This week I’m going to educate you on the pancreas. Now some of you might ask, what is a pancreas? And what does it do? Well, that is what I’m going to tell you today. The pancreas is a small structure located near the stomach and attached to the wall of the small intestine. It has two major functions. Producing hormones to aid in the maintenance of a proper blood sugar (glucose) level, secreting them directly into the bloodstream. It also produces important enzymes to aid in the digestion of protein and fats (lipids). These enzymes travel from the pancreas to the small intestine through a small tube called the pancreatic duct. The glucose-regulating hormones produced by the pancreas are insulin and glucagon. When starches and carbohydrates are eaten, they are broken down into the sugar glucose. The glucose is absorbed through the wall of the digestive tract and passes into the bloodstream. Insulin allows glucose to leave the bloodstream and enter the body’s tissues. Glucose can then be utilized as energy for the cells. When glucose levels are high, glucagon causes it to be stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. If not enough insulin is produced, diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes) can occur. The protein-digesting enzymes are trypsin and chymotrypsin. Fat digestion is aided by enzymes called lipases, also produced by the pancreas. Without these enzymes, dogs would not be able to break down important dietary components. When the pancreas does not produce adequate amounts of these enzymes the condition is called pancreatic insufficiency. So now that you know what a pancreas does, I hope you have more appreciation for it in the future.
To see what the pancreas looks like, Click Here to watch my video.