Did you know that dogs can get pancreatitis too? Yes, like humans, they can also have damaged pancreas. If you happen to have a dog at home, knowing what this disease is will help you identify its early symptoms and avoid it ultimately.
Choosing your dog’s food is also crucial in avoiding or lessening the symptoms of pancreatitis. So, for all the dog lovers out there, below is a guide on what pancreatitis is and how you can manage it and a list of the best dog food that is safe for dogs with pancreatitis:
- What is Pancreatitis in Dogs?
- Risk Factors
- How to Know if Your Dog Has Pancreatitis
- How to Diagnose and Treat Pancreatitis in Dogs?
- How to Avoid Pancreatitis in Dogs?
- Top 5 Best Dog Food for Pancreatitis
- Final Thoughts
What is Pancreatitis in Dogs?
Just like humans, a dog also has a pancreas. A dog’s pancreas has the same function. This includes producing and secreting digestive enzymes and creating insulin.
The digestive enzymes are essential for digesting food. On the other hand, insulin helps maintain your dog’s blood sugar and metabolism.
However, if your dog has acute pancreatitis, this means that his pancreas is suddenly inflamed. When this happens, the pancreas won’t be able to operate optimally. The digestive enzymes will become active in the pancreas instead of in the small intestine, where it should normally happen.
When this occurs, this would cause swelling in the pancreas and damage on the surrounding organs as well. Plus, as the digestive enzymes are activated in the pancreas, it will actually start to digest itself, thus causing pain to your dog.
Acute pancreatitis in dogs, if left untreated, can lead to chronic pancreatitis and can be life-threatening. However, it can be tricky to identify it, especially during its early stages. That’s why if your gut tells you that there is something wrong with your dog, don’t settle for DIY treatments and actually visit your local vet as soon as possible.
The earlier it is detected, the higher chances of your dog surviving.
Acute pancreatitis does not happen without a reason. There are a lot of factors why this occurs. This includes:
Dogs that are above their suggested weight are more prone to getting acute pancreatitis. If your dog is quite chubby, then you need to cut back on his food consumption.
If your dog has endocrine diseases like hyperthyroidism, then he can possibly get acute pancreatitis, so be sure to consider this risk factor.
Portion control is not the only risk factor to consider, but the diet itself also plays an important role in a dog’s health. Diets that are high in fat will most likely lead to your dog having acute pancreatitis. Note that even if you don’t regularly serve your dog fatty foods, feeding him rich foods in one go can actually cause inflammation in the pancreas.
Toxins or Medications
There are also toxins and medications that can cause acute pancreatitis. Thus, before letting your dog take certain foods and medicines, your vet should give you the go signal to do so.
According to vets, they notice that there is an increase in acute pancreatitis in dogs during holidays. As this is the season for celebrating, some owners tend to feed their dogs their holiday meals as well. The sudden change in diet can drastically affect their pancreas.
Also, dogs that always get into garbage cans have a higher chance of getting pancreatitis – who knows what food and toxins they’re getting there. So, be vigilant when letting your dog out. Always keep the garbage lids close to prevent him from scavenging inside.
While acute pancreatitis can happen to any dog, there are certain breeds that are more prone to getting this disease.
This includes the cocker spaniel, miniature schnauzer, and miniature poodle. In addition, middle-age or older female dogs are likely to get acute pancreatitis.
How to Know if Your Dog Has Pancreatitis
Acute pancreatitis has a lot of symptoms. The most common ones include:
- Abdominal Pain
- Loss of Appetite
There are also other observable signs such as:
- Abnormal Posture or Arching Back
- Swollen Abdomen
If your dog shows one or two of these signs and only happens infrequently, you can monitor your dog to further assess his condition. However, if all of the signs are observed at once, go to your vet immediately.
How to Diagnose and Treat Pancreatitis in Dogs?
Before a treatment plan is given, your veterinarian will have to diagnose your dog. First, your vet will need your dog’s history, to provide all records that you have. Also, a physical exam and diagnostic tests will be needed. This may include:
- A chemistry test to assess your dog’s blood sugar and if he has liver, kidney, or pancreatic disease.
- An overall blood test to determine if your dog has any blood-related dysfunction or if he has anemia, infection, or inflammation.
- An electrolyte test to see if your dog has any electrolyte imbalance or if he’s dehydrated.
- Pancreatic disease tests to diagnose and rule out other diseases.
- Imaging tests to check the abdominal organs especially the pancreas for inflammation.
Once your dog is diagnosed with acute or chronic pancreatitis, a treatment plan will be given. The type of treatment will depend on the severity of your dog’s pancreatitis. Treatment may include:
- Antibiotics (if there is a suspected bacterial infection)
- Anti-vomiting medication or antiemetic
- Hospitalization (may include 24 hours monitoring in the intensive care unit)
- Intravenous fluids
- Nutritional support
- Pain medicine
- Other supplementary medication (depending on what’s needed and the severity of the symptoms)
Do note that some treatment procedures and diagnostic tests like CBC, chemistry procedures, and pancreatic-related tests may need to be taken regularly so that the vet can compare and monitor your dog’s status.
If you’re worrying that your dog has pancreatitis, immediately consult your vet. Your vet will tell you what’s the best procedure for your dog. Just make sure that you follow all of the instructions given to you, and all medication must be taken as directed by the vet.
In some cases, a low-fat diet may be required to lessen the chances of pancreatitis to reoccur. Lastly, even if your dog is already taking medication and seems to be getting well, it’s still ideal that you keep an eye on him.
How to Avoid Pancreatitis in Dogs?
We can never completely stop pancreatitis from happening to our dogs. However, we can drastically reduce the risk of them getting one if we follow these preventive measures:
Managing Your Dog’s Weight
It’s crucial that you keep your dog in a healthy weight. The bigger he gets, the higher his chances of getting pancreatitis. You can manage your dog’s weight by keeping a weighing scale at home, or you can also weigh him on your regular visit to the vet.
For those owners who have overweight dogs, it would be great if you’re going to establish an exercise routine for your dog. You can go for walks or run on the beach; anything active can already be a big help in keeping your dog at a healthy weight.
Avoiding Fatty Foods
The food is one of the biggest reasons why dogs get pancreatitis. Specifically, fatty foods are not encouraged. Thus, don’t feed them table scraps be it on holidays or on regular days.
Also, if you have visitors coming over, tell them not to feed your dog random foods. Sticking to a healthy diet is a must here, so ask your vet what ideal foods your dog should eat, or you can take a look at the best dog foods for pancreatitis below.
- Controlling Food Portions
No matter how healthy your dog’s diet is, if the portions are still big, then you and your dog will not benefit from this. That’s why it’s essential that you ask your vet what the ideal food portion for your dog is.
- Keeping an Eye on Your Dog Outside
As mentioned above, your dog may scavenge on garbage cans, so keep an eye on him. You can either tie him on a leash or supervise his playtime outside.
- Discussing the Medications Your Dog is Taking with Your Vet
Lastly, if your dog is on medication, ask your vet if the medication that your dog is taking can cause pancreatitis.
Top 5 Best Dog Food for Pancreatitis
As stated above, the food that you’re feeding to your dog is one of the biggest causes why pancreatitis happens. Luckily, there are a lot of dog food varieties (canned food, dry food, dehydrated food, raw food) that you can choose from.
Below are 5 of the best dog food that you can buy today:
Blue Buffalo Home-Style Recipe Chicken Dinner
This is a canned dog food that is recognized for its quality. It’s made specifically for dogs who have pancreatitis or are overweight as it has less crude fat compared to other products.
If you add oats or grains to this, it can significantly help with your dog’s bowel movement, thus improving his digestion. What’s more, it does not have any corn, soy, wheat, or chicken byproducts, thus eliminating the chances of an allergic reaction.
- 4% less crude fat.
- A great mix of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.
- Does not contain any corn, soy, wheat, and chicken byproducts that may cause allergic reactions.
- It’s not an economical choice for owners with larger dogs.
- Not have enough protein, especially for larger dogs.
California Natural Low Fat Rice and Lamb Meal
While this dog food is relatively new, it’s considered a good choice as it does not only have a simple formula (brown rice and lamb), but it also has sunflower oil in it, considerably healthier than other blending mixtures. This dog food is rich in protein and carbs, making it an excellent meal for dogs that have pancreatitis.
- It contains lamb, a not so common source of protein for dogs, so it’s considered a treat.
- It has a hypo-allergic formula that is simple, making it easy for digestion.
- Contains very little fat.
• It’s a new product on the market, so reviews of it are still a few.
• It’s expensive.
Wellness CORE Natural
For bigger dogs, this one is an economical choice. As it only has a little amount of crude oil, it’s ideal for dogs with pancreatitis, and because it has Beta-Carotene, Vitamin E, and Lactobacillus, it helps with your dog’s digestion, thus aiding your dog’s recovery from pancreatitis. It also uses lean chicken, salmon, and turkey, so it gives your dog more protein than fats.
- It’s affordable.
- It has little crude oil and full of vitamin E, Beta-Carotene, and Lactobacillus.
- A lot of protein.
- Some dogs may be sensitive to the proteins in this dog food.
- Some dogs may be also allergic to Lactobacillus.
Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Dog Food
This is a balanced and complete meal for dogs. It’s an ideal choice for those overweight dogs with pancreatitis as it only has a little crude oil in it. And because it contains a lot of dietary fiber and added enzymes, your dog’s digestion is improved, thus relieving pain.
- Balanced meal with high protein and fiber content.
- Very little oil.
- Budget-friendly choice.
- As this has vegetable content in it, some dogs may not like the taste of it.
- The high fiber content makes your dog poop more often.
Primal Freeze Dried Venison Dog Food
This is dog food comes in the form of nuggets. It’s made from hormone-free and pure venison meat, making it a great source of protein for your dogs. It also has no added preservatives, so it helps with your dog’s pancreatitis, and as it contains simple ingredients, your dog can easily digest this, promoting relief.
- Contains a lot of protein.
- Simple ingredients to boost digestion.
- Human-grade quality.
- It’s expensive, so it’s not ideal for everyday consumption.
- It expires quickly, and it can’t be re-frozen.
As our dogs are not only considered as pets but family members as well, it’s important that we take note of what they are eating. In this way, we can lessen the chances of them having pancreatitis. As the food is one of the most common reasons why this disease occurs, going for the right meals, such as the ones mentioned above, is a great step towards promoting the health and wellness of your furry friends.