In cases of acute pancreatitis, should you feed the patient or rest the pancreas?

acute pancreatitis
Date added: 24th April 2015

The following extract is taken from the information provided by Julia Hurley, Senior Nurse in Internal Medicine at Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists, in April’s Nurses Club webinar ‘Nursing Patients with Acute Pancreatitis’.

There is no specific cure for pancreatitis in dogs and cats, and treatment is purely supportive. It can range in severity from a mild subclinical presentation to a severe condition that requires intensive nursing, and staff must have the confidence to deal with this and the ability to recognise when things are changing.

In the past, it was thought that you would upset the pancreas more by feeding the patient. Studies now show that enteral nutrition is generally well tolerated and improves (or does not worsen) the course of pancreatitis. If animals are not vomiting, they should be fed by mouth. As much as possible, nurses should try to tempt patients to eat.

If patients are recumbent and vomiting there is a danger of aspiration pneumonia, and for this reason syringe feeding is not advised in these cases. Anti-emetics should be administered if vomiting, and appetite stimulants may be given to anorexic animals. Feeding tubes may be placed to support the patient until they are able to eat again. A low fat wet diet should be used that is diluted with water in order that it can be fed down the tube without causing a blockage. Patient feeding charts are also important in pancreatitis cases.

Join Nurses Club and watch the recording of this webinar to find out more about nursing patients with acute pancreatitis.