Serious digestive issues are more than just an upset stomach. Pancreatitis, for example, is a serious, painful, and potentially life-threatening condition. Unfortunately, Schnauzers are extremely prone to Pancreatitis. While the exact causes are still being researched, veterinarians know enough to give some sound recommendations. You’ll want to know this information as you raise your Schnauzer, keep his heath in check, and choose his foods.

Schnauzers, particularly Miniature Schnauzers, are prone to Pancreatitis because they have a tendency to suffer from hyperlipidaemia. This condition is simply a high level of fat particles (lipids) in the bloodstream. Managing weight gain and offering low-fat, no-grain diets may help.


While it sounds straightforward, we all know that high levels of fat lipids in the bloodstream is not good for anyone, even our Schnauzers. Sadly, research indicates that “around one third of Miniature Schnauzers have been shown to have an abnormally high blood triglyceride levels and are presumed to have idiopathic hyperlipidaemia.”


This creates a situation where Miniature Schnauzers are overwhelmingly prone to Pancreatitis. In fact, the research sited above also found that “Miniature Schnauzers are predisposed to Pancreatitis and have the highest prevalence of this disease (Lewis 2007, Mori et al 2010).”

What Exactly is Pancreatitis?

To understand what Pancreatitis is and why it is so painful and dangerous to your Schnauzer, we first need to understand the pancreas and its role in your Schnauzer’s body.


What is the Pancreas?

The pancreas is a tiny gland attached to the small intestine located just below your Schnauzer’s stomach.


As part of both the endocrine system and the digestive system, the pancreas has two essential roles:


Produce and store hormones (insulin and glucagon) to help maintain proper blood sugar levels.

Produce and store enzymes (trypsin and chymotrypsin) to help the body digest protein and fats.

When the pancreas is function normally, these processes ensure normal digestion and blood sugar levels.

When the pancreas becomes inflamed and is under attack, the result is Pancreatitis.

What is Pancreatitis?

In a healthy pancreas, digestive enzymes are activated only when they reach the small intestine.

However, if your Schnauzer has developed Pancreatitis (due to any of the situations we’ll describe below), the normally helpful enzymes are activated and release while they are still in the pancreas.

This is far too early in the digestive process and causes the pancreas to actually begin digesting itself.

Understandably, this results in extreme pain and inflammation. It can ultimately cause damage to the pancreas and its surrounding tissue and other organs.

If left untreated, Pancreatitis can lead to permanent organ damage or brain damage. Therefore, it’s important to see your veterinarian immediately to perform a comprehensive diagnosis and devise a treatment plan.

What Causes Pancreatitis in Schnauzers?

While the causes of Pancreatitis in Schnauzers and other dogs is not fully understood, the quality and content of your Schnauzer’s diet seems to be a top contributing factor.


With their shorter digestive tracks, dogs can readily handle food such as meats, bones, organs, vegetables, and fruit.


However, their digestive track is not designed to effectively handle starches (potatoes, sweet potatoes) and grains (corn, wheat, rice) . In fact, a diet high in these ingredients, as well as highly processed kibble, can cause enormous stress on the pancreas.

In addition, a high-fat diet over time or even one very high-fat meal can cause Pancreatitis.

As a result, the top two risk factors that contribute to Pancreatitis are:


Dietary indiscretion history. Your Schnauzer can eat anything including non-food items, but especially low-quality, high grain, highly processed kibble.

High-fat diets. A high-fat diet is one of the major causes of Pancreatitis, particularly for a Schnauzer who gets one large serving of fatty food in a single sitting. 


What Type of Schnauzer Diet Helps Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis may be life-threatening, and you should avoid changing your Schnauzer’s supplements or diet without first talking to your veterinarian.

Part of the standard treatment for Pancreatitis that your vet will recommend is a low-fat diet, where the fat content is not more than 18%. This diet will allow the pancreas to rest since the condition usually causes it to become overstimulated.


What are the Symptoms of Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis symptoms in Schnauzers can be severe or mild, but are more extreme in acute Pancreatitis cases.


Unfortunately, while the condition affects the digestive system and abdomen, it can also emulate the symptoms of other conditions as well.


For this reason, it’s important to obtain an official diagnosis from your veterinarian if you suspect that your Schnauzer is suffering from Pancreatitis.



The following are some of the most common symptoms you can see in Schnauzers with Pancreatitis:






Difficulty breathing

Fatigue and sluggishness


Hunched back

Increased heart rate


Loss of appetite

Mild or severe abdominal pain, especially after eating

Pain in the abdomen

Swollen abdomen


As I mentioned above, if Pancreatitis remains untreated, the enzymes produced by the Pancreas can damage organs and the surrounding tissue, leading to very severe symptoms and complications.


If you notice any of these symptoms, and you know that your Schnauzer has just consumed a fatty meal or has a history or eating highly processed, grain-filled kibble, or if he is overweight, please contact your veterinarian immediately.


What is the Cost to Treat Pancreatitis?

The total cost of treating Pancreatitis in your Schnauzer will involve the diagnosis of the condition and the treatment as well.

The general cost of diagnosing Pancreatitis can range anywhere between $250 and $700. However, this price may vary, especially when other diseases are ruled out or not.

For a Miniature Schnauzer with mild Pancreatitis, the treatment may cost you around $100, depending on your veterinarian and geographical location. For a Giant Schnauzer with severe Pancreatitis, the cost may rise to $400. The total treatment cost of most Pancreatitis cases will cost around $100 to $200. If the condition is very severe, then it might require hospitalization which may bring the total cost into the range of $1,000 and $3,000 or more.


How Long Does It Take to Recover from Pancreatitis?

Most mild and uncomplicated cases of Pancreatitis usually recover after two to three days of therapy and also have a good prognosis. Most severe cases often have a guarded prognosis and may require hospitalization for a week or longer. Some Schnauzers can develop a swelling in the pancreas, which might require a surgical procedure.


The prognosis for cases that require surgery is fairly guarded. This is because Schnauzers with severe Pancreatitis usually have regular acute episodes or some complicating factors like acidosis, hypocalcemia, hypothermia, and multiple or single-organ failure

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