Even if your dog is not showing symptoms of pancreatitis, it is a good idea to educate yourself and know what to look for in the event your pooch suffers an attack because time is of the essence!
Many dog owners will not notice the signs right away or confuse the symptoms with something less serious. Pancreatitis in dogs can become life-threatening when not dealt with quickly.
As per the American Animal Hospital Association, pancreatitis is a painful inflammation of the pancreas that can make pets extremely ill. The pancreas is an abdominal organ located just below the stomach that produces digestive enzymes to break down dietary fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.... pancreatitis can lead to dehydration, organ damage, diabetes, insufficient enzyme production, and, in severe cases, death.¹
There are two forms of pancreatitis: acute and chronic:
An acute attack is an actual episode that may be a one-off situation that doesn't become a long-term issue. Chronic pancreatitis cases are an ongoing issue that needs to be monitored and treated to avoid or at least minimizes, recurrences of acute pancreatitis attacks.
Dogs of any breed, sex or age can get pancreatitis but there are many factors that can trigger your pup to have an attack.
Here are a few of the bigger causes of pancreatitis in dogs:
- Dogs with a high-fat diet. This can come from their meals, too many table scraps, or scavengers who eat anything they come across!
- Obesity - often related back to poor diet
- Certain medications or toxins that can damage the pancreas
- Genetics - certain breeds like Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, miniature Schnauzers, Poodles and Yorkies have a higher risk of developing pancreatitis and having it become a chronic condition
- Diabetes mellitus
Your dog’s diet plays an important role in allowing the pancreas to work as it should. When choosing a suitable diet for your dog there are many things to consider:
- Is their daily diet made up of lean, choice-cut proteins?
- How many grams of fat per calories makes up their pet food?
- What kind of fats are included? The healthy, unsaturated fats (the "omegas"), or is it the unhealthy, saturated ones?
- Is the protein, fat, and carbohydrate content balanced to ensure the pancreas is working optimally?
Think of the damage we can do to our bodies by eating processed, fatty foods, such as fast food, all the time. The same goes for our pets!
Now, let's talk about the signs of pancreatitis in dogs, so if symptoms do arise, you are prepared:
- Any signs of abdominal pain - hunched back, appearing bloated, uncomfortable, or going into the "downward dog" yoga position
- Vomiting repeatedly throughout the day and ongoing
- Loss of appetite
- Moaning or whining when you touch their underside/belly area
So, what's next? In a suspected case of pancreatitis, you must get your pet to the vet's office as quickly as possible so they can diagnose pancreatitis in your dog. Pancreatitis is very difficult to identify but if it is suspected and clinical signs are present, moving quickly to an ultra-low-fat diet can turn things around to curtail too much pain and damage.
A raw diet may no longer work for your dog because their stomachs are now very sensitive and may not be able to handle/fight off the bacteria a raw diet will bring.
Other treatments your vet may recommend include fluid therapy with intravenous fluids for rehydration and to support the healing properties of your pup's body.
There is no cure for pancreatitis, and so the focus will be on preventing recurring attacks. Listen to your vet's guidelines, as they may recommend you feed smaller, more frequent meals going forward.
Based on available evidence, it is prudent to feed low-fat diets (less than 30 grams per 1000 kcal) in order to assess an individual dog’s response2
Tom&Sawyer has specifically designed a low-fat line of recipes that fit the low-fat criteria associated with pancreatitis. Our diets are highly bioavailable, high in moisture, and include inflammation-fighting Omega-3 fatty acids. Visit our menu page and select the "Low Fat" filter to see our low-fat recipes for dogs.
A suggested use of our low-fat diet line during illness and to help issues of fat intolerance is as follows*:
- Introduce our Tummy Tamer (chicken and rice only) in small servings throughout the day during those first few days once they can start eating again. Add in our slow-cooked chicken bone broth to always keep hydration levels up and to replace lost moisture and nutrients.
- Slowly transition to one of our 3 ultra-low-fat recipes: Kangaroo, Rosemary Venison, or Fisherman’s Best Friend, which contain only 20g of fat per 1000 calories (under 10% fat on a dry matter basis), which is ideal for acute attacks. Continue to feed one or a combination of these recipes for 2 to 3 weeks and check in with your veterinarian.
- Once the acute attack is under control, you can consider adding any of our low-fat meals to you pup’s meal plan, which contains a maximum of 25 g of fat per 1000 calories (still within the low-fat guidelines) plus loads of healthy ingredients like tummy calming fresh ginger and turmeric!
If you need help determining the best meal plan for your pet, connect with us to meet with our qualified animal nutritionist, Hannah, [BSc.H., MSc. Animal Nutrition].
*Always contact to your vet if you notice these symptoms and to discuss your choice of low-fat meal plan. Proper medicine and an educated diet plan can keep your dog living their fullest life, even after an attack. If you have any questions about our low-fat recipes or would like to talk to a nutrition team member more about our low-fat product line, please give us a call at 647.247.3212 ext. 1 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article by: Nikita Parsons & Hannah Godfrey, Animal Nutritionist BSc H | MSc Animal Nutrition