A crucial organ, the pancreas is located next to the stomach on the right side of the belly. The pancreas makes hormones like insulin, which control blood sugar or glucose metabolism, as well as enzymes to aid in food digestion. The hormones enter the bloodstream, and the digestive enzymes are secreted into the small intestine.
Pancreatitis is the medical term for the inflammation of the pancreas. In dogs, pancreatitis is a prevalent condition. Age, sex, or breed predisposition don’t exist. You can have acute or chronic pancreatitis.
Acute pancreatitis can manifest in two different ways: mildly edematous or more severely hemorrhagic.
Both a mild, edematous type and a more serious, hemorrhagic form of acute pancreatitis are possible. Due to the accompanying inflammation, the pancreas’ digesting enzymes might leak into the abdominal cavity and cause additional harm to the liver, bile ducts, gall bladder, and intestines. The condition is known as chronic or relapsing pancreatitis when it affects a small percentage of dogs who recover from an acute episode of pancreatitis.
What causes pancreatitis?
Digestive enzymes are turned on in pancreatitis before they get to the small intestine.
The pancreatic duct transports inactive pancreatic enzymes to the duodenum, a section of the small intestine, where they are normally formed. They are activated to start digestion when they get to the small intestine. These enzymes normally activate later in the small intestine, but with pancreatitis, they do so earlier in the pancreas. Imagine this as a time-release capsule that abruptly bursts before it reaches its destination; in this instance, the pancreatic enzymes begin to breakdown the substance earlier than they should. The pancreas itself is subsequently digested as a result. The severity of the condition will depend on how many enzymes were prematurely triggered, therefore the clinical indications of pancreatitis are frequently vary.
“…a fatty meal or the injection of corticosteroids may in certain situations cause pancreatitis.”
Although the precise origin of pancreatitis is unknown, it may occasionally be brought on by a fatty meal or the administration of corticosteroids. However, it frequently seems to happen on its own.
What are the clinical signs of pancreatitis?
The most typical clinical symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, fever, tiredness, and decreased appetite. Dogs may adopt a “prayer pose” during an assault, with their back ends up and their front legs and heads dropped to the ground. Acute shock, severe depression, and even death could happen if the attack is severe.
How is pancreatitis diagnosed?
Laboratory testing typically show an elevated white blood cell count, however in addition to pancreatitis, several other disorders can also cause an elevated white blood cell count. Although elevated blood levels of pancreatic enzymes are likely the best indicator of pancreatic illness, some dogs with pancreatitis will have normal enzyme levels. A novel pancreatic test that can effectively identify pancreatitis has recently become accessible, even if pancreatic enzymes are normal (see handout “Pancreatitis in Dogs – Pancreas-Specific Lipase”). Inflammation-related alterations may be visible on radiographs, particularly in cases of acute hemorrhagic inflammation.
Pancreatic inflammation or localized peritonitis brought on by this illness is frequently diagnosed by ultrasound tests. Unfortunately, several of these tests will miss some dogs with pancreatitis, especially dogs with chronic pancreatitis.
“In some circumstances, the diagnosis of pancreatitis may be provisional or presumptive.”
As a result, the diagnosis of pancreatitis may occasionally be based purely on clinical signs and medical history, and may even be preliminary or presumptive.
How is pancreatitis treated?
Early detection and rapid medical treatment are essential for the effective management of pancreatitis. When a patient has mild, edematous pancreatitis, supportive care is used to “relax” the pancreas and let the body recover itself. Vomiting dogs should be starved until the vomiting stops. If necessary, patients can go a few days without eating. When recovering, dogs who are not vomiting may be fed a low-fat, highly digestible diet.
In order to keep the body’s fluid and electrolyte balance in the normal range, analgesics will be administered to reduce the severe pain. Anti-inflammatory drugs or medications to stop vomiting or diarrhea are frequently needed in addition. If a concomitant infection is thought to be present, antibiotics will be given.
The majority of dogs with pancreatitis are kept in hospitals for two to four days while receiving intravenous fluids, medicines, and a slow food reintroduction. When a dog has severe hemorrhagic pancreatitis or is exhibiting symptoms of systemic shock, intensive care is provided with high intravenous fluid doses and drugs to treat shock.
What is the prognosis of pancreatitis?
The prognosis is based on the disease severity at diagnosis and how well the patient responded to initial treatment. The prognosis for dogs who exhibit shock and depression is quite uncertain. With aggressive treatment, most mild types of pancreatitis have a bright outlook. Without treatment, dogs may develop the hemorrhagic form and experience severe effects, including unexpected death.
Will there be any long-term problems?
The majority of dogs bounce back without any lasting effects. However, one or more of the following issues could manifest with severe or frequent pancreatitis episodes:
- An inability to properly digest food may result from the severe loss of cells that make digestive enzymes. Treatment for this condition, known as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), involves taking an enzyme replacement powder every day.
- Diabetes mellitus can happen if a sizable portion of insulin-producing cells are lost.
- Rarely, pancreatitis may result in uncomfortable adhesions between the abdominal organs.
The secondary disorders mentioned above are more likely to appear in canines with chronic pancreatitis. The management of these problems is a crucial component of successful treatment.
What foods cause canine pancreatitis?
After a dog consumes a fatty food, such as pork, steak, or any other human foods, acute pancreatitis may develop. Dogs who eat from the trash can suffer pancreatitis. Other factors, such as specific drugs and some viral or bacterial infections, can also contribute to pancreatitis.
Do dogs develop pancreatitis suddenly?
Both an acute (sudden onset) and chronic (long-term) form of pancreatitis may manifest. Severe lethargy is one of the more severe clinical indicators of acute pancreatitis in dogs. abdominal discomfort
What kind of food should a dog with pancreatitis eat?
Early identification and timely medical attention are frequently responsible for the successful management of pancreatitis in canine patients.
Although there are many aspects to take into account when developing a treatment plan for pancreatitis patients, diet and nutrition may be among the most crucial ones.
This article will cover nutritional support for canine patients with pancreatitis receiving therapy at a veterinarian clinic. A general description of the disease, the patient’s nutritional needs, a comparison of homemade and commercial dog foods, including the ingredients in the foods and costs, potential negative diet-related reactions, and advice given to owners after their pet is discharged from the hospital, are among the topics that will be covered.
WHAT IS PANCREATITIS:
The pancreas is inflamed by pancreatitis. Exocrine tissue, which is in charge of creating and storing digestive enzymes like amylase and lipase, and endocrine tissue, which is where hormones like insulin and glucagon are created, make up the two types of tissues that make up the pancreas.
The exocrine tissue produces digestive enzymes, which are then kept in an inactive state until being released into the small intestine, where they activate. The pancreas starts to digest itself when the mechanisms that keep these enzymes dormant fail, and this happens while they are still in the exocrine tissue. These enzymes may reach the bloodstream in extreme circumstances.
The onset of pancreatitis can be influenced by a variety of variables. Infections, certain drugs, hypothyroidism, diabetes, Cushing’s disease, metabolic disorders, obesity, trauma, and shock are among them. Acute pancreatitis is the term for pancreatitis that develops suddenly, while chronic pancreatitis is the term for pancreatitis that develops gradually over time. Both types are severe and potentially fatal. Many dogs who have high fat diet-related acute pancreatitis appear in our veterinary clinic. A famous instance is the surge of pancreatitis cases that typically follow the Christmas holiday. Owners have overloaded their poor dog’s system with fat by feeding it snacks from “lunch,” leftover ham, etc.
Patients with pancreatitis may display a variety of clinical symptoms, including as ascites, peritonitis, recurrent vomiting, anorexia, shock, dehydration, and cranial abdominal discomfort (which can be demonstrated by assuming a “praying” or “bowing” position).
Acute pancreatitis in dogs is often managed as an inpatient using IV fluid treatment and painkillers to prevent vomiting and nausea. Chronic pancreatitis patients typically have less illness and may be put on a particular low-fat diet for the rest of their lives. Patients with chronic pancreatitis may go through an acute flare-up that necessitates hospitalization.
Every aspect of a dog’s existence is directly impacted by the nutritional value of their diet. The nutritional needs of a patient depend on a number of variables. They consist of the patient’s life stage, their health status, and their bodily condition score. The procedure for satisfying nutritional needs is complicated for patients with pancreatitis, especially those who are admitted to the hospital with acute pancreatitis, by the necessity to lessen pancreatic secretions and give the pancreas time to heal. Patients receive painkillers, IV fluids, anti-emetics, and small portions of bland, low-fat meals. The most crucial aspect of diet is that the meal is low in fat, and during the first few days, they are only given around 25% of what they would typically eat.
When a patient is admitted to the hospital, their weight is taken. Because medication dosages and IV fluid rates are depending on a patient’s weight, this specific measurement is crucial. The Body Score, however, is an essential marker of healthy weight in addition to a measurement in kilos. On a scale from 1 to 9, the body score is calculated. Body score charts display illustrations of five distinct body types, with scores ranging from 1/9 (severely underweight) to 9/9 (obesity).
In general, a patient’s body condition score will assist establish whether or not they need less or more calories (and other nutrients like protein) in their diet (ie if they are severely underweight or severely overweight). Dogs who are overweight are more likely to get pancreatitis. The vet could advise a diet that restricts calories in addition to picking the right food to manage pancreatitis. This will aid in reducing excessive weight, which might make the condition worse.
The nutritional requirements of a dog fluctuate as it ages. The energy needs of young puppies are almost four times those of adult dogs, and they will also benefit from more protein because it helps the body create new tissues.
The nutritional requirements shift around age 2 (or even 1 year in the case of extremely small dogs), and it is advised that these dogs be fed a high-quality diet with:
- High-grade, animal-based protein for maintaining muscle
- Fiber for a healthy gastrointestinal system
- vitamins and minerals that the immune system needs.
- Fish oils rich in vitamins are good for your skin, coat, and overall wellbeing.
- Energy-boosting grains (taken from pet Nutrition Life Stages, VPI)
Due to their reduced activity levels, senior dogs (those who are in the last third of their life expectancy) need a diet low in calories, protein, and fat. This is crucial to avoid obesity, which is a typical issue in elderly dogs. In order to improve digestive health, the food for older dogs should also have more fiber. Given that senior dogs are more likely to experience health issues, there are numerous specialist meals that can treat a variety of ailments.
Dogs who are middle-aged or older, overweight, or who have a history of endocrinopathies or gastrointestinal disorders are thought to be more likely to develop pancreatitis. A wide range of health issues can be controlled using a variety of meals. For instance, the Hill’s brand sells prescription diets like the z/d, u/d, t/d, and w/d to help with weight management, bladder health, oral health, and adverse food reactions (respectively).
However, this study will only discuss the foods that are suitable for those with pancreatitis. In order to reduce the activation of the enzymes that lead to inflammation, these patients are fed.
Small portions of low-fat, highly digestible (often bland) foods may be provided when the dog starts to recover from the pancreatitis attack. In some situations, a liquid food might be given as the first oral food.
Dogs can be put on a low-fat, high-fiber diet once the patient is able to tolerate the liquid food. “Moderate fiber diets with moderate fat contents (1015%) and dry matter contents (1015%) can be provided.” In addition to promoting digestion, carbohydrates have a negligible impact on the hormones that activate pancreatic enzymes. Rice is a frequent component of pancreatic patients’ commercial and home-made diets. For people with pancreatitis, boiled chicken, low-fat meat, egg whites, yogurt, barley, and cooked vegetables are also considered safe foods.
Feeding a pet with pancreatitis offers owners a variety of food options. Commercial foods come in a variety of price points, including low-cost supermarket goods, high-end meals, and prescription foods. Owners can also decide to prepare their own food at home. Homemade foods can be classified as cooked food or as raw food (i.e., the BARF diet).
There is a definite disparity in the content of foods throughout the large variety of what is available for purchase, despite the claims made by many producers that their product is complete and balanced. Because the food in premium brands is of a better caliber, it will be more nutrient-dense.
Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d or Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Low Fat are two prescription diets that veterinarians could expressly suggest for dogs with gastrointestinal issues including pancreatitis. Food for pancreatitis sufferers is typically advised to have less than 18% fat. The fat percentage should be less than 8%, according to some vets. The Royal Canin has 7% fat compared to 14.9% in Hill’s i/d.
The ability to prepare their own pet’s food is another option given to pet owners. While the time-consuming nature of the process is a downside, some pet owners prefer it because they feel they can provide a diet that is safer, more natural, and, in some cases, more in line with their philosophical beliefs by choosing vegetarian, organic, or raw foods.
According to a recent poll, 10% of pet owners feed a non-commercial diet that accounts for at least 50% of their pet’s intake.
Although there are many sources on the internet that give recipes for homemade dog food, most of them cannot guarantee the amount of protein, fat, or vitamins the food will include. We advise hiring a veterinarian nutritionist if a pet owner is hesitant to create their own meals. New Zealand’s Massey University provides great services.
Generally speaking, “special” foods are more expensive than “regular” ones. This is valid whether you select store-bought, over-the-counter, or home-made foods and supplements. The cost comparisons between two premium brands that are sold at the majority of veterinary offices and the less expensive supermarket brands are shown in the table below. Costs for meats that can be included in a homemade diet, both animal grade and human grade, are also included.
*When choosing the ideal items for a DIY diet, it can be problematic because no information regarding the fat content is provided.
The Royal Canin or Hill’s i/d Gastrointestinal Low Fat foods that we would advise owners to purchase are obviously much more expensive. The cost of the meal would undoubtedly be compensated by the savings in veterinarian expenses, though, if a specific food can effectively control a clinical condition.
POTENTIAL ADVERSE REACTIONS
It is true that commercially produced dog diets differ greatly from what canines would consume in the wild. In the wild, dogs take the bones, intestines, and organs like the liver in addition to the meat of their victim. These are all a good source of essential nutrients. Pet owners who take good care of their animals and the producers of pet food are both interested in developing a product that not only closely resembles the diet of wild dogs but also enhances it for domesticated canines. The usual lifespan of a wolf is 6–8 years, thus we also intend to sustain the lives of our dogs for longer. This is not a simple job.
Manufacturers compete fiercely with one another. The normal consumer may be completely perplexed by their advertising and the rising popularity of online forums on dog diets.
There isn’t a pet food standard in Australia for processed or dry food. However, there is an Australian standard for frozen and fresh pet meat that was developed by the Meat Standards Committee of the Primary Industry Ministerial Council. The governing bodies of the state are in charge of enforcing it. The standard addresses every step of the procedure for producing pet meat to guarantee:
- Separate from meat fit for human consumption.
- is treated hygienically.
- is unaffected by hazardous illnesses.
Therefore, even while owners may feel certain that the meat they buy has complied with certain criteria at the moment of sale, there are still a number of concerns to consider when attempting to prepare their pet’s food at home. Concerns about contamination with pathogenic microbes should be raised with the owner if raw animal items are included (such as meat, eggs, or organs), especially if excrement or the animal itself are exposed to weak family members or outsiders (i.e., infants, elderly, immunocompromised).
Any additional items that could be harmful should also be listed, such as bones, garlic, onions, or grapes/raisins. Whole bones have the ability to suffocate an animal, fracture teeth, or pierce the internal organs. Additionally, there is a danger that the owner won’t select the right materials (based on advice they may receive from a number of people, not the least of which are sources on the internet). They could unintentionally establish an unbalanced diet that, if followed for a long time, could harm the health of their dog.
If a dog is fed a diet that is too low in fat, there may be unfavorable effects, notwithstanding what commercial food makers claim about their “low fat” products.
Too low-fat diets can cause deficits in fat-soluble vitamins, issues with the skin and coat, and can make your dog constantly tired and hungry.
Other things to think about are:
Intolerance or allergy to the protein source (e.g. chicken) Other alternatives, such fish or beef, are frequently available, although their fat contents cannot be guaranteed.
Contamination during processing could be hazardous. Liver failure could follow, which is unusual with commercial diets.
Food poisoning from home cooking (eg salmonella). This is absolutely feasible because the owner might invent a significant attribute that might set off. The owner may also prefer to purchase meat that is on “special,” which typically has a short use-by date.
ADVICE FOR OWNERS
The best suggestion for owners is to talk to their veterinarian about the nutritional requirements for their pet. A pancreatitis patient is typically discharged with pretty basic dietary recommendations: have a low-fat, high-fiber diet, and limit calorie intake.
The owner may be advised to buy a premium diet, such as Hil’s i/d or Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Digestive Low Fat, by the vets who operate at a general practice where premium dog food is sold.
The owner should be instructed to concentrate on low-fat meats like low-fat chicken breast if they want to manufacture their own dog chow. Lamb and pork are two examples of high-fat meats that should be avoided. For patients with pancreatic disease, homemade diets frequently include rice as an ingredient. Low-fat beef, beef organs (liver, kidney, and heart), egg whites, yogurt, barley, and cooked vegetables are among the additional ingredients.
To avoid accidentally encouraging the owner to feed their pet an unbalanced diet, the veterinarian must provide a particular diet plan if they recommend feeding a home-cooked meal. We would advise our clients to feed a commercially prepared prescription meal that has been specially developed to fit their pet’s needs as this is the most practical, accurate, and cost-effective choice.
Additionally, it is advised to offer their dog multiple small meals throughout the day as opposed to one large one. This is very critical to facilitate digestion.