Pancreatitis can be caused by a number of things, such as certain medications, infections (bacteria can climb up into the pancreas from the intestines), high fat meals (this is how eating chocolate causes this problem as it is high in fat), high amounts of calcium in the blood, trauma and shock (for example it can happen after a dog is hit by a car). Beggin' strips and Pupperoni would certainly do it as they are high fat. Some dogs are more prone to pancreatitis than other dogs with small dogs being more susceptible.
Typically, the symptoms of pancreatitis are one or more of the following:
abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and a very painful belly.
Bloodwork that confirms pancreatitis shows very high levels of amylase and lipase. These are 2 enzymes that the pancreas makes and delivers to the intestines to help digest food. With high fat meals, the pancreas has to work extra-hard to make these, and this can cause it to actually start digesting itself. This is very painful!
Many times, we don't find the exact cause of pancreatitis. An ultrasound is useful to look for a mass in the pancreas (such as a tumor, which is RARE), and to see how severely the pancreas is affected. This can help with giving a prognosis, and estimating how long a recovery will take.
Generally, pancreatitis is treated aggressively with intravenous fluids, intravenous antibiotics, pain killers and resting the intestinal tract. This last means that NO food is given by mouth until symptoms start to resolve.
Then, once the pancreatitis is starting to resolve, we usually start the patient with just water and see if that stays down. If there is no vomiting or abdominal pain, we then start *very* small meals of an easy to digest, low fat food and monitor closely.
For long-term management, patients who are prone to pancreatitis are kept on a low fat diet to minimize chances of a flare-up. Antibiotics are continued for 1-2 weeks, as well as other medications as needed (such as anti-nausea medications).
I will give you some links to more information:
So, with your dog, you have done a great job of looking after him. However, it is *really* important to get fluids into him in SMALL, frequent amounts.
So, water is fine, but also he can have pedialyte, Gatorade, apple juice diluted 50:50 with water, or chicken or beef broth diluted 50:50 with water. Give the fluids in small amounts frequently. For a dog this size that means about 1/4 cup every half an hour.
After 24h, if he has kept the fluids down, you can offer a bland diet.
For patients that I see, I recommend as a bland diet a mixture of 75% cooked white rice, and 25% low fat protein. For the protein you could use extra lean ground beef, boiled with the fat scooped off, or chicken breast boiled with fat scooped off or even scrambled egg cooked without fat in the microwave. Feed small, frequent meals. For a dog this size, I would suggest 2-3 tablespoons every 3 to 4 hours.
Also, for patients that I see, I usually have them on something to block stomach acid production. The drug I usually reach for in dogs is famotidine, which is Pepcid. You can buy it at your local pharmacy. Legally, I cannot prescribe medications for a dog that I have not seen!
However, the dose is listed here:
If your boy refuses the fluids, or drinks but vomits, then I do think you will need to see an emergency vet this weekend.
I understand you may have financial concerns. Nationally here are some groups that might help you afford the vet bills: American Animal Hospital Association http://www.aahahelpingpets.org/ " Through the AAHA Helping Pets Fund, veterinary care is possible for sick or injured pets even if they have been abandoned or if their owner is experiencing financial hardship." Angels 4 Animals www.Angels4Animals.org "Our services range from financial aid to complete treatment to those pets and pet owners in need." Care Credit www.carecredit.com A credit card company for health care, including veterinary care. "With a comprehensive range of plan options, for treatment or procedure fees from $1 to over $25,000, we offer a plan and a low monthly payment to fit comfortably into almost every budget." God's Creatures Ministry http://www.all-creatures.org/gcm/help-cf.html "This fund helps pay for veterinarian bills for those who need help." Help-A-Pet http://www.help-a-pet.org/home.html "Our efforts focus on serving the elderly, the disabled, and the working poor." IMOM http://www.imom.org "We are dedicated to insure that no companion animal has to be euthanized simply because their caretaker is financially challenged." The Pet Fund http://thepetfund.com/ "The Pet Fund is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit association that provides financial assistance to owners of domestic animals who need urgent veterinary care." United Animal Nations http://www.uan.org/lifeline/index.html "The m ission of LifeLine is to help homeless or recently rescued animals suffering from life-threatening conditions that require specific and immediate emergency veterinary care. We strive to serve Good Samaritans and rescue groups who take in sick or injured animals. In certain cases, LifeLine can also assist senior citizens and low-income families pay for immediate emergency veterinary care."
They also keep a list of local and national help resources here http://www.uan.org/index.cfm?navid=163
With these various resources, the one that is most reliable is Care Credit, and I have heard very positive things about them. The other organizations sometimes have funding and sometimes do not, but Care Credit always seems to come through.
Good luck with your little guy!
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The above is given for information only. Although I am a licensed veterinarian, I cannot legally prescribe medicines or diagnose your pet's condition without performing a physical exam. If you have concerns about your pet I would strongly advise contacting your regular veterinarian.