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Diets for Dogs With Pancreatitis

It can be extremely frightening when your dog is experiencing a medical ailment,—especially if you don’t know too much about their condition. Pancreatitis is a long, confusing term, and it is understandable if you are unsure of what’s wrong with your dog and how to help.

When our pets are ill, we often feel helpless because we do not know what we can do to help them. One of the best things that you can do for a dog that is facing illness is paying closer attention to their diet. 

When your dog has the right nutrients, they are more likely to recover from whatever it is that is making them sick. Sometimes, the bad diet that they had in the first place is what caused the illness. 

There is plenty to know about your pet’s diagnosis and how their diet can factor in, so your first step is gaining a thorough understanding of what pancreatitis is.

This guide contains everything you need to know about creating the perfect diet for a dog with pancreatitis. We will begin by giving you some background on pancreatitis itself, and then sharing what causes this condition to occur. 

Read on to learn more about how you can treat pancreatitis and how your dog’s diet can impact their condition.

What Is Pancreatitis?

The pancreas is an essential organ that is on the right side of the abdomen, adjacent to your dog’s stomach. The pancreas works to produce enzymes to assist your pup with food digestion and hormones. This includes insulin, which works to regulate blood sugar or glucose metabolism. The digestive enzymes get secreted into the small intestine, and then hormones enter the bloodstream. 

However, the pancreas can get swollen. When this occurs, the condition is referred to as pancreatitis. This occurs pretty frequently in dogs, so you are not alone if your pet has experienced this. There is not necessarily any age, sex, or breed that is predisposed, and pancreatitis can be either chronic or acute. Your vet will be able to tell what your dog is experiencing. 

Unfortunately, pancreatitis in dogs can be life-threatening, so responsible dog owners need to know the signs and symptoms if something is wrong with their pup. If you are even semi-concerned that your dog has pancreatitis, you need to urgently get your pet to the vet. 

Understanding Risks

While pancreatitis might seem like it occurs randomly, many causes and risk factors could potentially bring on pancreatitis for your dog. If you know the risk factors, you can make efforts to reduce that risk. 

If your dog has acute pancreatitis, it could take a more mild, edematous form, or one that’s more severe. Severe pancreatitis can take on a hemorrhagic form. The swelling allows digestive enzymes from the pancreas to spill into the abdominal cavity, leading to secondary damage to the liver, gallbladder, intestines, and bile ducts. 

There is a chance that pancreatitis will become chronic, which means that your dog may experience recurrent bouts of illness. You should talk to a vet about the possibility that pancreatitis may be a chronic condition if your dog has experienced this issue multiple times.

Treatment of Pancreatitis

You can treat pancreatitis in several ways. For one, you need to get your dog to a vet as soon as you think there is something wrong with their pancreas. Early intervention could prevent other complications that may be detrimental for the dog. 

IV is a popular option when your dog has severe pancreatitis, and a doctor will monitor the pet to ensure that the situation does not worsen. Your vet will likely administer the pet antiemetic medication to keep them from throwing up, which works to prevent dehydration. The vet might also try to rest your dog’s pancreas.

Long-term, there are steps you will have to take for your dog. You have to keep an eye on how much fat your dog ingests, and be careful to never feed them table scraps. You can also use a prescription diet. 

Your dog’s food should support their GI tract, and it is also wise to give your dog smaller, more frequent meals instead of a big meal. Finally, you can take preventive action and have your dog’s lipase and amylase levels checked by the vet regularly.

My Dog Has Pancreatitis. What Caused It?

You might be wondering what caused your dog to have pancreatitis in the first place. Diet makes up part of this answer. The exact reason pancreatitis occurs is unknown, but vets have a pretty good idea of what can trigger it. Understanding these triggers will help ensure that your dog doesn’t experience a chronic pancreatitis situation.

As mentioned earlier, oftentimes, pet owners feel that an occurrence of pancreatitis happens out of nowhere. However, there are several risk factors.  


The first risk factor involves diet. If your dog has a high-fat diet, they are at an increased risk of developing pancreatitis. High-fat diets are a major contributing factor, especially if your dog has a tremendous amount of fatty food in just one meal. If your dog routinely eats high-fat meals, you should be prepared for the possibility that they will experience issues with their pancreas. Monitor the fat that your pet is eating.

Another risk factor is dietary indiscretion. This is a fancy way of saying that your dog eats whatever they want, even if it is not dog food—or edible. Dogs that eat something not meant for them can experience pancreatitis. 

Pre-Existing Health Conditions

Some other medical conditions could lead to an increased risk of pancreatitis. Medications or toxins can contribute too, as well as severe, blunt trauma. 

There is plenty of discussion around whether dogs can be genetically predisposed to pancreatitis or not. In some instances, your dog’s breed might impact how likely they are to experience pancreatitis. Miniature schnauzers, for example, and other small terrier or toy breeds could have a higher risk.

What Are the Symptoms of Pancreatitis

Unfortunately, pancreatitis symptoms are often the same as other ailments, meaning you have to be diligent to notice the signs of pancreatitis. If you are ever concerned about your dog’s health, you should take them to the vet as soon as possible for peace of mind and ensure they do not have severe pancreatitis. 

Some signs that your dog has pancreatitis include:

  • Repetitive vomiting
  • A hunched back
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Discomfort 
  • Enlargement of the dog’s abdomen that makes the pet look bloated or uncomfortable
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Fever

How Your Dog’s Diet Can Impact Their Pancreatitis

As mentioned earlier, your dog’s impact can tremendously impact the likelihood that they’ll develop pancreatitis, and having the proper diet could reduce the odds that your dog has a recurring case. 

Vets suggest that dogs that are recovering from pancreatitis eat low-fat dog food that is highly digestible. Therefore, you should look for food that will offer your dog all of the nutrients they need in a digestible, yummy format. 

Choosing low-fat food will help promote pancreatic healing for your pet. In addition, it will give your dog the nutrients they need to thrive. If your dog has chronic pancreatitis, you will likely get advice from your vet to keep them on low-fat dog food to prevent a flare-up from occurring. 

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February 20, 2024
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