How to Comfort a Dog with Pancreatitis (Help the Pain)

How to Comfort a Dog with Pancreatitis

Seeing your dog hunched up, lethargic, vomiting, not eating, plus all those other typical pancreatitis symptoms is heart-breaking when you’re powerless to help your dog’s chronic pain. Thankfully there are a few ways in which you help a dog with pancreatitis at home.

The ways listed below are from six pet owners who have owned dogs with pancreatitis. I hope this helps you to comfort your dog with chronic pancreatitis and gives him or her some respite.

How to help a dog with pancreatitis pain

1. Keep your dog company

One of the easiest, yet effective ways, of comforting a dog with pancreatitis or any type of pain is to spend time with them. Your dog looks to you as the alpha and the protector who comforts them in times of trouble.

Stay near to your dog as much as much as you can. This will make them feel cared for during their difficult time and give you a chance to monitor their progress too.

If you notice anything usual more than 24 hours after their discharge from the vets, e.g., a change in gum color, not eating at all, or bloody diarrhea, call back immediately.

how to help a dog with pancreatitis
Comfort and help your dog with lots of company. (Image licensed via Storyblocks.com)

2. Give them a peaceful recovery environment

Whilst many dogs love the sound of music and a busy environment, when they feel low and in pain, it won’t help them. Instead, you can comfort a dog with pancreatitis by giving them a peaceful and stressless home to feel better in.

Avoid making any loud noises in the house since this will make them uncomfortable as they rest. If you have young children around, ensure your dog’s resting spot is out of bounds so they can rest without any disturbances.

3. Pet them, but be careful when petting them

Speaking of young children, it’s very easy for them to not fully appreciate what your dog is going through, and pet or touch them as they normally would – this needs to be avoided at all costs, for the dog and child’s sake… the dog could bite if in pain.

But that doesn’t mean no petting at all. You can ease a dogs pancreatitis pain by showing them love and the petting they expect, but just in the right places.

As you pet your dog while assuring them (in soft tones) that they will be alright, avoid petting their belly area. Any slight pressure may worsen their abdominal pain.

4. Provide potty pads for comfort

Another way you can help a dog with pancreatitis at home is by making their life easier when it comes to calls of nature. It’s very common for dogs with pancreatitis to have pee accidents around the house.

Your dog may unintentionally pee or poop a bit on their resting area, which will ruin their comfort and give them additional stress they don’t need.

Get enough potty pads to prevent the potty mess – like these ones on Amazon. Make sure there is a potty pad on your dog’s resting spot and change it often.

5. Strictly follow the vet’s feeding instructions

Your dog’s diet is the root of the pain, so the best way to comfort a dog with pancreatitis is to address the cause. I didn’t put this tip for helping dogs with pancreatitis further up the page, as it should really be a default action…

Your dog’s diet and feeding routine after a pancreatitis diagnosis will greatly determine their recovery progress.

The vet will advise you not to feed your dog anything for a couple of hours after returning home. The reason for this food-withholding period is to avoid creating any more irritation on the already-sensitive digestive system.

Be sure to stick to this “no-food timeframe” as instructed – this will help a dog with chronic pancreatitis and could put them on the road to recovery.

Your vet will also tell you when to start offering your sick dog food. So, when you do, only give them vet-approved meals, and stick to the food portions recommended.

Dogs recovering from pancreatitis need to be on a strict low fat diet – don’t add anything to made their food taste better.

Plus, they should only eat a small amount of food each mealtime (your vet will also advise you on the frequency of feeding).

Do not exceed the recommended food portion or feeding frequency, as doing so will cause your dog more pain and delay their recovery – it certainly won’t help a dog a pancreatitis.

You can bring their food bowl to where they are. This may encourage them to eat up.

6. Do not miss giving any prescribed medications

The vet will prescribe pain relief and anti-nausea drugs to comfort your dog’s pancreatitis symptoms such as extreme abdominal pain and nausea.

Ensure you give them the instructed dose at the right time. If that means setting the alarm to help you not forget, do so.

7. Keep them well hydrated

You can also comfort a dog with pancreatitis by keeping them hydrated. Pancreatitis can leave your furry friend dehydrated because of vomiting and diarrhea. If dehydration kicks in, it will cause many problems that won’t help your dog’s recovery from pancreatitis.

You can avoid this by ensuring your dog has enough fresh drinking water. Consider bringing their drinking bowl next to where they’re resting.

Consider adding some ice cubes to refresh the water or mix their food with a bit of water if they aren’t drinking from their bowl as you hoped.

Be sure to talk to your vet if your dog hardly drinks their water from the bowl.

More on how to help a dog with chronic pancreatitis

Having a sick dog is a stressful time for any pet parent, especially if what’s tormenting your dog is an extremely painful condition such as pancreatitis.

Although we wish it weren’t, pancreatitis is a common condition among our four-legged friends. Many dogs develop it at some point in their life, and it’s probably one of the worst conditions a dog can suffer from – sadly it can be chronic.

When your dog has pancreatitis, it means they have an inflamed pancreas.

Here’s how this happens.

The pancreas, which sits right under your dog’s tummy, has two main jobs: releasing digestive enzymes into the small intestines to allow food breakdown, and making hormones that help regulate your dog’s blood sugar levels.

The digestive enzymes only get activated once they enter the small intestines.

But when something “disturbs” the pancreas, these digestive enzymes begin working inside the pancreas itself — yet this shouldn’t happen. The activated enzymes will act on the pancreas (more like trying to break down the pancreas), making it inflamed.

This inflammation causes unbearable abdominal pain.

Some of the most well-known triggers (see on AKC.org) of pancreatitis in dogs are eating fatty foods (whether dog food or table scraps), hormonal imbalances, and the side effects of certain medications.

Canine pancreatitis causes

  • Dogs that have a High-fat diet.
  • Dogs that hoover up anything on the ground.
  • Dogs that have become obese.
  • Dogs with Hypothyroidism (or other endocrine diseases).
  • Dogs who have been subjected to a severe blunt trauma.
  • Dogs with diabetes.

If the inflammation isn’t treated promptly, the toxins being released as the enzymes harm the pancreas can end up in your dog’s blood. And when this happens, your dog will experience body-wide pain.

You need to rush your dog to the vet when you spot the following symptoms:

  • An unusual posture – You’ll find your dog in the “prayer position” most times (head and front legs lowered to the floor while lifting their backside high in the air).
  • Abdominal area looks swollen.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Extreme nausea.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Unusual breathing.
  • Restlessness.
  • Lethargic.

Keeping your dog at home to “monitor if they will get better” will only make them endure hours of pain. But when they first receive medical treatment, they will have a better experience recovering at home after discharge.

How long it will take for them to heal from pancreatitis depends on whether it’s mild or serious.

Dogs with mild cases may heal after a few days of home-based care. But if the vet tells you the inflammation is serious, it may take a week (or more) for them to recover fully.

That said, you can comfort your dog with pancreatitis at home, and hopefully help them to recover.

FAQs on helping dogs with pancreatitis

How can I ease my dog’s pancreatitis pain?

As discussed earlier, make sure you stick to your vet’s diet recommendation, give any prescribed medication as instructed, keep them well hydrated, create a peaceful recovery environment, and spend a lot of time with them.

How long does pancreatitis flare-up last in dogs?

Pancreatitis flare-up can last a few days or go for a week (or more), depending on how mild or severe it is.

What is the best thing to give a dog with pancreatitis?

The best thing you can give them is vet-recommended foods and prescribed medications. You should also keep a dog with pancreatitis well-hydrated and create a peaceful recovery environment for them.

How long does a dog take to recover from pancreatitis?

The recovery period depends on whether the pancreatitis is mild or severe.

Dogs with mild pancreatitis take only a few days to recover, while those with serious cases take a week or more. It can be fatal.

Social media comments

I also took to social media to see what other dog owners advise on how they help their dog with pancreatitis. Here are some comments on what they do to comfort their dogs.

“One of my Frenchies had pancreatitis and was put on low-fat food. As soon as he was on those biscuits, he was back to himself and was no longer sad, lethargic or anything. If you really want to help a dog with pancreatitis pain, make sure they can’t get to any food they shouldn’t and that can reduce flare-ups.”

“My dog has had pancreatitis for many years. She’s now on a low-fat diet with way less carbs. You can find recipes on the internet or talk to your vet about other ways to help and comfort, as mine was so helpful.”

“Our dog had it so is now forever on low fat foods. He is not allowed any type of people food with any fat, butter, etc. I am so glad they figured it out. I only give him food which has 5% or less fat. This includes biscuits and treats.”

“My Boxer used to get it because I was feeding a salmon based diet which was too rich. Now he just eats vegetarian hydrolyzed protein kibble and he loves it. He also takes Pepcid daily. Never had another flare up since.”

Conclusion

Seeing your dog in pain with pancreatitis is heartbreaking. All you’d want to know is what you can do or say to speed up their recovery from this painful illness.

There are a few of things you can do to comfort your dog during this difficult recovery period. Spend time with them, pet them the right way, ensure they’re hydrated, stick to the vet-recommended diet, and don’t skip any prescribed medication, among others as I’ve listed above.

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Image in header via https://unsplash.com/photos/5I9pvfpc44U

Marc Aaron

I write about the things I've learned about owning a dog, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way.

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