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What do you know about pancreatitis?


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My small and very beloved terrier had bloodwork two days ago and the vet left me a message saying the test came back indicating pancreatitis.  That's all she said; I didn't get to talk to her, and won't until Monday, so thought if any of you had experience with this perhaps you could tell me something.

I have looked up the symptoms and he is not showing any of them that I can perceive. He has a good appetite, normal stools, no apparent pain if I press gently on his abdomen,  no vomiting, and he is acting normal. He has slowed down a bit in the past year, but nothing that I would not expect in a dog who is between 12 and 13 years old. He's still very enthusiastic about the things he loves.  I had CBC run only because of his age and I think it's good to do that every 6 months with an elder dog.

Of course I have looked it up online, and have gone carefully through what I give him to eat to look for fatty foods.  His kibble is "not less than" 16%, the canned food I use as a topper is "not less than" 10%.  I don't know if those would be considered too high fat for him or not.  I also variously top the dogs' food with small amounts of cooked chicken (skinless, all fat removed, white meat only), my own topper mix which is cooked venison or beef (all fat removed) with cooked vegetables, yogurt, or half a hard boiled egg. I recently started topping sometimes with pumpkin.

For treats he gets a small piece of a chicken jerky treat, maybe 1.5" square. This is the only thing I can see that may have high fat, and I have stopped giving them to him as of yesterday, although he only got two pieces a day most days. At times, not daily, I have given the dogs small (1" square) pieces of cooked meat I am eating. Going to stop that too. Other than that, the treats he gets the most of are pieces of carrot or kale stem or apple, his favorite things. I don't see anything in his diet that would have been giving him a lot of fat, and he is very lean - always has been.

Of course I am worried and will be carefully altering his diet and once I speak to the vet I will follow her suggestions, but if any of you have information to impart it would be appreciated.

Thanks.

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I have no experience with pancreatitis, but want to wish you the best. I'm glad, given the availability issue, that it's not acute.

Speaking of which, I'd be very  disappointed if my vet left me such a terse and essentially uninformative message, especially given that you aren't able to reach the office for several days. IMO it's pretty inconsiderate of her not to have anticipated that the Dx would worry you and not included at least a little bit more information, like some basic advice about whether you need to be concerned about and/or on the lookout for until you can speak to her.

I'm pretty sure, though, that if there were anything of immediate concern for the upcoming few days that she'd at least have told you about it.

 

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Thanks, GL. My vet and I have a very good relationship, having worked together with my animals and many fosters for almost 15 years. She is blunt, but not inconsiderate. She would have talked to me had I been available to answer the phone, and would have called me the next day under normal circumstances but it's a holiday and I cannot expect her to do that. And I do know that if something were emergent she would have said so, or if I needed to to something different right away she would have told me, so it's OK. Unfortunate that I will worry until Monday, but it's not her fault.  I think it's better she told me that much than if she had not called at all.  I am just wanting to make the most of the time before I talk to her by starting to find out what I can about it.

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  • 4 weeks later...

@D'Elle

Hope you see this in time. Not sure it'll lead directly to the post, but he posted today that he's doing something on pancreatitis tomorrow at 1:00pm Pacific time. If it's not still right at the top of his feed, scroll down a bit. It's pretty recent.

I don't think you need a FB account.

https://www.facebook.com/drpeterdobias

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Thanks, GL. 

My vet has pointed out to me that, while we know that his pancreatic values are off in his bloodwork we don't know why. It could be pancreatitis and it also could be a tumor of some kind. I have not done an ultrasound to see if it is a tumor because even if it were, surgery is not a possibility at this point. I am watching to make sure he gets less fat, like not giving him cheese treats, but other than that don't know if there's anything I can do. His appetite is normal and he's not showing any of the typical symptoms of pancreatitis.

He is in the past few days having a hard time getting up and walking- is very stiff - although that improves in mid-day. I am very much hoping that it is caused by the  damp weather we are having, because it changed suddenly along with the barometric pressure. Won't know until it warms up and dries out. Crossing my fingers.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Did he/she get an ultrasound? Billiary sludge will/can present as pancreatitis. It's basically an infection of the gallbladder.  It's quite common in older dogs, I actually had it in a 3 yr old dog.  They will prescribe synthetic bile, and eventual gallbladder surgery/removal. I opted for my own protocol and it was resolved in 3 months.  I'd be happy to share my protocol with you if you like.  

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17 hours ago, Little Bo Boop said:

Did he/she get an ultrasound? Billiary sludge will/can present as pancreatitis. It's basically an infection of the gallbladder.  It's quite common in older dogs, I actually had it in a 3 yr old dog.  They will prescribe synthetic bile, and eventual gallbladder surgery/removal. I opted for my own protocol and it was resolved in 3 months.  I'd be happy to share my protocol with you if you like.  

He didn't get an ultrasound for his pancreas, because the vet said that if it showed he had a tumor, we couldn't do anything about it in any case, so why spend the considerable amount of money it would cost to have one done. Last one I had done on him, his heart, cost me almost $1,000.00. That one was well worth it, because it gave me information that can be used to diagnose and treat the problem, and he is on heart medication now.

Wouldn't an infection of any internal organ show up in a CBC? There were no markers for infection the last time we got one, but we are going to do it every 3 to 4 months now instead of every 6 just to try to keep up to date.

Thanks. 

 

 

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"Wouldn't an infection of any internal organ show up in a CBC" 

No, not necessarily. My dog had the bacterial infection, Bartonella (pretty sure it caused the biliary sludge) and her blood work was pristine.  There are a number of bugs out there that are what we call 'stealth pathogens'.  What that means is these pathogens, be they bacterial, viral, fungal, basically go to an organ, or it can be tissue as well, but they set up shop, and shelter in either mucous or they encyst, and become encapsulated, the pathogen is then hidden from the immune system, also makes it difficult for ABX to get to them.   

I know the expense can get out of hand (trust me, I totally get that) but if I had a 12-13 yr. I would (and have) spring for the ultrasound. I paid about $300 a dog here in Texas, and they looked at everything.  If you're going to be doing blood work every 3 to 4 months, well you do the math...seems it would be cheaper to get the ultrasound.  

 

All that being said, biliary sludge can cause pancreatitis, since your dog seems to be asymptomatic, your vet was calling pancreatitis going by blood work, correct?  Biliary sludge is present in a lot of dogs, especially older dogs, it wasn't until they started ultrasounds on dogs as routine, that they started seeing it.   Most dogs with biliary sludge are asymptomatic, until they aren't. Just like people who have gallbladder attacks, and end up having emergency surgery to remove the gallbladder, same thing happens with dogs. 

I would at least ask your vet about the possibility of b sludge, since she has no other explanation for the elevated enzymes...B sludge should be on her differential IMHO.  I had to go to a specialist to get the b sludge diagnoses, so don't know if  reg. vets look for that...

 

I would urge you to look at a supplement called NAC. It's what I use on my dog/s (my husband and I are both on it as well)  It resolved the  b sludge in my young dog, and as it so happens it's  also used for treatment of pancreatitis. It's also a very powerful liver support, and is used as treatment for Tylenol poisoning.  I swear by this stuff.  

 

Here is just one abstract on NAC and pancreatitis. 

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51131605_N-acetylcysteine_in_acute_pancreatitis

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@D'Elle I just came across these links to articles written by Mary Strauss, who writes articles for the Whole Dog Journal.

I haven't read either of them but I hope there might be something useful for you.

http://dogaware.com/articles/wdjpancreatitis.html
http://dogaware.com/articles/wdjlowfatdiets.html

p.s. Dunno if there's a comment option or not, but she often addresses questions with detailed answers in her WDJ articles. IMO they're worth reading.

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Little Bo Peep, thanks much for explaining that to me. I find it fascinating and it also could be potentially helpful to my dog. I am going to ask my vet about billiary sludge in the gall bladder and see if she knows anything about it,  or if she is interested in reading the info you provided. If the problem is something that could then be treated with medication, allowing a longer life for my dog, it's more than worth it. I was only balking at doing the ultrasound because if it showed tumors I couldn't put him through surgery anyway. I will read the info in that link. Again, thanks.

 

Gentle Lake, thanks for those links. I will read and no doubt that info will be helpful to me in deciding what to do.

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You are very welcome. If I can be of any help, feel free to pm me or email me.  If it turns out it is biliary sludge, they will only prescribe a 'bandaid' in the form of synthetic bile (ursidiol) It's expensive and your dog will have to be on it for life.  If indeed it is b sludge (which I have a pretty strong suspicion it is) I can share with you what I treated with, and it resolved it completely.   Good luck with your puppers <3 

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