Can Canine Pancreatitis And Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis Coexist?

“J” writes about her pet, Tucker: After a brief escape under the fence recently, one of my dogs woke the next morning obviously in distress and with diarrhea that was pure blood. Based on lab tests, he was diagnosed with pancreatitis and hospitalized for 24 hours on fluids and IV medications. It was a very scary experience, but in spite of the dramatic symptoms, he made a quick recovery. His veterinarian recommended a life-long low-fat diet for him and he’s doing well. After reading your article and following your link on HGE, though, I’m curious. Bloody stools aren’t typically listed as a symptom of pancreatitis. Can they be or could he have had HGE, too?J, my recollection of the percentage of cases of canine pancreatitis that report diarrhea is somewhere around 15-20%. It is certainly not a consistent finding. However, little about pancreatitis in dogs is “consistent.” As I said in the original piece, canine pancreatitis is a great imitator.

We have a lot of confidence in the organ-specific blood test, PLI, Pancreatic Lipase Immunoassay, mentioned in the article. Even though the “stated” accuracy of the test is about 80%, when a positive result is returned, we strongly believe our patient has pancreatitis.

Could HGE and pancreatitis coexist? I’m confident that they can. Take Tucker’s story “…after a brief escape under the fence…” If he got into someone’s garbage can or food discarded over the back fence, and that food was high in fat, and spoiled, there is a very strong likelihood that the intestinal tract will be inflamed along with the angry pancreas.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

Tucker, sometimes the escapee, probably ate something he shouldn't have, resulting in pancreatitis.
Tucker, sometimes the escapee, probably ate something he shouldn't have, resulting in pancreatitis.

2 Comments

  1. Our schnauzer experienced all the symptoms of HGE (so scary!) and was given the diagnosis of pancreatitis (based on pancreatitis test). She never had any of the symptoms of pancreatitis before this HGE episode and not since. We do have her on a lower fat diet now. She was already on a low fat diet. I wonder if she really has pancreatitis or if the HGE episode caused elevated levels in the test for pancreatitis?
    The emergency vets disregarded that she may have been sick from eating Scott’s turf builder soil mixed with seed in the yard (trying to fill in dead patches of grass). I’m sure it had fertilizer in it and the soil was a little clumpy. Both our dogs were sick but only one had bloody diarrhea and bloody vomiting/HGE. I wonder if I should get her tested again? It’s good for schnauzers to be on low fat diet anyway but may not need to be prescription.

    • Your experience highlights just one of the challenges of diagnosing the patient with gastrointestinal signs. HGE? Pancreatitis? Both simultaneously? Any one of many other possible disorders? Only extensive testing can narrow down the possibilities. The vast majority of these patients receive symptomatic care, get well, have no further GI problems and, therefore, no further testing is done. Those patients with ongoing problems should be worked up with more detail. The bedside pancreatitis test by IDEXX is extremely accurate and quite specific. Testing when the patient is asymptomatic is typically unrewarding. While you could change foods, if the diet you’re using is working, do you really want to take a chance? Thanks for reading, Dr. Randolph.

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