Pancreatitis in Boston Terriers

It’s hard to look at a Boston face and not want to offer him a delicious treat. Boston Terriers are easy to love and easy to spoil. Unfortunately, sometimes you can spoil your dog too much with the wrong types of treats and it can be fatal. While most people are aware of toxic foods like chocolate that should never be offered to their pet, fewer realize the potential complications of fatty treats like the trimmings from your meat.

What is Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is a swelling of the pancreas. It can be acute or chronic. The pancreas fulfills a vital function in the body producing and regulating a variety of enzymes and hormones. Your Boston cannot live without a pancreas. An attack of pancreatitis can be brought on by a meal high in fats either provided by the owner or stolen by an intrepid Boston Terrier in search of a tasty treat. Dogs with diseases like Cushings, hypothyroidism, diabetes, or idiopathic hyperlipemia are more vulnerable to attacks as are dogs taking corticosteroids to treat other health issues.


In chronic cases, symptoms include weight loss, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. These are the symptoms of a mild acute attack as well as several other serious diseases too. Anytime your Boston has symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite or depression that last more than a day or two you should consult your veterinarian.

In an acute attack of pancreatitis, your dog will be in severe abdominal pain and may assume a prayer position in an attempt to alleviate the pain. They may also vomit. There are very few conditions that produce severe abdominal pain that aren’t life threatening. You should always seek immediate veterinary care for your Boston if they are showing signs of serious abdominal pain.

Left untreated, your Boston will go into shock within a few hours and sometimes less if the pancreas has been compromised over time by a chronic state of pancreatitis. Your vet will begin administering iv fluids to counteract the shock and work on getting your dog stabilized. They will likely spend several days in hospital on fluids, possibly antibiotics and cardiac drugs if an arrhythmia resulted from the shock. Narcotics may be given for pain relief and, if necessary, surgery may be performed to drain the pancreas. Your Boston will be fed nothing by mouth for several days to give the pancreas as complete a rest as possible.


Dogs that have experienced an attack of pancreatitis must be carefully monitored. Their blood serum lipid levels are of particular importance. If high, the Boston may need to lose weight and go on a low fat diet. If the pancreas sustained permanent damage during the attack, the dog may develop diabetes or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. These may require ongoing treatment with enzymes and hormones to support the organ. They may be more susceptible to having another attack as well. So, fatty foods that can trigger an acute attack should be avoided all together.

Alternative Treats

The best way to avoid an attack of pancreatitis is to carefully monitor the treats your pet gets. Although meat and fat scraps are tasty there are lots of other alternatives that your Boston will enjoy too. You can give the occasional bit of fat and meat but keep it in moderation and only as an occasional treat. Instead, offer your Boston things like fresh vegetables and fruit. Melon chunks, bits of peeled banana, baby carrots, and celery are all treats your dog that will enjoy that are low in fat and sugar. The benefits of maintaining a healthy weight on your Boston are multiple so choose how you spoil your Boston Terrier wisely.

Photo credit: Jill G/Flickr