While it has been stated that at least 27% of dogs that suffer from bouts of pancreatitis die, the majority of pets go on to live happy, normal and healthy lives. The prognosis depends on the extent of the disease and response to treatment. It can be quite troubling to find out your dog has pancreatitis as the long-term outcomes can be difficult to predict.
Most mild forms of pancreatitis have a great prognosis and while long-term effects are rare, you should still be educated and aware.
Let’s take a look at some of the possible routes that a dog suffering from pancreatitis can go down.
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)
Pancreatitis is second only to idiopathic pancreatic acing atrophy (PAA) as a cause of EPI.
What is EPI you may ask? Simply put, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is when a significant number of cells that produce digestive enzymes are destroyed. This, in turn, means that your pup’s food cannot be properly digested.
EPI can negatively affect the gastrointestinal system as it can cause problems with weight (they are usually thin), diarrhea and nutrition in general. The disease can occur in both dogs and cats, but seems to be hereditary in German Shepherds. Dogs that suffer from EPI will need supplemental enzymes added to their diets.
The pancreas is responsible for two major functions as stated previously the secretion of digestive enzymes and insulin which regulates blood glucose. If enough of these cells are destroyed in a case of pancreatitis diabetes can ensue. This is fairly rare and dogs that acquire diabetes will most likely require supplemental insulin.
Renal failure & liver damage
Digestive enzymes are extremely toxic to other organs and in the case of severe pancreatitis, the enzymes can overflow onto other organs and cause significant damage. While uncommon this could result in renal and liver damage.
If the digestive enzymes reach other organs abdominal adhesions can also occur. These are bands of tissue that form between organs and other tissues that causes them to not be able to move and shift as needed for proper function. Usually, the surface of the organs and mesentery are fairly slippery and have no problem moving, but when adhesions occur it is another story.
Most adhesions cause no symptoms or major problems but in some cases, chronic pain or intestinal obstruction can occur.
Buildup of fluid and tissue debris (pseudocysts)
As a sequela to pancreatitis, pancreatic masses have been reported in both dogs and cats.
These masses include pancreatic pseudocysts in both species and pancreatic abscesses and necrotic mass lesions in dogs. Pancreatic pseudocysts have been reported in dogs and cats, whereas necrotic mass lesions of the pancreas and pancreatic abscesses have been reported only in dogs.
The clinical signs associated with pancreatic pseudocysts, necrosis, and abscesses are very similar to those of pancreatitis.
If you’d like to learn more about pseudocysts after pancreatitis here is the reference to the information above.
Acute flare-ups that keep coming back
Chronic Pancreatitis occurs in some dogs after suffering from an acute case. Chronic Pancreatitis is when a dog will have to be consistently monitored for flare-ups and in. most cases will have to eat a low diet for life.