This is a disease process that is seen on a regular basis at any veterinary clinic with both cats and dogs. Whenever there is an "itis" behind the name of an organ,
it means inflammation of that specific organ. In the case of pancreatitis this process can either be "acute" or "chronic". What is the difference?
Acute – this is typically inflammation of the pancreas, causing pancreatic enzymes to be secreted and natural defenses cannot prevent autodigestion. Unfortunately for your cat or dog, this means local damage to tissue from the pancreatic enzymes with secondary systemic effects from inflammatory mediators.
What does this mean for you? It means that your pet's abdomen hurts and typically they show signs of pain, anorexia, diarrhea, vomiting and lethargy. In more serious cases they can become severely dehydrated, have bleeding disorders go into respiratory distress and if prolonged can have significant cardiac arrhythmias.
Chronic – this is also inflammation of the pancreas but to a lesser degree and thus not typically as painful and immediately dangerous. However, long term this can set up for a cascade of health ailments that can ultimately cause significant pain, chronic weight loss, diabetes and has also been correlated with IBD, renal disease, hepatic disease.
Pancreatitis Can Be Caused by Underlying Diseases
Both acute and chronic pancreatitis can be caused by underlying diseases such as diabetes, Cushing's, cancer, liver and or kidney disease. But typically what we see in dogs is dietary indiscretion leading to pancreatic spasm and secretion of pancreatic enzymes to the point that it overwhelms the body and induces pain and all the above mentioned clinical signs. Unfortunately, however, there are some cases where it isn't quite clear what elicited the pancreatitis but none the less it is important to seek out immediate medical attention.
Long story short, if your pet starts having vomiting episodes, becomes lethargic and or anorexic after having eaten foods that aren't typically in their normal diet or even if those clinical signs occur and you don't know why, it is important to seek out medical attention.
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