Elimay Blog

Do Dogs Really Heal Faster Using Cold Laser Therapy? by Deborah Shores, DVM

About Laser Therapy

Laser therapy has become increasing popular among veterinarians in the past few years for use in wound and tissue healing, pain management, anti-inflammatory control, and much more. There are multiple types of laser therapy, each targeting a specific area of treatment. In this article, we will be discussing “cold” laser therapy, or “Cryotherapy.”


What is Cold Laser Therapy?

Originally, lasers were first used to cut or seal tissue during surgery. The lasers that are used for this treatment are often “hot” or higher-level lasers. Recently however, cold or low-level lasers have started being used as a therapeutic tool.


Laser is an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” When a laser is used, electromagnetic energy is focused into intense beam of light, intended to stimulate tissue and cells.


There are four different categories of lasers which distinguish the strength of a laser based on its power output. For example, Class I-IIIa lasers include supermarket scanners, remote controls, and laser pointers. These are considered safe, while Class IIIb lasers can potentially pose the risk of eye injury and safety protection is encouraged. Any laser with a power output of 500 milliwatts (mW) or more is considered hazardous. Fortunately, all low-level lasers have a power output of less than 500 mW.


How does Cold Laser Therapy work?

Lasers rely on photobiomodulation to cause change to cells and tissues. Photobiomodulation, simply put, is the application of intense light with the goal of modifying cells or tissues. Healing is caused when the light enters the mitochondria of the cell and triggers beneficial modifications. Therapeutic lasers can stimulate tissues, causing advanced wound healing and pain relief. Lasers are gaining recognition for their benefits with helping dogs in rehabilitation as well.(1)


What can Cold Laser Therapy help with?

Cold laser therapy can be used to treat a variety of acute and chronic injuries, including the following:

  • Acupuncture Points

Laser beams can be used to trigger traditional Chinese acupuncture points, either used solely or in conjunction with acupuncture needles.

  • Anti-Inflammatory Relief

The use of cold laser therapy causes blood vessels to dilate (vasodilation), as well as activating the drainage process of the lymphatic system.

  • Musculoskeletal System

Cold laser therapy can aid the healing of sprains, strains, fractures, and chronic musculoskeletal issues. 

  • Neurological System

Nerve injuries and spinal cord lesions can be healed with cold laser therapy. It can also improve nerve function and accelerate regrowth.

  • Pain Management

Cold laser therapy can be extremely beneficial in reducing both acute and chronic pain.( 2)

  • Tissue Healing

Acceleration of cellular reproduction and growth can be brought on by cold laser therapy. It can also reduce tissue inflammation.

  • Wound Healing

The use of laser therapy induces cellular growth, causing your dog’s body to heal more rapidly. It also helps to produce new blood vessels, activate collagen, a required protein for tissue development, and DNA synthesis.


How can my dog receive cold laser therapy?

More and more veterinary clinics are offering cold laser therapy services to clients. Call your veterinarian and ask if they provide this technique. If you have any questions about cold laser therapy, ask me!

About Dr. Deborah Shores

Dr. Deborah Shores is a graduate of Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She has many years of experience working in animal hospitals and clinics from Virginia to South Carolina, treating mainly dogs and cats. She has a special interest in nutrition and holistic veterinary medicine and plans to pursue an acupuncture certificate at the Chi Institute in Florida.



Kirkby, Kristin. Therapeutic Lasers in Veterinary Medicine. ACVIM Proceedings. 2012.

Van Dyke, Janet. Introduction to Physical Modalities in Rehabilitation. WSAVA/FECAVA/BSAVA World Congress Proceedings. 2012.



Effective Pain Relief for Dogs

Effective Pain Relief for Dogs

Being in tune with your dog's comfort level is essential for diagnosing health problems before they become serious. As your dog's owner, you are likely the only person who can discern subtle mood and behavioral changes in your dog. These changes may indicate pain. It's crucial to pay close attention to your dog, since dogs instinctively attempt to mask pain. We can help if you're trying to figure out if your dog is suffering or if you're looking for a solution!

Common Causes of Pain in Dogs

Typically, dogs experience three types of pain: acute, chronic, and post-operative. Acute pain may be caused by an injury or infection; injuries are particularly common in active dogs. On the other hand, you have chronic pain. Rather than having a rapid onset, chronic pain tends to increase over time and indicate a serious problem. Chronic pain is commonly caused by arthritis, bone disease, and cancer. Elimay Pain Care can be a very effective supplement for these types of pain.

Postoperative pain is in a different category, since pain is a common and expected side effect of surgery. Typically, you must follow a strict post-surgery routine that is designed to keep your dog safe and comfortable during the healing period.

Signs of Dog Pain

Before deciding which type of dog pain relief is most appropriate for your dog, you can look for signs of pain in your pup. This may help you discern how serious your dog's discomfort is.

Vocalization: Whining, yelping, whimpering, or other atypical vocalizations can indicate pain, especially if they occur when you try to touch your dog.

Daily Routine Changes: If your dog wants to go outside less, sleeps more, or suddenly begins eating less, your canine friend may be trying to deal with pain. For example, a dog that avoids walking or running may be suffering from dog joint pain.

Personality Changes: Does your dog suddenly want to interact less with you, other pets, or other animals? Dogs may withdraw as a result of pain.

Self-Mutilation: Licking and biting oneself is a type of natural pain relief for dogs. Watch where your dog licks or bites to figure out what is hurting him.

Aggression: Aggression is a very common side effect of pain, and it can be very worrisome for pet owners! If your dog isn't typically aggressive, he may be acting out due to pain. Pain is a sign of weakness for dogs, and if they're uncomfortable, they don't want anyone to unintentionally make it worse.

Alternative Pain Relief Options for Canines

Rather than going straight to conventional pain relievers for dogs, you might wish to try natural treatments for dog pain. Dog pain medicine can have side effects like constipation or sleepiness, which you may not want to put your dog through. Alternative treatments can often be just as effective without the side effects. What can dogs take for pain? There are many options.

Acupuncture: Acupuncture is a type of Chinese medicine that has been used for thousands of years. In recent years, some holistic veterinarians have started using it as a pain reliever for dogs.

Chiropractic: Chiropractic care has become a mainstream part of human health care as of late, and a growing amount of veterinarians have approved it for dogs. A veterinary chiropractor aligning your dog's spine may minimize pain. 

Homeopathy: It's important to consult with an experienced homeopath if you want to try this remedy. Homeopathy involves the careful selection and dilution of pain-relieving ingredients. Arnica is a popular homeopathic remedy, especially for dogs with chronic pain.

Elimay Pain Care: There are quite a few dog supplements available to take away your dog's pain. However, Elimary Pain Care is one of the most well-known and respected blends amongst veterinarians and dog lovers alike.

Elimay Pain Care has turmeric, an herb that reduces inflammation and treats many other maladies. It may be helpful in treating pain caused by arthritis and other joint issues. Scientific research backs turmeric up as an effective dog pain medicine.

Boswellia is another ingredient found in Elimay Pain Care. This natural analgesic can decrease bone and muscle pain while treating inflammation that may lead to chronic pain.

One of the most unique and powerful ingredients in this supplement is D,L-Phenylalanine, also known as DLPA. This amino acid works in several ways. It keeps the body from destroying endorphins so your dog's body can naturally fight pain on its own. In addition, it's a natural analgesic that enhances your dog's pain killing hormones and prolongs their response.

Elimay Pain Care can be used for many different types of canine pain. Dogs with arthritis and other joint conditions often find relief with this treatment, as do dogs with back pain or limping issues.

This pain medicine for dogs also works as a joint support supplement. Even if your dog doesn't seem to have much or any pain from his arthritis, Pain Care can support his joints and prevent pain from developing.

Whether your dog is suffering from a chronic joint problem or a temporary ache, Pain Care is an effective solution that uses natural ingredients for your dog's health!

Some Pros and Cons of Pet Insurance - Can you Really Live Without it? By Deborah Shores, DVM

As pet owners, taking the best care of our dog is often our utmost priority, whether this be through enjoyable activities, top quality veterinarian care, or healthy nutrition. All these options ensure that we do our best to provide our dogs with healthy and full lives. In addition to quality care, purchasing a pet insurance policy can help assure your dog’s healthy future, as well as your own pocketbook. The cost of veterinarian care today is often exorbitant and many owners are not prepared to face sudden charges if emergencies arise. Luckily, pet insurance can help with this. 


About Pet Insurance

Pet insurance is a type of health insurance that helps to cover the costs of veterinary care and treatment if your dog becomes ill, is involved in an accident, or is stolen. There are a wide variety of insurance plans that offer a dozen different policies. Premium costs vary greatly and therefore can be easily fit into your budget.


Insurance Policy Coverage

Classic insurance policies are intended to cover unexpected events, however many insurance plans also cover basic veterinarian care, including hospitalization, treatment, medications, surgical procedures, as well as post-operation physical therapy. 


Basic routine preventative care, such as vaccines and spaying/neutering, is offered by many companies in addition to illness protection. Wellness coverage is one of the many choices available in most insurance policies — this includes preventative services, such as vaccines, check-ups, and blood tests, as well as medications, cancer treatment, and holistic/alternative therapies. 


Variations are always available. Some owners prefer policies that only offer coverage for catastrophes, while others wish for coverage of regular annual care. Some policies include options for dental care or alternative therapies, such as acupuncture. Naturally, the costs for these plans vary significantly depending on the variation. 


In addition, some health insurance policies may exclude older dogs or even particular breeds from their coverage. Pre-existing conditions are not normally covered, therefore making it important to purchase a health insurance policy while your dog is still young and healthy. Although policy costs typically increase yearly based on your dog’s age and other factors, many owners find it affordable to insure their pet for life. 


The premium cost for purebred dogs is often a bit higher than the cost for mixed breed dogs. Coverage for breed-related health problems are normally excluded in most cases, so be aware of this when purchasing a policy. 


Advantages of Health Insurance

Although it can be a bit stressful and confusing to choose an insurance policy for your dog, the advantages are monstrous. 


Perhaps the greatest advantage of an insurance policy is peace of mind if your dog becomes seriously ill. Unfortunately, due to mounting costs of veterinary care, many dogs with severe, expensive illnesses are euthanized due to their owner’s inability to afford care. Insurance can change this fact for the better by allowing your dog to receive care and treatment to allow him/her to live a happier, healthier life. 


In addition, the value of having an insurance policy is great. Surprisingly, the cost of insurance premiums often cost less than payment for long-term treatment or daily medication out-of-pocket. 


Disadvantages of Health Insurance

As with everything, there are pros and cons to canine health insurance. Although not necessarily a disadvantage, there is a large gamble with insurance policies as there is a chance you will never need to use it! 


Some companies will also severely limit the amount they will pay per year per illness or will only cover costs for a short period of time if the illness becomes chronic. 


Choosing a reputable company is exceedingly important. Some companies may advertise great bargains, but the fine print limits much of the available coverage. Finding a reputable company can be challenging — I recommend asking your veterinarian for a recommendation. 


Before purchasing any policy, it is extremely important to consult the fine print of a policy to learn what may or may not be covered and then decide if it the best option for your family. However, insuring your dog ultimately has more advantages than disadvantages and I would advise you to do some research to find the best policy for your pet. 


About Dr. Deborah Shores

Dr. Deborah Shores is a graduate of Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She has many years of experience working in animal hospitals and clinics from Virginia to South Carolina, treating mainly dogs and cats. She has a special interest in nutrition and holistic veterinary medicine and plans to pursue an acupuncture certificate at the Chi Institute in Florida. 

Why is Understanding Cell Health so Important for your Dog's Wellbeing. By Deborah Shores, DVM

Canine Cell HealthCells are the fundamental units of life; these small living organisms in your dog’s body are responsible for constant communication, responding to environmental changes, and reacting to signals from your dog. If your dog’s cells are compromised, the function of tissues and organs, which are created and made up of cells, can fail. The physical health of dogs, as well as humans, depends on the health of these trillions of cells that create the organs, tissues, and bones that support the body. Keeping your dog’s cells healthy is keeping your dog’s whole being healthy. 

Your dog’s body, as well as your own, is constantly replacing old cells with new ones. Providing material and energy, by what your dog is consuming, is how your dog’s body to able to create these new cells. There are some vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that make up proteins and other cell components, yet cannot be made in the body.

Cell Function

Cells are responsible for a variety of complex functions but there are two very basic processes that are necessary in maintaining health. These two functions are how nutrients enter the cells and how waste materials leave. Cell membranes are largely responsible for this action. 

The cell membrane/cell wall encapsulates the cell as a structural boundary that keeps the internal parts secure. It has a semi-permeable filter which allows nutrients to enter and wastes to be disposed of. The membranes are composed of non-water soluble fats. The main function of the fats in the cell membrane is to create shape and maintain stability. 

Proteins are also essential to your dog’s cells, helping with communication between cells. Proteins also help cells connect and attach to areas of the body — for example, liver cells stay in the liver by attaching to liver tissue through proteins in the cell membranes. With cancer cells, these proteins are often lacking or not working correctly, which allows the offending cells to move and spread around the body. 


Nutrition is extremely important to cellular health. The fats your dog consumes have an effect on his/her cells as the cell membranes are composed of fats. Omega-3 fatty acids, as found in fish and in Elimay Supplements, are necessary for cell structure. Feeding your dog appropriate levels of unsaturated fats, such as Omega-3s, is an easy way to support healthy cell membranes. 


Dogs that are fed a commercial diet are less likely to get the appropriate amounts of ‘good fats’ like omega-3s. If your dog is eating a commercial diet, supplementing with omegas is a good idea. Omega supplements should also be added to a nutrient-rich, homemade diet. For more information on feeding your dog a homemade diet, please refer to our previous article, on what foods to avoid for dogs.


Other essential fatty acids, are a group of fatty-acids that are required for maintenance and growth of tissues, as well as overall cell health. These essential nutrients are required, yet cannot be produced by the body. Therefore, they must be obtained from natural food sources. Essential fatty-acids include linoleic acid (omega 6) and linolenic acid (omega-3). Without the right quantity of linoleic acid, your dog may experience health problems such as skin issues, liver and kidney degeneration, heart problems, weakness, and arthritis. Essential fatty acids also reduce inflammation.(1) 


Natural sources of linoleic acid (Omega 6) include safflower, sunflower, chicken fat, hempseed, walnuts, evening primrose, almond oil, and borage oil. Linolenic acids (omega 3) are found most commonly in fish oil, as well as in sea buckthorn oil, flax oil, flax seeds, walnuts, soybeans, and wheat germ. 


Oxidative damage happens to all cells, every day. But what is oxidative damage and what can be done about it? Free-radicals cause oxidative damage to cells and are normal by-products of metabolism. They can also be produced by cells in response to stress, toxicity and pollution. Free-radicals become a major problem in the body; damaging cells and their function if too many accumulate. Antioxidants from the diet, such as Vitamin C, green tea extract, and trace elements are important in ‘neutralizing’ these free-radicals, keeping cells in tip-top shape. Important sources of antioxidants include fresh fruits and vegetables and Longevity supplements for dogs.   


Specific vitamins, such as vitamin E are also critical in cell membrane health. Vitamin E contains antioxidants that can protect both the fats and proteins in your dog’s membranes from damage. Natural sources of vitamin E include walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, and wheat germ oil. There are also vitamin E supplements available.

In short, healthy cells equal a healthy animal. By paying attention to what goes into your dog’s diet, you are directly benefiting your dog’s cells and overall health. 



Roudebush, Philip. Fatty Acid Supplementation: Does It Really Work?  ACVIM Proceedings. 2006.


About Dr. Deborah Shores

Dr. Deborah Shores is a graduate of Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She has many years of experience working in animal hospitals and clinics from Virginia to South Carolina, treating mainly dogs and cats. She has a special interest in nutrition and holistic veterinary medicine and plans to pursue an acupuncture certificate at the Chi Institute in Florida.

What is Canine Lymphoma and What are your Options? by Deborah Shores, DVM

What is it Canine Lymphoma?

Canine lymphoma describes a diverse group of cancers that originate from white blood cells (lymphocytes). Lymphocytes aid the body in protection against illness. Although lymphoma can affect almost any organ, it is most commonly found in organs that help the immune system, including the lymph nodes, spleen, and bone marrow.


What are the types of lymphoma?

Types of lymphoma include:

 Multicentric lymphoma (most common type, affects the lymph nodes)

 Cutaneous lymphoma (affects the skin)

 Alimentary or gastrointestinal lymphoma (affects the stomach and/or intestines)

 Mediastinal lymphoma (affects organs within the heart, lymph nodes, thymus gland)


What are the symptoms?

 Multicentric lymphoma: The main symptom of multicentric lymphoma is enlarged, exclaimed lymph nodes. These will feel firm to the touch, with a "rubber-like" texture. Usually they are of normal temperature. Lymph nodes are found under the jaw (mandibular lymph nodes) and behind the knee (popliteal lymph nodes).

 Cutaneous lymphoma: Your dog's skin will appear dry, flaky, itchy and inflamed. As the lymphoma progresses, the patches will become moist and ulcerated. Cutaneous lymphoma typically progresses quite slowly and can be misdiagnosed as a skin allergy or infection.

 Alimentary or gastrointestinal lymphoma: this cancer causes symptoms of vomiting and watery diarrhea. Diarrhea is usually dark in color and foul-smelling. Weight loss is also common.


How is it diagnosed?

There are multiple different types of illnesses that have similar symptoms so we recommend that you consult your veterinarian as soon as possible if you think your dog is ill. They will be able to perform the necessary tests to correctly diagnose your dog's condition. A new test was recently developed that uses a blood test to determine if the enlarged lymph nodes are cancerous.

A referral to a veterinary oncologist may be necessary for diagnosis.


How is it treated?

If your dog is diagnosed with lymphoma, it is generally treated with chemotherapy. Surgery and radiation therapy may also be recommended by your veterinary oncologist. There are also new treatments on the horizon for dogs with lymphoma. Recent research has shown great promise in the use of certain unique vaccines to treat lymphoma in dogs.1


How do I keep my dog healthy during treatment?



One of the most important factors is nutrition. Readily-available carbohydrates and sugars in your dog’s diet are quickly taken in by cancer cells; which can make the cancer grow faster. This process also leaves your dog struggling for energy for day-to-day activities and healing.2 Feeding a diet higher in fats and protein will provide more readily available energy to the dog and not to the cancer. Feeding your canine a species appropriate, raw or conventional, grain-free diet is upmost in strengthening your dog's immune system. Raw diets are not appropriate for every cancer patient, so make sure to talk to the veterinary oncologist before making a switch.


Many cancer patients will turn up their nose to a dog food they used to love. Home-cooking a “cancer diet” (high-protein, low-carbohydrate or grain-free) can stimulate your dog’s appetite and improve their well-being.2 Always consult with your dog’s oncologist and a veterinary nutritionist for balanced recipes.


Environmental factors

Environmental factors also have a big impact on cancer. Recent studies have shown that dogs regularly exposed to household and lawn chemicals greatly increased the risk of developing canine lymphoma.3


We recommend that you stop applying chemicals to your lawn -- or at least lawns that your dog is exposed to. If your dog has rolled or played in a pesticide-covered lawn, we suggest that you bathe your dog as soon as possible to rid him of pesticide residue.



It is recommended that while your dog is undergoing cancer treatment that you stop routine vaccinations.



Of course, there is always a genetic factor in your dog's health, despite all the measures taken to prevent and treat illness. Large breeds and purebred dogs are more prone to cancer. Lymphoma in particular is commonly found in Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Boxers.4


What are some alternative therapies?

It is important to talk to a local holistic veterinarian for holistic or complementary treatment options. Many treatments, such as traditional Chinese herbs, acupuncture, classical homeopathy and mushrooms can be used with chemotherapy but others cannot. Many times a custom-made holistic protocol with chemotherapy produces the best treatment results in treating lymphoma.


While your dog is undergoing chemotherapy, it is extremely important to support your dog's immune system in every way possible. There are many supplements available that are made specifically for cancer patients, such as Elimay's Chemo Detox and Onco Care, both designed to aid the immune system.


Overall, battling cancer takes a lot of resources from your canine. By offering support with supplements, herbs, and nutrition, you can help his body heal and ward off infections. Keeping his immune system as strong as possible and keeping him comfortable should be your ultimate goal.



1.     Sorenmo, K. et al., 2011. CD40-Activated B Cell Cancer Vaccine Improves Second Clinical Remission and Survival in Privately Owned Dogs with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. PLoS One, Vol. 6(8).

2.     Silver, R. 2013. Integrative Oncology: Blending the Best of Conventional with Evidence-Based and Supportive Complementary Therapies. Holistic Veterinary Medicine Club Symposium. Veterinary Information Network.

3.     Takashima-Uebelhoer, B, et al. 2012 January. Household Chemical Exposures and the Risk of Canine Malignant Lymphoma, A Model for Human non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Environ Res. Vol. 112(0):171-6.

4.     Dobson, J. 2013. Review Article: Breed-Predispositions to Cancer in Pedigree Dogs. Queen’s Veterinary School Hospital, Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK. p. 5, 11-12.




The Dangers of Flame Retardants by Dr. Deborah Shores

Chances are, you have some products in your home that are coated with flame retardants. One of the most common types of flame retardant chemical compound is polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs. These compounds are added to manufactured materials, such as plastics, textiles, surface finishes and coatings, in an effort to increase the temperature it takes to cause them to catch fire. Although a beneficial concept, there have been multiple studies on the health concerns of flame retardants in humans. If these chemicals are having adverse effects on us, it’s probable that your pet is also being ill-effected.



Items in your home that may contain PBDEs include computers, printers, copiers, scanners, TVs, video equipment, blow dryers, cell phones, kitchen appliances, fans, water heaters, carpet padding, and polyurethane foam products (upholstered furniture, pillows, mattresses). PBDEs began to leak from products during use and when the product begins to deteriorate. 


So, what are the effects of PBDEs in animals? A study performed in 2012 by researchers at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, indicated that flame retardant chemicals found in house dust are linked to thyroid disease in cats.(1)  Hyperthyroidism is the most common endocrine disease in cats, but was only discovered relatively recently (1979). Due to the rapid increase in cases, researchers and veterinarians are looking for possible causes. 


In 2007, researchers at Indiana University found significant amounts of flame retardants in the bloodstream of dogs.(2) PBDEs were found at levels 5 to 10 times higher in dogs than humans. 


PBDEs may also found in commercial dry dog food, research found. It is suspected that most of the PBDEs are located in the packaging and not in the actual contents however. It is known that types of fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, and whitefish, are contaminated with PBDEs from chemical build-up in the oceans, lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water.(3) Although the actual dog food may contain PBDEs, it appears that the packaging and processing poses the highest risk of contaminating your pet’s food with PBDEs.


Fortunately, the Environmental Working Group offers some tips to avoid exposing yourself and your pets to PBDEs. 


Be cautious with foam items. If you have any products with exposed or misshapen foam, replace it immediately. 

Consider purchasing a vacuum with HEPA filters — these filters help to catch small dust particles and are helpful in removing contaminants from your home. 

Be cautious when removing old carpet, as the padding may contain PBDEs.

Whenever purchasing a new product, ask the manufacturers what kind of fire retardants are used. If possible, avoid products with BFRs (brominated fire retardants) and choose less flammable fabrics, such as wool and cotton. 


For more information, refer to the Environmental Working Group’s website (www.ewg.org) and PBDE Guide. 


Any questions about PBDEs and their effect on your pets? Just ask me



Mensching, D., et al. "The feline thyroid gland: a model for endocrine disruption by polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)?." Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A 75.4 (2012): 201-212.

Venier, M., and Hites, R. "Flame retardants in the serum of pet dogs and in their food." Environmental Science & Technology. 45.10 (2011): 4602-4608.

Kakimoto, K., et al. “Detection of Dechlorane Plus and brominated flame retardants in marketed fish in Japan.” Chemosphere. October 2012; 89(4):416-9. 


Dr. Deborah Shores is a graduate of Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She has many years of experience working in animal hospitals and clinics from Virginia to South Carolina, treating mainly dogs and cats. She has a special interest in nutrition and holistic veterinary medicine and plans to pursue an acupuncture certificate at the Chi Institute in Florida. 



Pancreatitis in dogs is more common than you think. Here's how you can figure it out quickly....by Deborah Shores, DVM

Canine Pancreatitis

Dr. Deborah Shores


What is canine pancreatitis?

In short, pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is responsible for two specific functions. The first function produces enzymes that are released into your dog’s intestines for aid in digestion. The second function is responsible for the production of three hormones: insulin, which regulates blood sugar, glucagon, which raises blood sugar, and somatostatin, which stops the secretion of insulin, glucagon, and growth hormone. Both of these functions are critical to your dog’s health. 


When your dog’s pancreas is inflamed, the digestive enzymes are leaked into the tissue of the abdomen. Because the enzymes are not selective, they will digest any of your dog’s tissues they come in contact with, causing severe inflammation and pain. 


Pancreatitis occurs both acutely and chronically. Symptoms range from extremely mild to life-threatening. Repeated bouts of inflammation can scar your dog’s pancreas and cause permanent damage to the functions the pancreas is responsible for. Some dogs will lose weight since they are no longer able to fully digest and obtain all the nutrients from food. Your dog’s ability to regulate blood glucose levels may also fail, which can result in diabetes. 


What are the symptoms of canine pancreatitis?


Acute attacks of pancreatitis occur suddenly and the symptoms are often severe. 

  • Common symptoms include:
  • loss of appetite
  • depression and weakness
  • loss of energy
  • vomiting and diarrhea
  • pain in the abdomen region
  • fever

What is the cause of canine pancreatitis?


Many times, the cause of pancreatitis is unknown. Many veterinarians see an increase in pancreatitis cases around the holidays when dogs are fed more fats and sugars than optimal, putting added stress on the pancreas.


Diet also plays an important factor in pancreatitis. High carbohydrate-based diets are extremely demanding on your dog’s insulin levels, which, in turn, are demanding to your dog’s pancreas. Many processed foods are also lacking in natural enzymes, due to processing at high temperatures. Overweight dogs are also more prone to pancreas issues. 


Some breeds also have a genetic predisposition that makes them more prone to pancreatitis. Miniature Schnauzers, Yorkshire and Silky Terriers in particular suffer from this. 


To help prevent pancreatitis from occurring in your canine, make sure your dog is receiving enough exercise and fed a quality, balanced diet. Don’t give your dog too many table scraps — especially during the holiday season!


Treatment options for canine pancreatitis


Pancreatitis is often diagnosed with a cPLI (Canine Pancreatic Lipase Immunoreactivity) blood test. Sometimes an inflamed pancreas or pancreatic cysts can be identified on abdominal ultrasound. Elevations of enzymes that are associated with liver inflammation may also be noted on blood tests. This is due to the close proximity of the pancreas to the liver and bile duct.(1) 


For mild cases, food and drink may be withheld for a day or two, in conjunction with IV fluids and medication to stop vomiting and limit pain. In some cases, feeding as soon as nausea and vomiting are well controlled may be recommended. In severe cases of pancreatitis, many dogs require hospitalization for multiple days. Based on success with its use in humans with pancreatitis, hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be available at some referral centers.(2)


Proper nutritional management is important for dogs with pancreatitis. After an acute attack and with your veterinarian’s instruction, a bland, low-fat diet should be introduced. Experts think that even though fats may be limited for dogs with pancreatitis, omega-3 fatty acid  supplementation (DHA and EPA especially) can be beneficial and reduce high lipid levels in the blood.(3)  Unfortunately, pancreatitis often recurs, despite prevention. The addition of supplements into your dog’s diet should be discussed with your veterinarian as a part of an overall wellness or treatment plan.


If you have any questions about pancreatitis, feel free to ask me via our “ASK THE VET” feature.



Armstrong, P. 2011. Canine Pancreatitis: Diagnosis and Management. Western Veterinary Conference Proceedings. Veterinary Information Network. 

Crow, D. 2008. Oxygen Therapy. Atlantic Coast Veterinary Conference Proceedings. Veterinary Information Network.

Harris, W. 1999. Nonpharmacologic Treatment of Hypertriglyceridemia: Focus on Fish Oils. Clin Cardiol. Jun;22(6 Suppl):1140-3.



Dr. Deborah Shores is a graduate of the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She has many years of experience working in animal hospitals and clinics from Virginia to South Carolina, treating mainly dogs and cats. She has a special interest in nutrition and holistic veterinary medicine and plans to pursue an acupuncture certificate at the Chi Institute in Florida.  X
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