There are a lot of different problems presented to veterinarieans that fall into the category of the gastrointestinal system for both dogs and cats. The following page should help clients understand some of the more common ailments that veterinarians may diagnose.

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

This condition although quite common does not have a consensus on the definition nor a set course for diagnosis. It can present to the hospital with several different clinical signs and sometime can be difficult to diagnosis. The best description for this syndrome is an increase in the numbers of or the shift in the species of microorganisms that make up the enviroment of the patients small intestine.

How do pets get SIBO?

There are several different ways that SIBO can occur and by itself or secondary to a current (usually unknown) problem. Common problems that SIBO can become secondary to are cancer, a foreign body (such as a pet ate a toy), adhesions, hypothyroidism, exocrine pancreatic insufficieny, as well as, many other immuneodeficienies. Ask your veterinarian if your dog has a predispostion to SIBO. SIBO can become a problem by itself when a pets diet is changed rapidly or more commonly a pet ingests something it shouldn’t have such a things from the trash (some veterinarians like to call this “trash can toxicosis”) or the dead bird in the backyard that you didn’t know about.

Diagnosis and Treatment for SIBO

There is no clear cut diagnostic route for SIBO and generally a practioner must “wade through” the clinical signs to determine the best path for diagnosis. There are several different symptoms that a pateint can present with during a bout with SIBO, such as, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, borrborygmus (“stomach growling”), may even come and go from time to time. If SIBO is secondary to a primary problem (such as hypothyroidism) then treatment for the primary problem then symptomactic treatment for the SIBO should eliviate the problems. With primary SIBO, generally at least a fecal analysis and sometimes blood work will be needed for diagnosis. Treatment for primary SIBO is generally a braod-spectrum antibiotic and other syptomatic treatments for either diarrhea and/or vomiting and may even require a short term or long term diet change.

Canine Parvovirus

For information go to Vaccines, then to Viral Diseases.


By definition, pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas but can be further classified by either an acute or chonic nature. In an acute episode of pancreatitis, the inflammation can occur with little to no permanent damage, however a chronic case of pancreatitis is often accompanied by irreversible changes to the pancreas. Acute pancreatitis is the more common condition seen with pets and can be caused by a large number of other things such as: nutritional factors, pancreatic trauma, duodenal reflux, toxins, pancreatic duct obstruction, hypercalcemia, infection (viral and bacterial), inflammatory preocesses in felines and my favorite idiopathic (unknown) causes.

Who is at risk?

Any pet can be at risk for having pancreatitis but Miniature schnauzers, Miniature poodles, Cocker spaniels and Siamese cats seem to have a higher incidence of disease.  It is also most common in middle aged pets, with 7 year old pets being the mean average in both cats and dogs. Female dogs also have a slight edge over males in being more common to have pancreatitis. There are also some factors that can increase the possiblities of a pancreatitis incident such as: obesity, diabetes mellitus, hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease), chronic kidney failure and several types of cancer.

Pancreatitis could be one turkey leg away!

What symptoms are most common with pancreatitis?

The most common findings with pancreatitis are lethargy, depression, anorexia (lack of appetite), vomiting (more common in dogs), weight loss (more common in cats), abdominal pain, fever and dehydration. Some pets have only one or two symptoms while some will have all of the above.

How is pancreatitis diagnosed?

Diagnosing a case of pancreatitis, can sometimes be very tricky because the symptoms may be very vague. Commonly, on the physical examination of a dog abdominal pain will be very apparent but generally this will not be a symptom in a cat. A CBC will generally be ran and dogs may have changes in the white blood cell count, where as, cats may or may not. On a chemistry panel, there are several changes that may or may not be seen such as; elevation of the liver enzymes due to exposure to pancreatic toxins, elevate biliruben level (most common in cats) due to liver damage and bile duct obstructions, elevated blood sugar or even decreased blood sugar in some cases (depending on which cells are most affected in the pancreas), elevated amylase, elevated lipase, evelvated cholesterol and elevated triglycerides are also very common. In some cases radiographs (X-rays) will be taken to look for obstruction of the intestines and inflammatory changes can be observed causing a loss of detail on the films. If an ultrasound is used irregularities may be seen due to edema (fluid retention) and hemorrhage of the pancreas.

How is pancreatitis treated?

Once the reason(s) behind the pancreatitis is sorted out treatment for the disoder is begun. Fluid therapy is nearly always needed to 1) replace lost fluids due to vomiting and/or diarrhea and 2) positively influence the hydration status. In those fluids, glucose may be added if the patient is low on blood sugar but will only be added if necessary. Anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory medication will also be added in nearly every case. Depending upon the patient and reason behind the episode, antibiotic may be utilized in the treatment regiment. Diet is something that should always be talked about after treatment is complete. For the next several days to weeks a diet easily digested by the pancreas will be highly recommended if not manditory by your veterinarian. This diet change may be temporary or could become the normal diet for the pet. EN made by Purina is a very good diet for the pet recovering from pancreatitis and is also a good maintenance diet to decrease the chances of a relapse of pancreatitis. Steering clear of high protien and high fat diets will also decrease the chances for relapse.

EN diet by Purina

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