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Understanding Pancreatitis in Beagles

The Beagle is generally a healthy breed, though all dogs are prone to developing certain health problems. With his floppy ears, Beagles are prone to ear infections and they can also be affected by genetic health problems such as hip dysplasia, congenital deafness, and certain forms of heart disease. Another condition to which this breed is prone is pancreatitis – keep reading to learn more.

What is Pancreatitis?

The pancreas is an organ located in your dog’s abdomen behind the stomach and it plays two important roles – it helps to metabolize sugar by producing the hormone insulin and it helps with the digestion of nutrients by producing certain enzymes. Pancreatitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the pancreas and it can be either acute (sudden) or chronic (long-term). There are a number of potential causes for pancreatitis in dogs. In some cases, certain medications can cause pancreatic inflammation or it could be related to certain hormonal diseases like Cushing’s disease or hypothyroidism. Pancreatitis is sometimes genetically inherited or it might be caused by dietary factors.

Acute pancreatitis is inflammation that comes on suddenly and it may range from mild to severe. Symptoms generally include pain in the abdomen, distention of the abdomen, depression, loss of appetite, a hunched posture, vomiting, and diarrhea. Many dogs who develop acute pancreatitis also have a fever. In severe cases of pancreatitis, some dogs develop arrhythmia, sepsis, breathing difficulties and even a dangerous condition called disseminated intravascular coagulation which can lead to hemorrhaging. Chronic pancreatitis produces similar symptoms to acute pancreatitis but they are generally milder in severity and less likely to lead to complications.

Treatment Options for Pancreatitis

Because some of the symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs overlap with symptoms of other conditions, certain tests such as complete blood count, urinalysis, and chemistry panels may be needed to make an accurate diagnosis. Once a diagnosis has been made, there are several treatment options to choose from but they all have similar goals – to rehydrate the dog, to relieve pain, to control vomiting, to improve nutrition, and to prevent complications. Many dogs receive IV fluids as part of their pancreatitis treatment and pain relievers may be administered as well. In cases of severe vomiting, oral medications may be given and you may need to withhold food and water for 24 hours as well.

Unfortunately, pancreatitis is an unpredictable and often serious condition. When the condition is mild, most dogs stand a good chance of making a full recovery and simple dietary changes may be enough to prevent a recurrence or any complications. Chronic pancreatitis can sometimes develop into diabetes or pancreatic insufficiency, a condition in which the dog’s body passes food without digesting it or absorbing the nutrients. This condition can be life-threatening, especially if you don’t treat it right away, so keep an eye on your Beagle for signs of pancreatitis. At the first sign of trouble, take your dog to the vet – it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Photo credit: Alexey Androsov/Shutterstock

Should you have a concern regarding the health of your Beagle(s), you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is presented solely for educational and informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving veterinary care for your Beagle(s).