronic pancreatitis and is having an episode I would still recommend contacting your veterinarian to see if they recommend bringing them in. Many times vets will want you to come in for blood work and possible overnight monitoring with fluids, once you have your pup home make sure you follow these tips

1. Stop Feeding

The first thing you want to think about is comforting your pet’s stomach. This means giving it time to reset and recuperate. Withholding solid foods for a period of 12-24 hours allows the stomach to rest. Many vets will tell you to feed at the 12-hour mark as you don’t want them to remain on an empty stomach for too long. Every dog is different, so make sure you speak with your vet about feeding times.

2. Feed Less Food

Once your pup is able to eat again you want to feed smaller, more frequent meals instead of one to two large ones. This should look like 5-6 small meals throughout the day. This may be something you want to do long-term as well.

3. Feed Low Fat

Ensure that the foods you give are very low in fat once you do start feeding. Aim for 8% fat or less. Many times if your pup has chronic pancreatitis your veterinarian will place your dog on a prescription diet or a low-fat weight-loss diet. While these usually cost substantially more, they are many times what will save your pet’s life.

If you decide to cook for your dog make sure to boil all of the fat out of the food first. You can feed boiled white rice, chicken breast or lean ground beef

4. Give them a chance to rest

Make sure they have somewhere to lay as your pet will probably want to rest and retreat to somewhere quiet.

This also means if you have little ones in the house or other pets keep them separated as much as possible so that they can rest

5. Watch Their Stomachs

Refrain from picking your pup up while they are going through an episode if it means touching their stomachs. Many times dogs that have pancreatitis also have extremely sore stomachs and touching the area can increase the pain

6. Put down a puppy pad

While not often, if my pup has flare-ups of his chronic pancreatitis it almost always comes with accidents, usually diarrhea. Although your pup may be a potty-trained adult, at this time they may have some accidents.

Have a puppy pad somewhere in close proximity for them to go to if need be. Never chastise them for doing so in the house, they simply can’t help it

7. Monitor for worsening symptoms

Keep a close eye on your pup if your veterinarian doesn’t recommend hospitalization. Dogs with chronic pancreatitis often have lethargy, a poor appetite, and diarrhea. By keeping a close eye on your pup you can make sure to get your pup to the vet as soon as possible.

  • Check the gums: to ensure they remain pink, if they are pale or white get your pup to the veterinarian immediately
  • Unresolved clinical signs: if the signs fail to resolve within 24-48 hours such as vomiting and lack of appetite call your vet
  • Blood in stool: While it is fairly common to see blood in the stool, you may want to call your vet if bloody diarrhea begins

8. Have water readily available

While you should refrain from feeding for at least 24-hours make sure your dog has water readily available. You may want to include a capful of clear Pedialyte in the water as well.

I hope these tips are helpful in your battle with your dogs chronic or acute pancreatitis! Let me know if they do in the comments.

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