The pancreas is a glandular organ that is tucked under the stomach and duodenum (first part of the small intestine) in the dog and cat. It has two functions: 1. exocrine - to produce the enzymes needed to digest food, and 2. endocrine - to produce hormones, including the hormone insulin, which facilitates the uptake and storage of glucose (sugar) and amino acids (proteins).
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. 1. Hyperlipidemia (high fat content in blood); 2. Diets high in fat (greasy people food), trigger for hyperlipidemia; 3. Obesity; 4. Concurrent disease - i.e.Cushing's, Diabetes; 5. Contaminated food or water; 6. Certain drugs, some types of antibiotics or diuretics; 7. Toxins, like organophosphate insecticide; 8. Bacterial or viral infections.
The importance for a healthy pancreas and a healthy pet, starts with a healthy food, pure water, regular exercise, and avoiding chemicals, toxins and pesticides.
For more information on Diagnosis, Symptoms, Treatment and Prognosis: go to www.peteducation.com (pancreatitis)