Hugo, a 6 year old Chihuahua, came to see us back in January. His owners were very concerned about him after he had been acutely vomiting, and was now very depressed and not eating. His owner made an appointment to have him checked over. He had a full clinical examination by Dr Hazel Maw and she found that he was dehydrated, had a high fever, and was very sore in his tummy. Due to his severe abdominal pain and dehydration, his owner consented to have him admitted to hospital for treatment and further investigations.
When Hugo was admitted to our hospital, he initially had some blood taken to run some tests with our in house laboratory equipment. He was then then given intravenous fluids and medications before settling him in our dog ward.
The blood test revealed that Hugo had a high white blood cell count and high globulins (a type of blood protein) consistent with a severe inflammatory process. A blood test for pancreatitis also showed a positive result, although this test is not specific for pancreatitis and can show a positive result for other inflammatory conditions inside the abdominal cavity.
Hugo required further investigations and he had an abdominal ultrasound scan which confirmed that his pancreas was enlarged and very inflamed, and there was some fluid around it. There was a concern of an abscess within the pancreas. The changes seen were consistent with severe necrotising pancreatitis. This is a severe inflammation and infection of the pancreas, which is a life threatening and very painful condition. The pancreas produces digestive enzymes which are usually released in an inactive form to the small intestine where they are activated and break down food. In the case of pancreatitis, these enzymes become active within the pancreas itself causing severe tissue damage and inflammation. Hugo was very poorly and would need to spend more time with us.
Hugo was receiving intravenous fluids to correct his dehydration, anti-sickness and gut protectant medications to prevent further vomiting, and pain relief. Poor Hugo needed 4 different types of pain relief to keep him comfortable, including drugs given as a constant infusion in his intravenous fluids. This treated the pain from lots of different angles and kept his pain controlled throughout the day and night. Hugo also needed intravenous antibiotics to treat the suspected abscess. He required intensive nursing care from both our Vet and Nurse teams throughout his stay with us. He was closely monitored each day, including ultrasounds of his abdomen to make sure the fluid build up was getting smaller and the abscess was resolving.
Hugo can sometimes be a very nervous when he comes to the vets, however throughout his time in hospital he was a very brave boy and did not complain at all! With lots of intensive nursing care, he made slow but steady improvements, and was discharged home to his owners after 7 days in hospital.
He is now back to his normal cheeky self and has not shown any signs of a recurrence. We do not always know what causes pancreatitis. Some breeds, particularly small breed dogs, cocker spaniels, and terriers, are predisposed, and in some cases scavenging high fat foods can be a trigger. Hugo is now on a low fat diet to try reduce the risk of recurrence. He was very brave throughout despite how poorly he was, and we’re so pleased that he has done so well!