Dogs are susceptible to a number of different health issues. Some are more common than others. While most seasoned dog owners are familiar with things like hip dysplasia, diabetes, or heart problems, not many are familiar with pancreatitis.
As the name of this condition would suggest, pancreatitis affects the way your dog's pancreas operates. It's the most common disease that affects this organ and can have lifelong effects on your dog's overall health.
If your pup has been diagnosed with pancreatitis, it's imperative that you be proactive about what your dog puts into their body.
The condition is affected by food. A substandard kibble or dog treat can cause the pancreas to become inflamed, further agitating the disease. Vets typically recommend a low-fat diet that's natural and free of any ingredients that could potentially irritate the pancreas.
While there are prescription options out there, they typically come with a much higher price tag.
You can still provide your dog with relief and have control over other aspects of their diet. Many commercially-available dog foods fit the bill and are capable of meeting the unique needs of dogs with pancreatitis.
5 of the Best Dog Foods for Dogs with Pancreatitis
1. Eagle Pack Natural Dry Dog Food Pork, Chicken & Fish Reduced Fat
This low-fat formula from Eagle Pack may be able to help avoid the unwanted symptoms that come with pancreatitis. Its low-fat content of only 6 percent is ideal for dogs with this condition.
Even with less fat, the dry kibble offers plenty of protein and vitamins. It uses pork meal and chicken meal as protein sources. They make up approximately 26 percent of the recipe. All of the ingredients used are natural.
There are no artificial ingredients, unnecessary fillers, or meat byproducts. This can help to make sure that your dog's pancreas isn't agitated when they eat.
2. Annamaet Grain Free Lean Reduced Fat Formula Dog Food
This dry kibble is a popular choice among owners caring for a dog with pancreatitis because it's comprised of lean meats. Chicken meal is used as the main protein source.
It helps to contribute to the impressive 30 percent protein content. When it comes to fat, the kibble has a healthy amount of only 9 percent. It's completely grain-free and includes a collection of vegetables as a source of vitamins.
The recipe also contains prebiotics to improve overall digestive health. Omega fatty acids work to support your pup's immune system as well.
3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Healthy Weight Recipe
Blue Buffalo is a brand that's known for using high-quality ingredients that can support a canine's body. The healthy weight formula is no different.
It still contains great protein sources like chicken and chicken meal. However, the fat content is considerably lower to meet the needs of dogs with pancreatitis. It only has 9 percent. Of course, the brand's popular LifeSource Bits are also thrown in.
They include ingredients like blueberries, cranberries, and barley to give your precious pooch a healthy dose of vitamins and antioxidants.
4. Halo Holistic Wild Salmon & Whitefish Healthy Weight for Small Breeds
Made with all-natural ingredients that are free of potentially harmful GMOs, this kibble from Halo is a great option to help you manage canine pancreatitis. It has a very small ingredients list.
While most foods contain a lengthy list filled with confusing additives, Halo's is simple and easy to understand. The kibble has a relatively low fat content of 12 percent. When it comes to protein, the food is made up of approximately 27 percent.
Simple ingredients like Salmon, Whitefish, and host of fruits and vegetables ensure that your dog is getting the stuff they need without the unnecessary extras.
5. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Reduced Fat Turkey & Chicken Recipe Dry Dog Food
The reduced fat formula from Wellness Core has 25 percent less fat than their normal formula. In total, this recipe is made up of as little as 10 to 12 percent fat.
The fat that is included is quite healthy. It uses salmon oil, which contains beneficial omega fatty acids. As for protein, this recipe uses deboned turkey and turkey meal. The protein sources make up 33 percent of the food.
There are no grains or fillers that could potentially upset the pancreas. Instead, there's plenty of vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables that can promote healing.
Wet Canned Dog Food for Dogs with Pancreatitis
Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Weight Management Turkey & Rice Canned Dog Food
If you're looking for a softer option for your pup, consider this canned food from Purina Pro Plan. It's a simple recipe that contains morsels of meat that you can see. The pieces of protein are made out of turkey and liver.
Despite the fact that the food is swimming in delicious gravy, it's very low in fat. In total, the canned food is only made up of 2 percent fat. This is significantly lower than the recommended amount of 4 percent for canned foods.
What is Pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis is a disease that causes the pancreas to become inflamed. The pancreas is a crucial organ within your pup's body. Located near the liver, the pancreas serves two important functions.
It helps to create digestive enzymes that are sent to the intestines and works to create insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. The function of the digestive process is usually what causes inflammation.
Usually, the part of the pancreas that creates the digestive enzymes remains dormant until your dog has food to digest. It automatically begins to create those enzymes shortly after your dog eats to help the intestines do their job.
If your pup has pancreatitis, the enzymes are produced even if your dog doesn't eat. This causes the pancreas to swell up, resulting in pain and discomfort. While it can affect dogs of all ages, sizes, and breeds, the effects of the disease tend to have the most impact on smaller dogs.
Acute vs. Chronic
There are two different forms of pancreatitis. Both are uncomfortable and difficult to deal with. They both also result in the same symptoms. However, the difference is in how long they affect your pup.
Acute pancreatitis is typically a one-off issue. It comes about suddenly and can cause some serious issues that appear to come out of nowhere. The good thing about acute pancreatitis is that it doesn't normally cause any lasting effects.
If the condition is addressed quickly, there are no pathological changes that you need to worry about. Some dogs can experience acute pancreatitis and never suffer the same symptoms ever again during their life.
Chronic pancreatitis, on the other hand, is a continuing problem that changes your dog's body forever. There is no permanent cure for chronic pancreatitis, so it requires ongoing care.
When it comes to why this disease happens, there's no single root cause that's agreed upon by veterinary professionals. Many factors are considered. These include lifestyle, diet, metabolism, and more.
Symptoms for pancreatitis vary dramatically. In almost all cases, dogs suffering from the condition will experience serious abdominal pain. This results in noticeable behavioral changes.
Your dog may avoid eating and exhibit anorexic behavior for a couple of days. They may also start to howl with pain and request belly rubs in an attempt to get some type of comfort.
Because they will avoid food, you may also notice weight loss, extreme lethargy, and an overall change in their demeanor.
Physically, pancreatitis can cause digestive problems as well. The condition is often associated with vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Due to the inflammation of the pancreas, you may even notice that your dog's abdomen getting larger.
It's important to seek medical care as soon as possible. The problem with pancreatitis is that many of the symptoms aren't exclusive to the disease. To get an accurate diagnosis, your vet will need to perform various tests. These include a urinalysis, blood chemistry panel, and much more.
Pancreatitis needs to be addressed as soon as possible. It has the potential to be a fatal disease. Your dog's health can deteriorate fast and their prognosis will depend entirely on how fast they can get treated.
How is Pancreatitis Treated?
The treatment methods adopted by your vet will vary based on the results of their diagnostic tests. Fluid treatments are very common. Your vet may also prescribe anti-nausea and pain medication.
After the initial treatment, you'll need to change your dog's diet to help with the recovery process and avoid future inflammation issues.
What to Look for in Dog Foods for Dogs with Pancreatitis
As we mentioned earlier, you can find a suitable dog food for your pup without having to go the prescription route. By planning out your dog's diet, you can avoid future problems from occurring while still giving your dog all of the great proteins and vitamins they need.
Here are some things you need to look for when you're switching foods.
It's believed that dietary fat is one of the biggest stimuli that causes the pancreas to prematurely create digestive enzymes. Unfortunately, fat is very prevalent in dog food and treats. You need to find a dog food that has a fat percentage of around 9 percent. This applies to dry kibble.
If you feed your dog wet canned food, it should have no more than 4 percent. It's always recommended to get the lowest fat content as possible.
Many owners of dogs with pancreatitis go with foods that are designed for weight loss. They already have less fat in them than standard options. Low-fat diets will promote healing by putting less strain on the pancreas.
It's a common misconception that canine pancreatitis sufferers need less protein. This can actually do more harm than good. Protein is an essential nutrient that every dog needs to maintain their muscles and overall health.
By depriving your dog of protein, you're making it more difficult for their body to fight off the effects of the disease.
Because there's no concrete evidence about what causes pancreatitis, it's better to go with simple recipes that have identifiable ingredients. Unnecessary fillers and additives may agitate the pancreas further, causing inflammation to occur. Stick with simple ingredients that are easy to understand
One mistake that some owners make is to completely change their dog's diet. While it's important to stick with low-fat food options, your dog can continue to reap the benefits of other macronutrients.
They still need a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Don't use pancreatitis as an excuse to skimp on the good stuff.
Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes
During the recovery process, your dog's digestive tract will be all out of whack. It's going to need some time to balance out and start working like it normally does. Probiotics and beneficial enzymes can speed up the process. They can also put less stress on the pancreas over time.
What About Treats?
You should be keeping a watchful eye on everything your dog eats, not just their normal kibble. Treats are notorious for being very rich in fat. That added fat provides a boost of energy for dogs. However, it can prove to be detrimental for dogs with pancreatitis.
Like with dry kibble and canned food, the treats need to be very low in fat as to not irritate the pancreas. Here's a good treat option you may want to try out.
Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Gentle Snackers Hydrolyzed Dog Treats, 8-oz bag
From Purina Pro Plan is this low-fat snack. It only has 7.5 percent fat. It's specifically designed to be easy for your dog to digest. The main protein source, which makes up approximately 16 percent of the treat, is hydrolyzed soy.
The soy is partially broken down already into its amino acids. As a result, your dog's digestive system doesn't have to work as hard to process the treat. This reduces the strain put on the pancreas.
Pancreatitis, while serious, doesn't have to be a death sentence. Your dog will need your help and support to live a happy life. By modifying their diet to a low-fat alternative, you can avoid excessive stress on your dog's pancreas and avoid the symptoms of this life-altering disease.