Owners of dogs with an inflamed pancreas may be wondering about commonly prescribed medications for dogs with pancreatitis. The term pancreatitis, is simply the medical term used to depict an inflamed pancreas. The dog's pancreas is an important organ responsible for secreting enzymes which are meant to aid in the digestion of food. When a dog's pancreas becomes inflamed, these enzymes end up attacking and damaging tissues. Dogs affected by this pancreatitis suffer from severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, lethargy and lack of appetite. Following is a list of medications commonly prescribed for dogs with pancreatitis.
Supportive Care for the Pancreas
When a dog's pancreas is inflamed, it must be allowed to heal over time. This is best done in a hospital setting as pancreatitis is a serious condition. In the past, the standard protocol was to give the pancreas some rest by fasting the dog for up to four days days; however, recently it has been recommended providing enteral nutrition (feeding directly into the gastrointestinal tract via tube) to dogs who aren't vomiting as soon as possible.
If dogs are vomiting, the vomiting should be controlled as soon as possible so that enteral feeding can be initiated, but for dogs who are relentlessly vomiting despite the aggressive use of medications, enteral feeding should be delayed and the dog should be fasted until the vomiting is under control. It's important that the nutrition provided though enteral feeding is low in fat.
Dogs suffering from pancreatitis should receive aggressive IV fluid therapy so to correct any fluid deficits, electrolyte imbalances and metabolic disturbances. Fluid therapy also offers the advantage of maintaining perfusion to the pancreas, points out Dr. Jana Gordon, a board-certified veterinarian specializing in internal medicine.
On top of fluid therapy, dogs may receive a variety a medications to provide additional supportive care as their pancreas recovers.
Anti-emetics for Dog Pancreatitis
Anti-emetics are medications that are meant to reduce vomiting, something that is commonly seen in dogs suffering from pancreatitis. Dolasetron is an 5HT-3 antagonist that works as an effective antiemetic and is often given by injection. This drug works by inhibiting 5-HT3 receptors in the dog's vomiting center. Ondansetron is a similar drug.
Another drug that has become quite popular is maropitant(Cerenia). This is an NK1 antagonist antiemetic drug a class of drugs that are often used for patients suffering from nausea due to chemotherapy. Cerenia can be used for dogs suffering from acute pancreatitis. This drug is FDA approved and can be given by mouth or as a shot.
Appetite Stimulant for Dog Pancreatitis
Dogs who are suffering from a bout of pancreatitis often lose their appetite, and it may be difficult to get them back to eating as they used to. If your dog is suffering from pancreatitis, the nausea and pain may have caused your dog to develop a negative association with food. If you are struggling in getting your dog to eat, you can ask your vet about prescribing an appetite stimulant for your dog.
There is an appetite stimulant called cyproheptadine, but mirtazapine (Remeron) is a newer drug and according to veterinarian Dr Gary, he has had more success with this drug.
Pain Relief for Dog Pancreatitis
Pancreatitis can be very painful to dogs, and dog owners are often tempted to give a dog in pain some over -the-counter aspirin. While aspirin can relieve pain and inflammation, aspirin is harsh on the stomach and many only make matters worse. There are far safer options to treat pain in dogs.
A commonly prescribed medication for dogs suffering from painful pancreatitis is Tramadol. Tramadol is an analgesic drug and is often prescribed to dogs suffering from pancreatitis to relieve pain. Tramadol is a mild opiod that works by blocking the pain receptors responsible for transmitting pain.
Some other possible pain relievers that are often provided by veterinarians in a hospital setting include butorphanol, buprenorphine, meperidine, morphine and fentanyl.
Other Possible Medications
Depending on the individual symptoms and preferred treatment protocols vets may also use other medications such GI protectants like Pepcid and antibiotics such as cefazolin or metronidazole. While it may sound odd to prescribe antibiotics an infectious complication can happen in dogs at times, but it's usually rare.
The use of antibiotics for pancreatitis remains a subject of controversy considering that can further upset the stomach. Antibiotics should be prescribed only if an infectious complication is strongly suspected or it is identified, explains Jana Gordon.
In some cases, the vet may prescribe a steroid like prednisone if he/she suspects an inflammatory condition rather than infectious one and the dog is not responding to normal therapy.
Other medications that may be used include heparin in the IV fluids to maintain blood circulation and prevent blood clots, and for severe cases, dogs may receive plasma transfusions on a daily basis.