Monday, November 5, 2012

Ask the Vet: Pancreatitis by Kristel Weaver, DVM, MPVM

Over the holidays we frequently hospitalize dogs and cats with pancreatitis.  Even if your cute little one is looking up at you with big, sad eyes it’s better for them not to eat the greasy turkey leftovers.  This month’s article is all about pancreatitis.

What is pancreatitis and what causes it?
Pancreatitis results from swelling and inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas not only produces hormones like insulin but also digestive enzymes.  These enzymes are normally inactive until they reach the intestinal tract.  But when the pancreas becomes inflamed they activate prematurely and digest the pancreas itself, causing a lot of damage.

How do I know if my dog has pancreatitis?
Dogs with pancreatitis vomit, aren’t interested in food, and have a painful belly.  They might show their abdominal pain by walking with a hunched back or stretching out in the prayer posture.  They might also be lethargic, have diarrhea, or a fever.  Your veterinarian will use a combination of history, examination, blood work, and ultrasound to diagnose pancreatitis.

How is pancreatitis treated?
Based on severity, pancreatitis is usually treated with a combination of fluids, pain medications, anti-nausea medications, and antibiotics.  Food is withheld for the first one to two days to “rest” the pancreas and give it a chance to heal.  Moderate to severe cases of pancreatitis require hospitalization on IV fluids, whereas mild cases might be treated as outpatients.  Severe pancreatitis can be fatal despite aggressive treatment. 

Are some dogs more predisposed to pancreatitis than others?
Yes, dogs with diabetes, hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, or high lipids are more likely to get pancreatitis.  Dogs that are obese or that eat a rich, fattening meal are also predisposed.  Dogs who have had a previous episode of pancreatitis are more likely to get it again.  Any dog can get pancreatitis and sometimes we cannot identify a reason why.

Do cats get pancreatitis too?
Yes!  Cats also get pancreatitis.  When cats have pancreatitis it is different from dogs in several ways.  First, they don’t usually have a history of eating a rich or fattening meal.  Second, they often have a chronic problem instead of a sudden attack.  Third, they are not typically vomiting and often only shows signs of a poor appetite and lethargy.  Diagnostics and treatment are similar for cats and dogs.

If you want to give your pet something special for the holiday buy a special treat from the pet store. It may be hard to resist those pleading eyes but your pet’s health is worth it! I hope you and your entire family have a wonderful Thanksgiving without an emergency visit to the veterinary hospital!

Dr. Kristel Weaver is a graduate of the Veterinary School at the University of California, Davis where she received both a DVM and a Master’s of Preventative Veterinary Medicine (MPVM).  She has been at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care in San Ramon since 2007.  She currently lives in Oakland with her husband and their daughter, Hayley. If you have questions you would like Dr. Weaver to answer for future articles, please email

Friday, November 2, 2012

Kitty Corner: Kitty Kozies by Erin Selby

We want to help make your kitty’s vet experience as positive and comforting as possible. That is why we came up with the idea of “Kitty Kozies”. 

What exactly is a Kitty Kozy, you ask? Well, essentially it is a large piece of soft fabric that can be draped over your cat’s carrier. The fabric has been sprayed with something called Feliway. Feliway is a synthetic cat pheromone. 

From the Feliway website:

“By mimicking the cat’s natural facial pheromones, Feliway creates a state of familiarity and security in the cat's local environment. As a result, Feliway can be used to help comfort and reassure cats while they cope with a challenging situation and help prevent or reduce the stress caused by a change in their environment.”

The idea is to help envelop your beloved pet in a cocoon of protected warmth and soothing scent. The sheet will help keep potentially stressful things such as dogs and other cats out of sight and out of mind. A Kitty Kozy turns your cat's carrier into an aromatic kitty cave! 

We know a trip to the vet isn't always at the top of your kitty's list of fun things to do. This is just one of the ways we make sure you and your feline friend are well taken care of at our hospital. Ask to try out a Kitty Kozy the next time you visit!

Do have any questions? Would you like to offer a suggestion? Email us at, subject line: Kitty Corner!