Common Health Problems in West Highland White Terriers and Schnauzers

Digestive Diseases: Pancreatitis


If you think your dog may have Pancreatitis, get him to the vet right away.  This is a dangerous disease that can cause death if not caught early.

The pancreas has two primary functions:

  1. To secrete powerful digestive enzymes into the small intestine to aid the digestion of carbohydrates, proteins and fat.  
  2. To release the hormones insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream. These hormones are involved in blood glucose metabolism, regulating how the body stores and uses food for energy.

Pancreatitis is a disease in which the pancreas becomes inflamed. Pancreatic damage occurs when the digestive enzymes are activated before they are secreted into the duodenum and begin attacking the pancreas.

There are two forms of Pancreatitis: acute and chronic.

 Acute Pancreatitis

    Acute Pancreatitis is a sudden inflammation that occurs over a short period of time.   The severity of acute Pancreatitis may range from mild abdominal discomfort to a severe, life-threatening illness.

In very severe cases, acute Pancreatitis can result in bleeding into the gland, serious tissue damage, infection, and cyst formation. Severe Pancreatitis can also cause damage if enzymes and toxins are released into the bloodstream, which can harm other vital organs such as the heart, lungs, and kidneys.

  1. Upper abdominal pain may be aggravated by eating, especially foods high in fat.  
  2. Swollen and tender abdomen
  3. Nausea and vomiting
  4. Fever
  5. Increased heart rate.

If Pancreatitis is not treated properly, the Pancreas will scar and even calcification might occur.

When the pancreas is inflamed, the enzymes inside it attack and damage the tissues that produce them.

Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic. Either form is serious and can lead to complications. In severe cases, bleeding, infection, and permanent tissue damage may occur.

Many dog owners fail to recognize the fatal complications from  Pancreatitis resulting in the following problems for their pet.

  • Diabetes
  • Liver failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Acute renal failure
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Pleural effusion is an accumulation of fluid between the layers of
    tissue that line the lungs and chest cavity.

The pancreas is a organ that is tucked underneath the stomach and is protected by the rib cage.

During a veterinary examination it is very hard to feel,  as is  the liver, because they are not in an area where the vet can  palpitate.


It has a couple of functions. One is to produce insulin  and other hormone. Insulin is very important as it processes sugar and  amino  acids. The other is to produce the enzymes needed to digest food.

What is Pancreatitis?

The Pancreas becomes inflamed and leaks digestive  enzymes.  This causes damage to the Pancreas and this is always a very  serious  illness. Never take it lightly.

If left untreated could cause diabetes, liver failure, and at its worse, death.

If you see any of these signs in your dog then take your dog to the vet because these things are not normal.

  • Vomiting Bile in the morning (yellow liquid)
  • Vomiting feedings a few hours after feeding.
  • Upset Stomach
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Dehydration
  • loss of appetite
  • vomiting
  • weakness
  • abdominal pain
  • Here are some of the things that can cause  Pancreatitis:
  • high fat content in blood)
  • Obesity
  • Cushing's, Diabetes
  • Contaminated food or water
  • Certain drugs and toxins including some diuretics, antibiotics, and  insecticides
  • Bacterial or viral infection

What is the future of a dog with Pancreatitis?

You can do things to prevent another bout of Pancreatitis.

First put your dog on a low fat diet. High fat causes many cases of Pancreatitis every year.

So that means:

  • No cookies or dog cookies with sugar
  • No fruit it is full of sugar)
  • No Pasta - grain, grain turns into sugar in a fat dog)
  • No butter, fatty sauces (a little fish oil is OK)

 You might be  wondering why I'm telling you no sugar or foods that have  no fat in  them. All the foods above if not processed by the body will  turn into  sugar and excess sugar is turned into fat. And fat is the  enemy.

Second, Get a dog food with lots of fiber. If you can't get  enough fiber, add wheat bran. My  dog is 18 pounds and he gets 1/3 cup  wheat bran every day.  BTW, he  hates it.  It tastes like wood chips.   You will have to be creative in  how to serve the dread wheat bran.  I  found that buying organic cooked  pumpkin in a can (not for making pies)  and mixing it with the pumpkin  works pretty good.

BTW, pumpkin is full of fiber. So there is another benefit.

Lastly this is a  problem I've had with my Terriers and  every one of them has had  Pancreatitis.  They may be a breed that is  predisposed to this  condition.

I suggest you join a support group to keep learning about this mystifying illness.









Copyright 2000 - 2017  All rights reserved www.thelittlefoxes.net
Please Read

Any information contained on this site relating to various medical, health, and fitness conditions of Westies and their treatment is for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for the advice provided by your own veterinarian. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing dog allergies - you should always consult your own veterinarian.