I'm very encouraged this morning that Sammi may be getting better. She got up with the rest of the dogs this morning on her own and went outside and scouted the yard, and she's in here in my office with all of us right now. Prior to today, she just wanted to be by herself. She's much more alert than she has been, too, and her eyes look brighter.
I'm going to go get some chicken baby food and offer her some of that later this morning on the vet's advice. She still doesn't want anything to do with the dog food.
If you're interested, here's some information on pancreatitis, which is what the vet says she has:
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, causing leakage of the digestive enzymes whereby the pancreas literally starts to "digest itself". Pancreatitis can be acute (sudden) or chronic (happening over a course of time). Both acute and chronic forms are serious and can be life-threatening, especially the acute form.
For the majority of cases, the cause is unknown. Pancreatitis can occur in both dogs and cats, but is generally more common in dogs, especially the acute form. Cats more commonly have the chronic form, and it can be difficult to diagnose. In dogs, obese middle age to older animals have a higher incidence, as do females. Even though exact causes are not known, there are identifiable risk factors. Here are some potential risk factors:
· Hyperlipidemia (high fat content in blood)
· High fat meal (trigger for hyperlipidemia)
· Obesity (especially dogs)
· Concurrent disease - i.e. Cushing's, Diabetes
· Contaminated food or water
· Certain drugs and toxins
· Bacterial or viral infection
The signs can vary from mild gastrointestinal upset to collapse and death. Most animals present with common gastrointestinal signs of upset, such as:
· Not eating
· Painful abdomen, hunched appearance (more common in dogs)
· Fever or below-normal body temperature
· Dehydration, evaluated by noting sunken eyes, dry mouth, and increased skin turgor (skin tents when pinched)
These signs are not specific for Pancreatitis, and can be seen with many gastrointestinal diseases and conditions. All or some of the signs may be noted in an individual patient with Pancreatitis. Cats can be especially difficult to diagnose due to the vague signs they exhibit with chronic Pancreatitis - depression/lethargy and poor appetite are seen with regularity, and gastrointestinal signs of vomiting, diarrhea, and / or pain are seen intermittently.
Treatment for this disease is supportive, meaning that there isn't usually a direct cause and cure, but supporting the animal while allowing healing. The veterinary team will take care of the animal's nutritional and fluid needs, pain management, and addressing any other disease processes (infection, diabetes, etc.) while letting the pancreas heal on its own. Resting the pancreas and gastrointestinal system is key, and this means no food or water by mouth for 1 to 5 or more days. This is dependent on the severity of each case, and the animal must be on fluids and other support to survive and heal the pancreas while off of oral food and water.
The prognosis in mild cases is good, but prognosis in severe cases of pancreatitis is poor in both dogs and cats. About 50% of human patients with severe pancreatitis die, and the mortality rate appears to be similar in dogs and cats. A challenge in both human and veterinary medicine is the identification of severe cases early during the disease process and the prevention of complications.