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Is Pedialyte Good for Dogs with Pancreatitis? Our Vet Explains

Written by: Dr. Lauren Demos DVM (Veterinarian)

Last Updated on April 10, 2024 by Dogster Team

dog drinking water from a metal bowl

Is Pedialyte Good for Dogs with Pancreatitis? Our Vet Explains


Dr. Lauren Demos  Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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When humans are sick, especially with gastrointestinal upset, one of the first things we often reach for is some Pedialyte to help keep us hydrated, and calm our nausea.

Pancreatitis is one type of gastrointestinal upset that can happen to any species with a pancreas, but it strikes dogs with a particular affinity. The pancreas is an organ with many important roles within the body—including aiding in the digestion of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. When inflammation occurs in the pancreas, the medical condition is termed pancreatitis.

Treatment in dogs is often multifactorial, but one important component is diet, which is generally aimed at being easy to digest. But what about liquids when dealing with canine pancreatitis? Can drinks, such as Pedialyte, also help settle GI upset? The answer is that it might be helpful, and small amounts likely won’t hurt. However, the use of Pedialyte should always be done on consultation with your vet, especially in cases of pancreatitis.

What is Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis can be a severe, painful, and debilitating disease for our pet dogs. The pancreas works to produce digestive enzymes, which aid in the breakdown of the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that we ingest. The pancreas also helps to control blood sugar levels by making hormones, such as insulin. Once inflammation in this organ occurs, the effects can be widespread if any of these functions are impacted. Pancreatitis in dogs can arise from a variety of different causes, some of which include infections, dietary indiscretion, or primary GI disease.

Once pancreatitis occurs, other parts of the body can also become involved in the disease. If a pup becomes nauseous, then vomiting may occur. They may also eat less if they are nauseous, or experience diarrhea, which can further add to issues like nutrition imbalances and deficiencies, as well as dehydration.

sick australian shepherd dog lying on grass
Image Credit: EvitaS, Pixabay

Why Liquids Are Important for Dogs with Pancreatitis?

Dehydration occurs in dogs when they lose more fluid than they intake. Fluid losses can primarily be through urination, defecation, and vomiting. For healthy dogs, by eating and drinking, the balance of fluid is maintained at appropriate levels; along with this, the correct balance of electrolytes is also critical to maintain for cellular and physiological functions to occur.

For short periods, the body can work to maintain fluid levels if any of the above go amiss. So, if a dog vomits once or twice, or has diarrhea for a day, the body might compensate by increasing the amount of water that is drank, or concentrating the urine to maintain fluid levels in the bloodstream. However, if things such as vomiting or diarrhea happen in tandem, or with greater frequency, they may overcome the ability of the body to compensate. Further, if a dog is nauseous and not wanting to eat or drink, this can hasten the development of the issue.

Once the fluid levels of the body drop too low, the condition then becomes dehydration. Because all of the above signs can be seen in dogs with pancreatitis, dehydration can be a real concern.

Border collie puppy drinking water from bowl in a park
Image Credit: ubaru, Shutterstock

What is Pedialyte? What Makes it Good Or Bad for Dogs with Pancreatitis?

Pedialyte is an over-the-counter drink available at many stores and pharmacies. It contains higher concentrations of electrolytes (predominantly sodium, potassium, and chloride) to help replenish what may be lost in people having poor appetites, vomiting, or diarrhea. Pedialyte also contains an easy-to-break-down sugar, which can be used as an energy source for the body. It is important to remember that Pedialyte is formulated for people, and not specifically for dogs.

People may use it in children that are vomiting or having diarrhea, to help replace lost fluids and electrolytes, and some adults use Pedialyte for similar reasons (or,  anecdotally, as a hangover remedy!). It comes in various flavors, and newer versions of the original are even formulated in slightly different ways.

It is important to remember that Pedialyte should only be given to your dog with instruction from your vet. There are instances where they might want you to withhold food or fluids for short periods, if they are concerned that eating or drinking will worsen GI upset. And, often, they will instead institute intravenous fluids in dogs that are in serious need of rehydration.

*Tip for keeping your pet safe: If your vet does instruct you to use Pedialyte, stick with their instructions in terms of frequency and volume. Some may simply want you to add some to your dog’s water, or sometimes, they may ask you to syringe some to your pup on a regular basis, if they seem to tolerate it.

What Are Some Signs My Dogs May Have Pancreatitis?

Possible signs that a dog may have pancreatitis include:
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite

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Pancreatitis can be a severely debilitating disease in dogs, compromising a variety of gastrointestinal signs. Dehydration can occur if vomiting and diarrhea develop, and can be worsened by nausea. Pedialyte might be helpful for some dogs that are not suffering more severe forms of pancreatitis, and are able to tolerate oral liquids. However, always confirm with your vet whether Pedialyte is an appropriate at-home therapy before offering it to your dog.

Featured Image Credit: 584652, Pixabay

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