Pancreas Disease

Pancreas and Learn about Diabetes

The pancreas is an essential part of our digestive system. The pancreas is located in the bend between the stomach and the duodenum. The pancreas is a gland that produces digestive enzymes which are released into the intestine. The pancreas also has hormonal functions as well. It produces all the insulin of the body. Diabetes is the lack of insulin production by the pancreas. To understand the power of the pancreas think of that hamburger you just ate. It must be digested within one hour tot he point that it could be injected I.V. I.V. hamburger is a weird thought, nevertheless 95% of your hamburger will be intravenous within 1 hour of you leaving Mc D’s. This is the result of some of the most powerful enzymes on this planet and they are made and stored in the pancreas. The pancreas is like an ammo dump with high explosive artillery ready for use at a moment’s notice. Grenades are kept in the pancreas in an inactive safe state, then, as food comes into the small intestine, the pin is pulled and BOOM!!, the food is dissolved. These chemicals are very specific for the proteins, fats and carbos that are dissolved yet they can dissolve good tissue as well as food. This is what happens in pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is where the pancreas is inflamed and releases its grenades into normal tissues. This self consumption is very painful and can be fatal. The pancreas is located on the left side of the body just under the rib cage. Pain can usually be elicited when palpating an animal with pancreatitis. Vomiting is a major sign and any food in the stomach or gut will cause more grenades to go off making maters worse. These animals must be on IV fluids because their gut is no longer in service. Until the war-zone calms down the animal should remain on IV fluids. Toxic chemicals can actually stop the heart causing the animal to crash. Animals at risk are usually older, female, small breed, dogs. Shelties seem to be at higher risk. The pancreas gets upset one day from stress or too much fat or garbage in the diet. Because the pancreas is in meltdown mode, there are accumulations of fats in the blood (lipemia) spin the blood down to look for this in suspected cases. In addition, the animal might go through a transient case of diabetes evidenced by high blood glucose. Ultrasound is recommended if available to see the extent of inflammation. A TLI test is also helpful. Pancreatitis can also mimic gallbladder disease as well as severe gastro enteritis and is difficult to diagnose.

Diabetes is the lack of insulin. Insulin is the key that opens the door to let glucose into the cell. All cells live on glucose, without insulin the cells starve for lack of glucose. There is still glucose absorbed into the bloodstream but it cannot get into the cells without insulin. Therefore, glucose will buildup in the blood causing high blood sugar and subsequent diuresis (urinating a lot). This urination causes thirst – so the animal is usually producing lots of urine and is drinking lots of water. The cells in the body are hungry so they tell the animal to eat, eat, and eat. Many clients do not think anything is wrong until late in the disease. Pets may be fat or skinny with diabetes. When the starvation of the cells becomes severe, they use excessive fats for glucose production, this results in the buildup of Ketone in the blood. This byproduct of fat metabolism is toxic and can cause coma and death. Ketosis causes a sweet smell to the breath and urine. Diabetes is diagnosed by high sugar in the urine as well as blood stream. Diabetes is treated with daily insulin injections.


Please label the anatomical landmarks indicated.

  • What is the function of the pancreas?
  • What other disease can be caused by disease of the pancreas.
  • How does the pancreas break down food?
  • What is the typical dog with pancreatitis?
  • What is diabetes and how is it treated?