What are the causes and symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs?

Although the symptoms are sometimes mistaken for something less serious, pancreatitis is a condition that needs to be treated immediately.

Here's everything you need to know about pancreatitis in dogs, from the main causes to signs to look for and diagnosis.

What is pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas.” But like all serious conditions, there is more to it than that.

The pancreas is the organ in charge of releasing enzymes that help with digestion.

These enzymes should only become active in the small intestine but with pancreatitis, they activate too soon, damaging the pancreas and surrounding tissue. 

What are the main symptoms of pancreatitis?

  • Vomiting, several times in a day or over several days
  • Bloating and visible discomfort
  • Hunched back
  • Diarrhoea and dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever and lethargy

If your dog shows one of these symptoms from time to time, simply minotor them, but if they show several of them continuously, they should be seen by the vets immediately. 

What causes pancreatitis in dogs?

Several risk factors can come into play, from a high-fat diet to obesity or endocrine issues. Some dogs can also have a genetic predisposition.

A few breeds have a higher risk of developing the disease, for instance Miniature Schnauzers and small terrier breeds.

How to diagnose pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is a severe condition which needs to be diagnosed and treated by your vets, as it won't go away on its own.

Blood tests, physical examinations, ultrasounds and sometimes fine needle aspiration of the pancreas are the methods used to confirm the diagnostic.

Acute and chronic pancreatitis

Acute Pancreatitis means that the attack starts suddenly with no warning signs. 

Chronic Pancreatitis develops overtime and symptoms don't show immediately. 

Both forms can be mild or very severe and are both very painful.


As always, when in doubt, call your vet and stay away from DIY remedies!