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Companion Animal Practice
Pancreatitis in the dog:. dealing with a spectrum of disease
  1. Penny Watson

    Penny Watson graduated from Cambridge in 1989. After four years in mixed practice, she returned to Cambridge to take up a Waltham residency and, subsequently, a Waltham lectureship in small animal medicine and clinical nutrition. She holds the RCVS certificate in veterinary radiology and RCVS diploma in small animal medicine, and is a diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. She is currently enrolling for a clinical doctorate to study the clinical importance, diagnosis and consequences of chronic pancreatitis in dogs.


PANCREATITIS - whether it be acute or chronic - is a relatively common, but often misdiagnosed, problem in dogs. It is associated with a systemic inflammatory response which, in severe cases, can result in the development of multiorgan failure, diffuse intravascular coagulation and death. Classical acute pancreatitis is often straightforward to diagnose, but this only represents one end of a wide spectrum of disease. Milder and/or more chronic forms of the condition are not so easily recognised, but can cause significant pain and reduce the quality of life of an animal. There is no single diagnostic test with 100 per cent sensitivity and specificity for the disease, apart from biopsy which is relatively invasive and, hence, not often indicated. Treatment recommendations depend on the severity of the disease and range from conservative management at home to referral for intensive care. The causes of pancreatitis in dogs are usually unknown. Therefore, therapy tends to be symptomatic and non-specific. The potential long-term sequelae of chronic pancreatitis in dogs are largely uninvestigated, but can include the development of diabetes mellitus and/or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. This article discusses the potential causes, diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic pancreatitis in dogs.

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