Acute Pancreatitis: Is Your Bully At Risk?

15 Jun Acute Pancreatitis: Is Your Bully At Risk?

Although we all want our bullies to be healthy and happy at all times, issues are prone to arise. Pancreatitis happens to be one of the medical conditions on the more serious end of the spectrum.

What is pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is best described as inflammation of the pancreas. This gland produces digestive enzymes. Inflammation occurs when digestive juices activate prematurely while still in the gland. As a result, the organ digests its own tissue.

There are two forms of this condition. Chronic pancreatitis is an ongoing condition caused by an abnormal pancreas. By contrast, acute pancreatitis results from a sudden and severe attack.

Chronic pancreatitis symptoms include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Occasional vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss

Acute pancreatitis symptoms include:

  • Abrupt onset of abdominal pain and vomiting. (Abdominal pain may be displayed as restlessness or wincing when picked up. Your bully may also hunch over in a “praying” position with their rear up and chest down. Crying and whimpering are other indicators of abdominal pain).
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Shock

Attacks are often triggered after eating table scraps or a fatty meal. In fact, many acute cases rise after Thanksgiving. Usually, dogs have eaten turkey skin, drippings and fatty ham bones.


To diagnose pancreatitis, a physical exam and blood work is necessary. The results of the blood work will display elevated amylase and/or lipase levels. An abdominal ultrasound may also reveal an enlarged pancreas.


After an episode, your bully must “rest” the pancreas by not ingesting anything by mouth. He will receive fluids through an intravenous saline drip.

This usually persists for no more than 48 hours in mild cases and up to five days with severe cases. Medication is given for pain and vomiting.  In some cases, surgery may be necessary to drain the pancreas.


Your bully should maintain a healthy weight and follow a fat restricted diet. Other ways to prevent the onset of acute pancreatitis include eliminating table scraps and dividing food intake into small servings.

Digestive Enzyme Supplements are also recommended as they may ease how hard the pancreas has to work.

Dogs that are at a higher risk of suffering from pancreatitis include:

  • Dogs taking corticosteroids
  • Dogs who already have diseases associated w/ high serum lipid levels (Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism)
  • Dogs with diabetes
  • Overweight spayed females
  • Dogs eating high fat diets, or a consistent diet of fatty table scraps
  • Dogs who have a history of pancreatitis


What does this mean for your Bully?

Bullies are not genetically predisposed to pancreatitis. But some factors increase your bully’s chance of having an attack. While human food and fatty trimming may be a treat for your bully, too much of a good thing will put them at risk. A healthy weigh in less muscular (less athletic) bulldog breeds, will also lower the risk.

Before breeding a dog it is wise to screen for diseases that could cause pancreatitis. This will prevent diseases from being passed down through several generations.

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