Dogs suffering from pancreatitis has an inflamed pancreas caused by the leakage of digestive enzymes into the pancreatic tissue.
To avoid over-stimulating the pancreas into production of digestive enzymes, dogs with chronic pancreatitis or those prone to this disease must be on a special diet.
This page looks at some natural, healthy dog food for pancreatitis, as well as some supplements that can help to support a dog’s pancreas and the digestive system.
Important Points to Remember
There are several things to remember when choosing dog food for pancreatitis:
The most important point to note if you have a dog with pancreatitis is to avoid feeding him fatty foods, including butter, margarine, and vegetable oils.
In other words, dog food for pancreatitis should be low in fat.
Do not feed any rich oily table scraps to a dog with pancreatitis. For dogs who are prone to this disease, even a single occasional high fat meal may cause pancreatitis.
Another benefit of a low-fat diet for pancreatitis in dogs is that it is effective in weight control.
Overweight dogs seem to have more severe bouts of pancreatitis when it occurs and to have recurrences more frequently, so keeping the dog’s weight down is essential.
When choosing a low-fat dog food, look for high-quality, low-fat, and highly-digestible protein sources such as chicken, turkey, no-fat cottage cheese, etc.
The second important point to remember is that, since the pancreas produces insulin, pancreatitis and diabetes are closely related. Dogs with diabetes are susceptible to pancreatitis, and pancreatitis itself can lead to diabetes.
So, for dogs with pancreatitis, sugar intake has to be controlled. Avoid food and snacks that contain a lot of sugar, such as honey.
Vegetables high in sugar should also be limited. Examples of high glycemic vegetables include pumpkin, fresh corn, parsnips.
High-Quality Protein & Highly-Digestible Carbohydrates
To reduce the work of the pancreas, choose sources of carbohydrates that are highly digestible, such as rice, potatoes, and oatmeal.
Kibbles bought at supermarkets usually contain low-quality protein and carbohydrate sources (lots of fillers that are hard to digest). They may also contain higher levels of sugar.
Also, such dog foods contain insufficient amounts of digestive enzymes. As a result, the dog’s pancreas will need to work more in order to produce and secrete digestive enzymes during mealtimes.
If your dog has pancreatitis, try to get him a high-quality, all-natural dog food. Here are some examples:
Homemade Dog Food for Pancreatitis
If you prefer to home cook for your dog with pancreatitis, make sure that the diet consists of half low-fat protein, and half starchy carbohydrates.
Low-fat proteins can be skinless chicken breast, turkey breast, or 98% lean ground beef. Buffalo, venison and rabbit are also low in fat. Some organ meats such as chicken heart and beef heart are also lower in fat.
Low-fat dairy products (e.g. low-fat plain yogurt, cottage cheese) are also good protein sources.
As for carbohydrates, use starchy ones (such as barley, oatmeal, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.) as they can provide the dog some calories.
A bit of leafy greens, broccoli, and other vegetables are fine to add to the diet as well.
Feeding should not be one big single meal a day. Instead, food and water should be fed in small quantities several times a day to avoid putting too much strain on the pancreas at one time.
Dog Food for Pancreatitis – Supplements
If your dog is recovering from pancreatitis, consider these supplements. They aid digestion and help to support and strengthen the pancreas.
Supplements containing digestive enzymes not only aid digestion, but also support the pancreas, thereby minimizing or preventing pancreatitis flare-ups.
Coconut oil is a good source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs is well tolerated by dogs suffering from pancreatitis as pancreatic enzymes are not needed to digest MCTs. Coconut oil can help provide some calories to the dog. It also helps the dog’s body absorb fat soluble vitamins.
Probiotics are the “friendly bacteria” that are essential for a healthy and balanced intestinal tract. The bacteria also aid digestion.
Can Dogs with Pancreatitis Have Treats?
Treats can be given to dogs with pancreatitis, but they should also be low in fat and sugar.
For example, chicken/turkey jerky is a good treat as it is high in animal protein and low in fat and sugar. Make sure that the jerky is free from artificial flavors and preservatives though.
You can also feed some pieces of apple, broccoli stalks, dried sweet potato slices to your dog.
Low-fat plain yogurt is another good treat for dogs with pancreatitis. Simply freeze some yogurt in an ice-cube tray and you’ll have some nice frozen yogurt for your dog!
To Sum Up
Key points to remember when feeding dogs with pancreatitis:
- The food and treats should be low in fat, low in sugar, and high in good-quality protein.
- Carbohydrates in the diet should be highly digestible.
- Supplements of probiotics, digestive enzymes, and coconut oil should be added to the dog’s diet.