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"Barney" - Yorkshire Terrier with Acute Pancreatitis

Photo: Barney


The pancreas is a delicate organ within the abdominal cavity which has 2 main functions.

As well as the production of insulin for the control of blood sugar its other main function is the production of chemicals or enzymes which breakdown or digest the food we eat. Premature activation of these potent enzymes causes the digestion of the patient itself and is the principal problem in acute pancreatitis.

Acute Pancreatitis is a condition that has been on the increase in human medicine and is thought to be associated with a rise in alcohol consumption!Given that our patients do not imbibe in the same manner (I hope!) we usually have to come up with some other explanation.



Barney was initially presented to me last week with vague symptoms of lethargy and vomiting. Over the course of the next 24 hours his condition deteriorated and he was admitted for bloods tests and supportive fluid therapy. Very high levels of these destructive enzymes (amylase and lipase) are found in the bloodstream and confirm the diagnosis.

In dogs, acute pancreatitis is more common in middle aged terriers such as Barney. In this instance, the most likely initiating factor is probably an ascending infection from his bile duct which lies in close proximity to the opening to the pancreas.

Fortunately, supportive treatment with fluid therapy, painkillers and antibiotics has been enough to have him back to his oldself but not without a scare for his owner who has found it difficult to be separated from her old companion.

Barney is going to have to miss out on that afternoon sherry from now on!

Terry Dunne BVMS, Cert SAO, MRCVS

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