04 September 2014

Canine Pancreatitis

Every year I schedule my dogs for blood work to clear them for surgery. This year, the results that came back on my older Yorkie, Bebe were not favorable. I have two Yorkshire terriers, both female, both spayed, and both seniors. One is eight years old and the other is eleven. The older one, Bebe, was the one who received not so good results. In her blood work she had extremely high levels of amylase and lipase. This is a sign of pancreatitis and diabetes. I hope this blog post will help you if you are having the same issue with your dog. Pancreatitis can be fatal so please, do take it seriously.

After my initial shock that something was wrong with my precious pup, I immediately started back tracking to figure out just where the problem started. My vet told me that my dog was eating a very fatty diet and it had to be changed immediately. As he told me that no more treats would be good, Bebe's ears immediately dropped as she heard the words "no" and "treats" used in the same sentence.
I was really alarmed because I was giving my dog premium and organic food, however when I went home to check the labels it went to show that just because it's organic doesn't mean it's good for you in theory. My comparison to this was if a human ate organic cheese and grass fed beef all day long, well you see there's still fat in that!
The next move was purchasing the food recommended by the vet which was the Royal Canin digestive low fat food. It was quite pricey and I knew that after the bag was up I would find a healthier and price friendlier alternative. The change in diet caused diarrhea everywhere for a few days and even some vomiting. I knew it wasn't Bebe's pancreas because my dog Jolie was also experiencing the same symptoms. 

I visited my local pet store, PetValu in Clifton, NJ where a wonderful sales associate knew everything there was to know about the items in the store. He immediately recommended me two types of food both high in protein and low in fat. He suggested to give Alaskan Salmon Fish oil each day and to administer treats with vitamins already in them. I was basically sold so I gave it a go. This post is 6 months after the fact of all this happening because I wanted to include a real experience. I've since repurchased the food 5 times, and Bebe's blood levels are normal again. The food that I feed both my dogs are:


You can see in these photos below that the food is high in protein and low in fat. I give them 1/2 a cup in the morning and another 1/2 a cup in the evening sprinkled with some salmon oil. They absolutely love it. Their hair, skin, nails, and eyes show a dramatic improvement too. Their breath, well that's a little fishy!
http://petvalu.com/dog/food/product/11833/fat-dogs-with-chicken-meal-salmon-meal-garbanzo-beans-peas-oatmeal-natural-balance
The treats that I give my dogs daily have vitamins in them and can only be found at PetValu. They are from a company called "Head to Tail" 
I give them these two varieties, please click on the photo below if you want additional information:
http://petvalu.com/dog/health-and-wellness/product/44696/hip-joint-for-small-dogs-head-to-tailhttp://petvalu.com/dog/health-and-wellness/product/44701/vitamin-for-small-dogs-head-to-tail

In addition to drastically changing their diet, I immediately started being more active with my dogs. Taking them out more and having outings with them on the weekends,  Bebe's lethargic state instantly improved but I was still worried about her. I began researching pancreatitis left and right. I wanted to know everything there was to know about the disease and how dangerous it was,  turns out it's very dangerous and often fatal.

In my research I found that the disease is very common in Min Pins, Schnauzers, Dachshunds, Cocker Spaniels, and terrier breeds, specifically Yorkie, Skye and Silky terriers who are elderly, female, spayed and slightly plump. Just my fear, Bebe fit the description perfectly.

To begin let's talk about what the pancreas is and what it does. It's an organ that is located in the abdomen and it's part of the endocrine system. It is responsible for producing important hormones such as insulin and glucagon. It is necessary for the digestion of food. If the pancreas is irritated or inflamed this is called pancreatitis.

There are two types of pancreatitis, acute and chronic. The acute kind means that the inflammation in the pancreas occurred suddenly whereas the chronic type is a slow and gradual inflammation. Unfortunately, chronic pancreatitis can be present without clinical signs of the disease.

Currently, the exact cause of pancreatitis is unknown but there are certain things at are believed to be the causes.

Causes
  • A high fat and low protein diet
  • Trauma (sudden fall or accident)
  • Diseases such as diabetes or Cushing's syndrome
  • Tumors
  • Some drugs and toxins such as: diuretics, antibiotics and insecticides
Risks
  • Above mentioned breeds are at higher risk
  • Plump and obese dogs
  • Cushing's syndrome (insert link here)
  • Diabetes mellitus (link here)

Signs of acute pancreatitis
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of interest in activities dog used to enjoy
  • Vomiting
  • Pain in the abdomen (cries during belly rubs)
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Jaundice

So how do you find out if your fur kid is at risk? Well, this is why routine vet visits are key. Sure your pup may look healthy but delaying the trip can cost you thousands of dollars and the life of your canine companion. If it weren't routine for my dogs to both have their teeth cleaned the truth is I wouldn't have been visiting the vet anytime soon. I took Bebe's lethargic behavior and assumed that it was just her getting old, I assumed that she didn't want to play when I came home because she was tired from playing during the day with my other dog, Jolie. Don't make excuses! Don't assume! Once the blood results came back Bebe had high levels of lipase and amylase and I was stunned, scared, and worried.

Now what exactly are lipase and amylase, well let's dive right into that. They are both digestive enzymes that are produced in the pancreas. Although the tests are not definitive they can be measured in the blood. Lipase levels that show to be 2-3 times what it should be are not good because they show physical signs of pancreatitis. Amylase is non-specific in dogs and is not commonly used to diagnose this disease. Serum trypsin-like immunoreactivity (TLI) is also of limited value. Serum pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity (PLI) will usually be raised and cPLI & fPLI look promising as sensitive and specific markers for pancreatic inflammation.

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Information found on the following sources:
  1. Canine Diabetes
  2. WikiVet