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Ask the Veterinarian/canine pancreatitis


I have a 4.5 yr old female catahoula two weeks ago diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis. Her levels upon first test were 800. Went to bland diet of white rice/cottage cheese, started 20 mg daily of pepcid, 2 week course of metronidizole and daily probiotic. Slowly introduced hills ID during this time. She had improved attitude, appetite, stool, etc. Took her for recheck of blood and it is now over 1000. She is better outwardly but technically worse. I am both confused and concerned, my vet wants me to give it another month and bring her back in. When pressed for course of treatment it felt like a circular conversation that seemed to say there is no treatment. What dobi do? I don't want to sit around and wait for her pancrease to scar to the point of failure. How is that an option?!
secondly, her first clinical signs of an issue was in June when she was being fed a good that was recalled - California Naturals low fat lamb and rice. Recalled for salmonella, I fed it to her for 3 weeks. Could this have started this situation?
Thank you

HI Kristin,
Sorry it took so long to answer you but I was having some computer issues.I am not really sure why her pancratic levels would go up during treatment but if she is eating better, feeling better and is overall improved, I would say you (and your vet) are on the right track.

I/D is a great, low fat diet that is very soothing to the digestive tract. Some dogs stay on it for life and do very well on it. So keep her on this as long as you can.

I don't really know if the food you were feeding started this but it's very possible that she got a small amount of the bacteria. Usually kidney failure or major sickness (overall) results in dogs eating these foods.
Did you know that Science Diet has never had a recall of food in the 70 years they have been in existence? This alone is enough to make me stay with them!

I don't think that her pancreas is scarring if she is feeling better. The "is no treatment" may have been that you are on the treatment of choice for her and that there isn't anything much different she could do. If the dog wasn't improved I would definitely ask for a change in antibiotics or a second opinion but since she is better, even though her numbers are higher, I would venture to say that maybe they just hadn't reached the top that they were headed when she was first tested. The Merck Manual suggests a trial of steroids for dogs that do not respond to treatment but only for a short time. Your dog is responding so that won't be the case here. Since she is eating and drinking then fluids are unnecessary at this time (IV fluids that is). These are generally given when the dog first presents at the vets with the disease. The prognosis for a mild case of pancreatitis is relatively good. Some dogs never get it again. The Merck mentions that some dogs with Babesia canis infections (which are from ticks in the southern states normally) have gotten pancreatitis but the normal risk factor for dogs is dietary indiscretion. That little piece of ham, the bacon grease, the cheese, whatever people food the dog might get now and then.

If it's been at least two weeks I would call and ask if it would be beneficial to check her blood work earlier to head off any other issues that might be arising. It could be that it's going to take a month for the enzyme levels to get back to normal after this episode and that's why she has you on a one month recall.

Once she is better I would definitely get her on some Science Diet for digestive health and keep her on that for life. I would never go back to a store brand. Since ALL of Science Diets ingredients are grown in the USA they have never had this issue. Their food is made in human- grade facilities and inspected and tested constantly for any bacterial problems.

You can really trust SD and ALL of Hills products. I have seen ALL of my pets live longer, healthy and disease free lives on it. Not one of my pets has ever been sick since feeding Science Diet. They just grow old and die!

I hope this has answered your questions. Please let me know what her numbers are the next time you have her blood work done.  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 42 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love. I also Teach Veterinary Technology to working technicians who are studying to take their California Tests to become Licensed Technicians. They have to take both the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Exam) and the California boards.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.


Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 1500 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

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Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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