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acute pancreatitis

My dog had acute pancreatitis over the weekend and I took him to an emergency vet on Sunday and to his vet on Mon. They both kept him overnight, IV, blood work, meds, and his vet did a rectal x-ray and abdominal x-ray with barium to look for obstruction.  He found dirt/sand.  My dog ate cat poop covered in dirt.  He is at home now doing fine and I have him on a bland diet of canned white chicken and brown rice only.  However, his lower abd/belly is a little distended and hard.  Could the barium cause this?  He is eating fine, healthy appetite and bowel movements are constitent, soft stool, not alot of it though.  I was wondering if the barium has hardened because he hasn't passed all of it yet.  It's the weekend, emergency calls are expensive and it doesn't seem to bother him when I press on his abdomen.  I am in the health care field and I have seen where barium has obstructed bowel in humans.  What is your thought?  Thanks.
4 Responses
469901 tn?1276567223
My Max had pancreatitis 4 years ago and I recall his stomach was distended.  I think that the bowels moving is a good sign.  If you are concerned, you can call the emergency vet and ask about it; sometimes they will provide information over the phone.
One thing I should mention, pancreatitis can be a precursor to diabetes.  A year later, max developed diabetes.  (We manage it very well with diet and Vetsulin but it takes dedication, a rigid feeding schedule and 2 shots a day.)  Keep an eye out for the symptoms once your pal is well.  Early symptoms include increased drinking, iurinating more (accidents may be a sign), weight loss, increased appetite, dehydration and sudden cataract formation. Symptoms of more advanced diabetes should be treated immediately and include the above symptoms plus depression, weakness, vomiting, rapid breathing, and an acetone odor on the breath.
82861 tn?1333457511
Your dog is so lucky to be recovering already.  Pancreatitis is a horribly painful condition and the nausea is tremendous.  If he's already eating and keeping it down, he's definitely moving in the right direction.  As long as he IS having bowel movements, don't worry about a bit of bloat.  His entire system is in an uproar and he probably isn't yet producing all the digestive enzymes needed to properly digest solid food.  It may well be only gas.

Don't forget that you can call the ER vet and ask this question without being charged.  I've found such facilities very helpful for numerous questions when my own vet was unavailable.

I've had plent of barium down the throat and up the exit ramp as well, and the formulas used now are so much better than they were even 15 years ago.  They pass through much faster and the obstruction issues aren't nearly as bad.  As long as your pup is drinking plenty of water, the barium shouldn't cause any trouble.

Since the pancreas is a VERY picky organ, don't be surprised if your dog has ongoing digestive problems for some time.  He may have to be on a prescription or bland diet for the rest of his life.  Diabetes should only be an issue if he develops chronic pancreatitis for a very long time.  Eventually enough islet cells are damaged that insulin can no longer be produced.  I doubt that has happened yet with such a fast recovery, and it may never happen.

My aunt had a mini schnauzer who lived over 18 years, and most of those years included chronic pancreatitis with a few acute attacks requiring hospitalization.  Apparently pancreatitis is a big genetic problem with that breed now.  Don't despair!  Things are looking good for you both right now.  :-)
Avatar universal
Thanks for the information.  Duke's stomach has gone down quite a bit.  He is 14 but looks and acts 7.  He is doing great, hungry more than normal but he was NPO for 48 hours and I believe he is filling his stomach again, plus, he is on a bland diet and chicken and rice doesn't fill much.  Do you think it would be OK to give him plain grits?
That is very bland and I am trying to think of something else to feed him.  Thanks

leanne928
82861 tn?1333457511
Hi leeanne.  :-)  I lost my first dog to pancreatitis when he was almost 14.  He was NPO for the last 3 weeks of his life.  After the first week, he seemed well enough to try plain chicken and rice and he really enjoyed it.  Little did we know it was his last meal.  The next day he was right back to barfing everything - including water.  We took him to a specialist hospital where he had the same treatment in ICU as a human with pancreatitis.  He had a central line placed in his neck so he didn't have to get stuck with needles all the time, and was put on TPN - nutrition given via IV.  He also had a ton of pain meds - a 75 mcg fentanyl patch along with injections of dilaudid for breakthrough pain.  At least I know he was as comfortable as humanly possible those last couple of weeks.  

Anyway, the only reason I mention this story is because your dog at 14 is doing great!  It's not easy for any dog to recover this quickly from acute pancreatitis, but for a senior dog to come out of it so well is truly remarkable!  I wouldn't push any new foods too quickly.  His pancreas is still probably bubbling away angrily, and you don't want to aggravate it any more than necessary.  

Our first instinct is always to get an invalid fed well as soon as possible, but with the pancreas it's always best to go slowly.  Duke is doing great and you don't want to risk a relapse.  If you add anything else, I would try yogurt.  A little Danactive would be great because it has some of the digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas that are probably not in great supply right now.  48 hours of NPO for a dog in this condition is nothing to worry about.  Err on the side of caution and go easy on the diet no matter how hungry he tells you he is.  Water is the most important thing right now and allowing the pancreas to rest as it heals.  That's why the bland diet is so important at this time.  If you go back to regular food too soon, he'll have a relapse.  The only way to rest the pancreas is to not eat and require it to produce digestive enzymes.

If your vet didn't fully explain pancreatitis to you, in a nutshell it means that the organ is digesting itself because the digestive enzymes it produces can't flow to the small intestine.  As it becomes more and more swollen and inflamed, it can put pressure on the bile duct and then prevent bile from the liver from going to the small intestine.  That results in jaundice and eventual liver failure.  It is extremely important to give the pancreas time to calm down, so do your best to stick to that bland diet for now.  Grits probably wouldn't hurt him as long as you don't include butter or salt.  Fats in particular should be avoided.  I wouldn't change anything at all until you consult with your vet.

Please keep us posted on Duke's progress.  He really is remarkable!  :-)
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