What is Insulinoma (Pancreatic Cancer)?

Recognized as one of the most important organs in the body, the pancreas works by aiding the digestion process of food intake. It also secretes insulin that plays a vital role in stabilizing the body’s blood sugar levels. Just like other organs, the pancreas is not an exemption from having different complications, most especially insulinoma.

Other than humans, insulinoma is also a life-threatening condition in dogs. Also known as pancreatic cancer, the pancreas becomes incapable of doing its normal functions when this condition occurs. As defined, insulinoma refers to a medical condition where the production of excess insulin in the body becomes inevitable. It is also best referred to as small or big tumors developing in the pancreas. When insulinoma emerges, the insulin levels in the body can rise drastically. This occurrence results in the decrease of the levels of blood glucose or, in medical terms, hypoglycemia.

When hypoglycemia happens, this is when other health complications emerge. If your dogs will be diagnosed with this condition, different medical disorders can happen to them. Note that insulinoma can be fatal to your pet dog. And if the condition is left untreated, it can lead to death.


The following includes the different signs and symptoms of insulinoma in dogs. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to be aware of these warnings and learn how you can immediately address this concern.

  • Sudden loss of consciousness
  • Episodes of seizures
  • Trembling
  • Unexplained weakness
  • Depression
  • Lethargy (lack of energy or enthusiasm)
  • Incoordination
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Fainting
  • Muscle tremors

Among all these symptoms, the most common for having insulinoma is the sudden loss of consciousness or when your dog unexpectedly collapses. When this occurs, seek immediate medical help.

Causes of Pancreatic Cancer in Dogs

Insulinoma is usually caused by the growth of cancerous cells in the pancreas. However, there is no deep explanation for why these cancer cells develop. Just like humans, insulinomas can appear in dogs without prior notice or warning. Because of this lapse, pet owners are often advised to be keen and careful with the food they provide to their pet dogs.


When you take your pet to the veterinarian, the first thing that he/she does is perform a physical exam on your dog. The veterinarian will also take note of the symptoms that your dog is showing. If a diagnostic test is necessary, although most veterinarians will require this, a blood sample will be extracted from your dog.

A blood sample is taken to monitor your dog’s blood sugar levels. The veterinarian will also likely request multiple blood samples to check for the dog’s insulin levels, CBC, and glucose concentration. Other tests may include CT (computed tomography), ultrasound, and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).

Treatment and Prevention

When insulinoma occurs, the first source of treatment given is glucose administration. When your dog suddenly collapses at home, giving them syrup as a temporary medical approach is recommended. While this approach is effective, it is still necessary to bring your dog to the veterinarian.

Some of the medications used in treating insulinoma in dogs are as follows:

One of these medications will be used depending on the severity of the condition. The veterinarian will also likely administer intravenous fluids or steroids that contain glucose, which your dog needs to consume.

In severe cases, surgery may be needed to remove the tumor from the pancreas. The medical condition hypoglycemia is likely to be resolved if the infectious part of the pancreas is taken out. Chemotherapy may also be recommended but is only performed when needed the most. Treat your dogs well and watch out for any signs or symptoms of different illnesses that they experience. Note that dogs are fragile, and it is your responsibility as an owner to take good care of them.