TV pet expert the Yorkshire Vet has issued a warning to all dog owners this summer who intend on enjoying a BBQ or two.

The star of the popular Channel 5 show, Peter Wright urges people to keep dogs away from BBQ meat as it’s one of the usual causes of pancreatitis and can be “life-threatening” to dogs.

Peter has experienced both forms of the illness many times in his years of veterinary practice and along with natural dog food brand Harrington’s, shares his advice for identifying symptoms and treating a dog suffering from pancreatitis.

What causes pancreatitis in dogs?

Vets commonly see dogs with a horrible condition called pancreatitis. There are two forms of the disease - the acute form, which can be life-threatening, and the chronic form. We see the chronic form far less commonly, and in most cases, the dogs that suffer from chronic pancreatitis appear slightly under the weather, are lethargic and vomit occasionally. Other than that, it isn’t particularly obvious they are poorly. 

“The pancreas produces digestive enzymes – amylase and lipase – which remain inactive in the pancreas until they leave the gland and enter the small intestine, where they play a key role in digesting dogs’ food. However, when a dog suffers from pancreatitis, the enzymes activate before leaving the pancreas and begin to digest the gland itself, causing very severe tummy pain. “

“Historically, pancreatitis was considered to occur from middle age onwards in dogs that are obese or have just eaten a large fatty meal. In other words, they had been cheeky and stolen some human food during BBQ or raided the rubbish bin in most cases! We now know that this isn't the case. In the medical world, we have a fancy word – idiopathic – which describes pancreatitis perfectly and means that we don’t often know what triggers it.

“What we do know, however, is that it is most commonly seen from middle age onwards in slightly overweight dogs - and it’s particularly common in the spaniel and the schnauzer.”

What are the symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs?

“Dogs suffering from acute pancreatitis tend to be severely ill, often vomiting profusely, which can, in many cases, contain blood too. Sufferers are usually visibly in pain, appearing miserable and depressed as a result.

“One of the key identifiable symptoms of pancreatitis is that we see dogs adopt what we call a ‘dog praying position’. They crouch down on their front legs and raise their back end off the ground, typical of pain in the front part of the tummy (where the pancreas sits).”

Peter recommends that if your dog is sick and vomiting, a trip to the vet is vital as the illness can progress quickly.

He adds: “Dogs become dehydrated, can go into shock, and in severe cases, can die. This is a condition that vets, therefore, take very seriously.”

What should you do to help your dog recover from pancreatitis?

“Once symptoms subside and they start to look a little brighter, food can be introduced again, but it needs to be specific, as dogs will have sensitive stomachs.

“They will need a carbohydrate that’s easy to digest (like rice) and a simple protein that’s very easy to break down, like white fish or chicken, with very little fat in the diet. Often, vets will guide pet parents so they can create their own meals for recovering dogs, but more commonly, vets will supply owners with the correct diet to aid ongoing recovery.”

All episodes of the Yorkshire Vet are available on Channel 5 and My5.