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Pancreatitis In Dogs – Signs & Diet Management

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 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 types of pancreatitis: acute and chronic. An acute attack is the 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 minimize, 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.

  • Dogs with a high fat diet, who are fed a lot of table scraps or scavengers who eat anything they come across
  • Obesity – often related back to poor diet
  • Certain medications or toxins can do damage to the pancreas
  • Genetics – certain breeds like Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, mini Schnauzers, Poodles and Yorkies have a higher risk of developing pancreatitis and having it become a chronic condition

Your dogs diet plays an important role in allowing the pancreas to work as it should. When choosing a healthy diet for your dog there are many things to consider

  • is the daily diet made up of lean, healthy choice cut proteins?
  • what is the grams of fat per calorie of their pet food?
  • what kind of fats are included: the healthy unsaturated fats (the “omegas”) or is it all the unhealthy saturated ones?
  • is there enough of a balance of protein to fats and carbohydrates to ensure the pancreas is working optimally?

Think of the damage we can do to our bodies by eating fatty, processed fast foods all the time. The same goes for our pets!

Now, let’s talk about the signs of pancreatitis, so if symptoms do arise, you are prepared:

  • Any signs of abdominal pain – hunched back, appearing bloated or uncomfortable or going into the “downward dog” yoga position
  • Vomiting repeatedly throughout the day and ongoing
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Moaning or whining when you touch their underside/belly area

So, what’s next? You must get your pet to the vet’s office as quickly as possible. Pancreatitis is very difficult to identify but if it is suspected, 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. There is no cure for pancreatitis but the main focus will be on preventing recurring attacks. Listen to your vets guidelines, many will recommend you feed smaller, more frequent meals going forward.

                Based on available evidence, it is prudent to feed lower 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.

A suggested use of our low-fat diet line during illness and to help issues of fat intolerance is as follows*:

  1. Introduce our Tummy Tamer (chicken and rice only) in small servings throughout day during those first few days once they can start eating again. Add in our slow-cooked chicken bone broth to keep hydration levels up at all times and to replace lost moisture and nutrients.
  2. Slowly transition to one of our 2 ultra-low fat recipes: Kangaroo or Turkey Dinner, which contain only 20g of fat per 1000 calories (under 10% fat on a dry matter basis), which are ideal for acute attacks. Continue to feed one or both of these recipes for 2 to 3 weeks and check in with your veterinarian.
  3. Once the acute attack is under control, What’s Up, Doc? rabbit recipe can be added to the meal plan, which contains a maximum of 29g of fat per 1000 calories (still within the low fat guidelines) plus loads of healthy ingredients like tummy calming fresh ginger!

You can also check out our NEW Fisherman’s Best Friend recipe which is low in fat and can also be introduced as an additional option for many pets if fed as part of a rotation of meals.

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*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 consult@tomandsawyer.com.

References:

¹https://www.aaha.org/your-pet/pet-owner-education/ask-aaha/Pancreatitis-in-Pets/

2 https://todaysveterinarypractice.com/acvn-nutrition-notesto-feed-not-feedcontroversies-nutritional-management-pancreatitis/

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