How to spot the signs of pancreatitis in dogs early, and the benefits of a holistic regimen including CBD for pancreatitis. Cannabinoids could help fight acute pancreatitis. The anti-inflammatory potential of cannabis has been an interesting topic to treat this disease.
CBD for Pancreatitis in Dogs
Pancreatitis in dogs is common, in fact, nearly 50 percent of dogs and cats with pancreatic issues will develop pancreatitis in their lifetime. When left untreated, this can lead to serious illness, pain, and can even be fatal. However, recognizing the signs of pancreatitis early and starting with a holistic regimen including CBD for pancreatitis in dogs can better your pet’s chances of living a long, healthy life.
Table of Contents
What is Pancreatitis in Dogs?
The pancreas is the organ responsible for producing important enzymes that allow the body to absorb fats and other nutrients from food, and the pancreas is important in the process of digestion. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas.
Normally, pancreatic enzymes are in an interactive state and travel to the small intestine, where they are activated to begin the digestion process. But, in cases of pancreatitis, the enzymes are released and activated prematurely and don’t reach their target. This results in the pancreas effectively digesting itself and surrounding organs. When the pancreas in inflamed, digestive enzymes can also escape into the abdominal cavity which causes damage to the pancreas, intestines, and other surrounding organs and tissue.
There are two types of pancreatitis in dogs: acute and chronic. Acute means that the symptoms present quickly, with no prior warning or build-up. Chronic means that the condition builds and worsens over a longer period of time. Both types can be extremely painful for your dog, but acute may be more noticeably painful because of the sudden onset. Within these two types, there are also two degrees of pancreatitis: mild and severe. Both acute and chronic pancreatitis can be mild or severe.
What Causes Pancreatitis in Dogs?
There are several causes of pancreatitis in dogs, including obesity, diabetes, hypothyroidism, hypocalcemia, bacterial or viral infections, gastric tract diseases, abdominal trauma, genetic disposition, toxins, prescription medications, scorpion stings, and ingestion of too many high-fat meals. Dogs who have epilepsy may also be at higher risk of pancreatitis. Small breeds like the miniature schnauzer, miniature poodle, and cocker spaniel are at higher risk of pancreatitis.
What are the Symptoms of Pancreatitis in Dogs?
The severity of symptoms depends on whether the case is mild or severe. These symptoms do not all have to be present, but may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Fatigue and sluggishness
- Mild to severe abdominal pain
- Increased heart rate
- Difficulty breathing
What Should I Do if My Dog Has Pancreatitis?
If you suspect that your dog has pancreatitis, you should take them to your holistic veterinarian right away. Because it is a very serious condition that can often be mistaken for a different issue, you should be sure to ask your veterinarian to test for pancreatitis in dogs.
Your veterinarian may run a variety of tests and may first check for gallstones and reflux. An x-ray, radiograph, ultrasound, and blood work will be able to test for elevated enzymes and trauma to the pancreas and surrounding organs. The vet may also test insulin levels because the pancreas can impact the production of insulin in the body.
Often a veterinarian will prescribe pain management options since there is no fast, easy way to fix the issue. They may want to do IV fluid therapy, medication to help prevent vomiting and dehydration, monitoring of fat intake, and anti-inflammatory medications. It should be noted that, as with any prescription medication, there may be dangerous side-effects. These side effects may throw the body even further out of balance, which is why so many pet parents are turning to holistic options to ease their pup’s pancreatic problems.
Can My Dog Die From Pancreatitis?
Mild cases of pancreatitis in dogs may just need a change of diet, however more severe cases of pancreatitis in dogs will need more aggressive treatment from your veterinarian. When left untreated, some cases of pancreatitis in dogs can be fatal. It can also cause severe organ damage and brain damage. So be sure to contact your holistic or integrative veterinarian right away if you suspect your dog has pancreatitis.
CBD for Pancreatitis in Dogs
Full spectrum hemp extract – known commonly as “CBD oil” – is a safe and effective way to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain associated with pancreatitis.
A study published in 2006 in Current Neuropharmacology stated that CBD has therapeutic benefits for both people and pets suffering from chronic pain and acute chronic pain episodes. They concluded that compounds found in cannabis reduce inflammation. In fact, the most abundant phytocannabinoid in cannabis, CBD has strong anti-inflammatory properties, while CBC, CBG, and THCV have also demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties.
Full spectrum hemp extract can also help relieve nausea and GI pain associated with pancreatitis. CBD is also helpful in regaining a pet’s appetite.
CBD Dosage for Pancreatitis in Dogs
In the case of CBD for pancreatitis in dogs, we recommend our EASE: CBD Oil for Dogs. Our EASE tincture is a 500 mg Full Spectrum Hemp Extract, formulated with turmeric and frankincense to specifically help with inflammatory issues. Based on research and our experience, we recommend starting with 9-18 mg (equal to 1-2 mL of our EASE tincture) daily. Because every dog reacts differently, you may find that your dog responds better to a higher or lower dosage. You should note that dogs cannot overdose on CBD, as it is safe even in extremely high doses.
For the fastest and most thorough absorption, lift the lip and apply dose directly onto the gums. If added to food, the medicine may not be as effective. It can take significantly longer (30-45 min.) to reach the bloodstream as it works its way through the gastrointestinal system.
Split the recommended daily dosage into smaller doses throughout the day (micro-dosing) for best absorption and to keep it in the bloodstream. It will stay in the bloodstream for about 6-8 hours, and peaks at 2 hours. Make sure to shake the bottle before each use and always keep away from heat.
Reducing the Risk of Pancreatitis in Dogs
While you can’t prevent pancreatitis, one of the most important things that can help reduce the risk of pancreatitis in dogs is a pet’s gut health. Inflammation of the pancreas disrupts normal functions, such as blood sugar levels and producing the digestive enzymes that are necessary for nutrient digestion and absorption. Poor quality diets, processed food high in carbohydrates, cooked fats, and drugs (especially steroids) contribute to the epidemic of chronic, recurring pancreatitis. Carbohydrates contribute to inflammation and a low-fat diet contributes to pancreatic and kidney stress.
We recommend changing your pet’s diet to raw or freeze-dried, to get their gut health in check. A species-appropriate, nutritionally balanced, raw food diet is preferred for pancreatitis in dogs. However, a raw diet does not have to be pre-packaged. You can feed your dog many of the foods that you already buy for yourself. You can learn more about how to feed raw by listening to my podcast, Your Natural Dog with Angela Ardolino.
Cannabinoids to relieve acute pancreatitis
The pancreas is an organ located behind the stomach and in front of the first and second lumbar vertebrae. It is made of lobules, small ducts come from each lobe and empty into a bigger duct, this pancreatic duct and the common bile duct join together and enter the duodenum (intestine). The pancreas produces both internal and external enzymes (proteins), which are necessary for digestion. Acute pancreatitis is a disease that consists of the sudden inflammation of the pancreas.
Causes of pancreatitis
The main causes of pancreatitis are the presence of gallstones trapped in the pancreatic ducts, or inflammation of the gallbladder. Either of these two reasons cause an obstruction of the common duct, which stop the digestive enzymes from going through the intestines.
The disease can be very dangerous. The most common symptoms include upper abdominal pain radiating to the back, difficulty to breath without any pulmonary cause, persistent nauseas and vomiting, which are rarely improvement by medication. High levels of sugar in blood or urine can also be found, as well as an increase in cells of the immune system. Treatment includes nothing that can be ingested. Rehydration, pain killers and nutritional support by intravenous. Surgical attention might be indicated in some cases.
Cannabis and acute pancreatitis
Inflammatory response in the pancreas is an important factor in the development of the disease. The anti-inflammatory potential of cannabis has been an interested topic since the endocannabinoid system was discovered in mammalian. However, there is also clinical evidence of cannabis inducing acute pancreatitis.
Benefits of cannabinoids in relieving acute pancreatitis
In 2013, a preclinical study showed the anti-inflammatory role of cannabidiol in mice with acute pancreatitis. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychotropic bioactive component of cannabis with therapeutic properties.
Results demonstrated CBD treatment diminished TNF-alfa and IL-6. Both are pro-inflammatory proteins secreted mostly by T cells, macrophages, neutrophils and endothelial cells; all of these cells express endocannabinoid receptors on their structures. The presence of these receptors allows cannabinoids such as CBD to act on them and thus ameliorating pain and controlling acute pancreatitis.
In 2017, a clinical study was conducted to analyse severity and outcomes of acute alcoholic pancreatitis in cannabis users. Patients were studied during the period from 2006 to 2015. Urine drug screen test for THC were performed to patients.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychotropic component of cannabis. In terms of results, the researchers observed that among THC-positive patients, their acute pancreatitis was much less severe, much less painful than that of patients who had not used cannabis. THC-positive patients were therefore less likely to be admitted to intensive care units. The study found Cannabidiol rises the levels of IL-10, an anti-inflammatory protein, while THC, did not make any changes. Whatever the type of cannabinoid, the timing and route of consumption, as well as alcohol intake were not measure in the study. Therefore, more studies are needed to characterize the effects of medical cannabinoids in acute pancreatitis patients.
In 2017, a systemic review of the literature about Cannabis-Induced Acute Pancreatitis (AP) was made by a research group. The results showed that cannabis is a possible risk factor for development of acute pancreatitis especially in patients under the age of 35. Recurrent AP was also reported (57.7%) in patients, related to cannabis use, and (50%) of patients regarding further AP episodes after cannabis stopping. However, lack of parameters of cannabis use in this study impaired the ability to exanimate dose-dependent in the population. The mechanism remains unknown, but in animal models the activation of CB1 receptors by anandamide, a natural endogenous activator ligand, produced worsening of AP severity at high doses.
Today, data about cannabinoids and acute pancreatitis is conflicting, researchers are calling for new studies to better understand the molecular mechanism implicated in this painful and dangerous condition.
Did you like the post? Give us some feedback! This post has been done based on existent research to the date of publication of the article. Due to the increase in studies based on medical cannabis, the information provided can vary over time and we’ll keep informing in further writings.
 Sommermeyer, L. (1935). Acute Pancreatitis. The American Journal of Nursing, 35(12), 1157.doi:10.2307/3412015
 Goyal H, Guerreso K, Smith B, Harper K, Patel S, Patel A, et al. Severity and outcomes of acute alcoholic pancreatitis in cannabis users. Transl Gastroenterol Hepatol 2017; 2:60
 Barkin, J. A., Nemeth, Z., Saluja, A. K., & Barkin, J. S. (2017). Cannabis-Induced Acute Pancreatitis. Pancreas, 46(8), 1035–1038.doi:10.1097/mpa.0000000000000873