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Pet Talk

December 4, 2019

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka tells about the reasons for pancreas swelling, sudden drooling & coughing in dogs

By Maneka Gandhi

My puppy was diagnosed with a swollen pancreas, is it normal? What could be the causes?

Pancreas swelling in puppies often occurs when the puppy over eats, or may sometimes occur due to some trauma. Common causes are: 

• A high-fat diet — This is a major cause of pancreatitis, especially for a dog who gets one large helping of fatty food in one sitting; • A history of dietary indiscretion (a medical term for saying your dog will basically eat anything); • Obesity; • Hypothyroidism (or other endocrine diseases); • Severe blunt trauma; • Diabetes mellitus.

• Certain medications, or other toxins — These include cholinesterase inhibitors, calcium, potassium bromide, estrogen, phenobarbital, l-asparaginase, salicylates, azathioprine, thiazide diuretics, and vinca alkaloids; • There may, in some cases, be a genetic predisposition.

The treatment of pancreatitis depends on the severity of the disease and may include:

• Hospitalisation at the veterinary clinic and, in more severe cases, 24 hour intensive care and monitoring; • Intravenous fluids; • Pain medicine; • Anti-vomiting medication (antiemetics); • Antibiotics, if a secondary bacterial infection is suspected; • Nutritional support; • Other medications, depending on your dog’s symptoms.

Is it normal for my dog to cough and what can be the reason?

A dog may be coughing because of:

Kennel cough. Kennel cough is the common name for a deep, honking, canine cough. Chances are, he was around another sick dog. Kennel cough is highly contagious, but it’s not a serious problem on its own. As long as your dog is eating well and acting like himself, he’ll probably feel better in a week or so. Your vet should make sure that he doesn’t need antibiotics, or cough suppressants.

Fungal infections. Yeast and other fungi can be picked up in dirt or through the air. There are prescription medications that can help.

Heartworms Mosquitoes spread this disease. Monthly medication, or an injection that lasts 6 months, can prevent it. Treatment is hard on your pet, and expensive.

Distemper. This virus spreads through the air. It’s serious but can be prevented with a vaccine.

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Heart Disease, Leaky valves and other problems, can weaken and thicken the heart muscle. This puts pressure on the lungs and airways. Medication, along with the right diet and exercise, can bring relief.

Congestive heart failure. Fluid in the lungs can cause coughing.

Lung problems. Sometimes dogs get bronchitis or pneumonia. They also may suck in dirt, grass seeds, or food, which can lead to an infection of the airways. Antibiotics can help. In rare cases, lung cancer is the diagnosis. Your vet will help you decide if medication or surgery is the best course.

The outer ear of my dog has enlarged. What should I do?

This can be due to Aural Haematoma. “Aural” simply means ear, while “haematoma” means “blood has accumulated inside the ear.” If you look carefully at your dog’s ears, you will likely see that the actual swollen part is the underlying surface of the pinna. Upon palpation, most dogs will display a pain signal. When a dog subjects its ear lobe to excessive scratching and shaking, tiny blood vessels rupture, causing the accumulated blood to fill up the space in the ear flap between the cartilage and skin. The ear flap, therefore, swells under pressure, causing the typical “ballooned experience” many owners may witness.

An aural hematoma must not need confused with an ear abscess. The basic way to differentiate the two is by seeing the vet and having the vet do a needle aspiration.

In an aural hematoma, the needle will aspirate a bloody fluid, in an abscess the aspirated substance will be of a yellowish, green tint, suggesting pus.

The following are symptoms of an aural hematoma in dogs: • A swollen pinna (ear flap); • Pain upon palpation; • Head held to one side; • Pawing at the ear; • A history of head shaking; • A history of ear scratching.

Underlying causes of ear scratching in dogs may be various, but here are a few to be looked into:

• Ear mites; • Bacterial infection; • Yeast infection; • Foreign bodies; • Allergies; • Wax built up.


Treatment of the hematoma would consist of a surgical procedure, where the blood is drained out. Often, this is done with the dog conscious, using a cannula, or needle and syringe. In a more invasive procedure, the pinna will be cut open allowing the fluid to drain out, and then the area would be sutured back. The dog is often prescribed, antibiotics to treat/prevent infections, and steroids to prevent any further swelling. 

My dog is constantly salivating. What can be the reason?

In the summertime, sudden drooling may be a sign of heatstroke. If temperatures are high, and your dog is panting and appears fatigued, get her into the shade,               or air conditioning, immediately, as well as offer her a cool drink of water.

While some non-droolers will salivate more when nervous — like when they’re at the vet — excess drool, in general, isn’t indicative of a health problem, unless it’s unusual for your dog.

It could be a sign of a neurological condition, in which the nerves in the face don’t work, or a blockage in the oesophagus caused by something like a bone.

Another possible cause: Mouth irritation. If your pup got into something unsafe, such as chewing an electrical wire, or a poisonous plant, her mouth could be irritated from electrical or chemical burns. Contact your vet if the drooling persists, or if she repeatedly paws at her mouth.

Why is my rabbit not eating?

Rabbits don’t eat when they’re feeling sick. This can be very dangerous for them — even worse if they stop eating and drinking!

One of the most common reasons a bunny will stop eating is an intestinal blockage; he may have some hair obstructing his digestive path (GI stasis) which can result in trouble passing whatever food he has already eaten.

Please do give your vet a call. A rabbit, who won’t eat or drink, can die quickly, 

The vet can palpate his stomach to feel for a blockage, administer hydration and Reglan (a faeces mover) if necessary. In the meantime, try to feed your rabbit things that he loves.


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