The ‘P’ Word – Pancreatitis in Dogs

Pancreatitis in Dogs

My week was about to get rough with sleepless nights and worry.  My dog was really sick and I didn’t know why.

Stephanie with Bam, Sick DogMy dog Bam was washed out of what was believed to be a dog fighting operation.  He came into a rescue with the name “BAMF” (Badass Mother f*(#E).  The fighters knew it and I know it, he is not a fighter, but instead a massive lovebug.  He started as a foster and turned into my permanent shadow. I am nowhere in the house without him behind me, beside me or on me.  His favorite things are cuddling, chewing up stuffed toys and eating until last week when he lost interest in everything. He not only lost interest in everything, he vomited three times.  He doesn’t vomit. If my bulldog vomited it would be no big thing. He is forever drinking too much and throwing it up. That is just daily life with him, but Bam?  This is not normal whatsoever.  My red flags flew into the air and warning horns went off in my brain.  HE HAS CANCER!!!!!!!!!!!  Boxers are notorious for cancer so of course that is the first thought whenever he is not feeling good. However, this post is not “The ‘C’ Word”, it is The “P” Word so no, I will tell you right now, it wasn’t cancer.

After the vomiting, I monitored him for the afternoon and by the evening mealtime, I served up the dishes.  Normally, Bam would be at the food containers muzzle bumping them as if to say ‘Hurry up woman!”.  This time, he did not get up off the couch.  FLAG! FLAG! FLAG!  What the heck?  I thought he may just be having tummy troubles so I made rice.  I never cook. The kitchen is for microwaves only, but for my dog, my baby,  I will attempt it.  He turned down the rice.  He was drooling and totally disinterested. He was not drinking water either.  This was really bad.  Next plan was to squirt water down his throat using a turkey baster.  He hated it, but he HAD to have some water. I laid on the couch that night to monitor him and slept. . .NOT AT ALL.   My shadow didn’t even want to lay with me. This happens 0% of the time.  Ugh! He was really not feeling well.  By morning, I called the vet and away we went.  I had to drop him off so they could squeeze him in between appointments.  Leaving him ripped my heart out.  If only I could explain to him he needed this.

After many tests and hours later, I got the phone call that he most likely had Pancreatitis.  Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas when digestive enzymes that live in the pancreas, which are normally inactive, become active and the pancreas starts digesting ITSELF!!! Yuck!

Ok, so now that we know he has Pancreatitis, the best course of action was lots of pain meds because Pancreatitis is very, very painful.  He also received anti-vomiting meds and IV fluids.  I could pick him up at 5.  When I picked him up he still looked miserable.  Absolutely miserable.  It was recommended he come back the next day for more IV fluids.  That evening I had to shove his meds into his mouth because he was not about to eat the pill hidden in cheese.  Cheese is his crack and he turned it down. He felt awful.  Another sleepless night and off we went back to the vet in the morning.  He stayed not only that next day, but the day after and the day after that.  Finally, he ate a small bit in the early afternoon at the vet office.  Hallelujah!  Oh and during this time he also developed an inflamed colon so he had to go on antibiotics for that too.  Of course he would get that too!  After a week of care and $1300 later, he was getting is appetite back and now we are back to muzzle bumping the food containers.  Thank goodness and now I will be taking odd jobs to pay for this extravaganza.  Just kidding, but dang $1300!  How on earth did this happen?  He never gets table scraps and he didn’t even get treats days leading up to the incident.  The only thing I could think of is he had one serving of a new food I was trying to help with his itchy skin. That surly couldn’t have done it could it? That is all I could think of. No other changes happened. Oh wait!!!  The week prior someone got into the puppy’s food and ate about three cups worth.  Well, I guess I now know who it was now.  Holy cow!  Something like that can send your dog into a painful bout of tummy troubles.  It is very serious and you must seek medical attention when this happens.

I harp on my students about mealtimes.  This is one perfect example of why I do!  Had Bam not wanted his dinner at mealtime, I would have not known how serious things were.  By not coming to the food container, I knew immediately something was very, very wrong.  It was a clear departure from his normal behavior.  If he was free feeding, I may not have noticed that because he eats whenever he wants.  Did he just eat and that is why he is not coming to the container for a refill?  I would have never known.  By having the prescribed mealtime, I could tell with great certainty something was very wrong.  I could tell the vet exactly when he last ate and when things started to go south.  Please consider meal times instead of free feeding, if you don’t already.

Pancreatitis can be brought on by an increase in fatty foods.  I strongly recommend limiting and even omitting giving your dog table scraps.  This is important this time of year when BBQs happen and food is left on tables. Pancreatitis is looming at every BBQ.  Even though this was not my case, I can assure you the puppy food is placed in a new location completely unreachable.  This was just a case of a dog being a dog, so it is my responsibility to change MY behavior so I don’t put him through that again.

If you observe your dog refusing food, not drinking, vomiting, lethargic, restless and/or having diarrhea you may be dealing with pancreatitis.  Seek medical attention asap!  If caught soon enough, you can get your pup on the mend quickly. If left untreated, it is extremely painful and harmful.  I am so happy to say Bam is feeling great now. Back to his old self.  Hopefully, that will be a one-time event for this precious boy.  Now, back to our regularly scheduled program and a nap!


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