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Posted By: Ellen - Vet

Oscar suffers from pancreatitis

As our pets get older, their number of visits to the vets tends to increase a bit, as problems develop. Oscar is one lovely such patient. He is a Jack Russel Terrier, who is now 13 years old. We had been seeing him regularly, and managing his arthritis well with long term pain relief. However, one Friday it seemed that Oscar had developed a few other problems. He had stopped eating, was pretty miserable and appeared very uncomfortable in his tummy.

He was admitted for further tests and hospitalisation as he was so unwell. A blood sample was taken – this showed that he had pancreatitis. The pancreas is in the abdomen and produces enzymes, which help with digestion. Pancreatitis is when this organ becomes inflamed, and can be very painful. The blood tests also showed that he had a low number of red blood cells, so a sample of his blood was sent to a lab to find out why. We also took x-rays of his abdomen, and performed an ultrasound scan to see if there were any other problems – he had a mass in his spleen. These can often be cancerous so we took a sample from this and sent it to the lab for analysis.

Oscar was kept on fluids overnight and given strong pain relief while we waited for the results. Fortunately for Oscar, they showed it was an abscess in his spleen. This was probably caused by the large amount of inflammation in his abdomen. We started him on a course of antibiotics to help with this. The lab also performed a blood test to find out why he had such a low number of red blood cells. This found he had Immune Mediated Haemolytic Anaemia. This meant that his immune system was attacking his own cells instead of fighting off germs. He therefore needed a second course of treatment to prevent this happening, as well as treating his pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis can be a difficult condition to manage. The main focus of treatment is to provide pain relief, fluids to prevent dehydration and encourage food intake. In the long term, getting him onto a low fat diet can help to reduce the chance or frequency of the problem coming back. Oscar was not keen to eat, even after he had been with us for 4 days. In order to get some food and energy into him, we inserted a feeding tube. This went through a hole in his neck and into his stomach. We left this feeding tube in and gave him regular feeds for 5 days before he decided it was time to start eating again!

Over the next 2 days he continued to eat small amounts and got gradually brighter. Finally, after 3 weeks of being in hospital with us (and gaining a lot of fans here!), he was eating well enough to go home.

Oscar has been on a gradual recuperation process at home. Initially he would not take any of this medication and his owners had to give this through his feeding tube. With a lot of patience and TLC from his owners, Oscar’s appetite has gradually improved and he has got brighter and brighter. He has had to come in for frequent blood tests so we can see how his condition is progressing.   His appetite has now improved so much he’s started to put a bit too much weight on and we now have to stop him eating!

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