The pancreas is a powerhouse of activity. It sits right along the intestine, just behind its attachment to the stomach, so it is mainly found in the upper right abdomen. The bile duct, which comes from the liver, runs right through the pancreas. One of the main functions of the pancreas is to produce digestive enzymes. When food enters the stomach, the pancreas is stimulated to release enzymes into the upper small intestine. You may remember that most digestion occurs in the small intestine, and the pancreatic enzymes are necessary for
this. Without these enzymes, nutrients are not available to the animal!
The pancreas also produces hormones that control blood sugar levels. The most well known of these is insulin. Every cell in our body needs glucose (sugar) in order to function. Insulin is a hormone that allows the glucose to enter the cells. As your pets ™ blood sugar rises, as it might after a meal. Insulin is secreted by the pancreas so that the glucose can enter the cells and be used. The cells in the brain obtained glucose a different way and thus need the glucose level in the blood to stay at a certain level in order to function. You can see that the pancreas has to produce enough insulin, but not too much in order for all the cells to be happy. Isn ™t the body an amazing thing?!
by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP