The best way to feed dogs suffering from pancreatitis is what makes treating dogs with the condition so difficult. Not to mention the changes taking place in veterinary medicine offer the years. Past treatment, fasting for 24-48 hours, is no longer recommended because of the harmful effects that prolonged fasting can have on the structure and function of the gastrointestinal tract. Fasting is recommended to rest the pancreas, ending the cyclical symptoms of the condition as food passing through the intestinal tract would stimulate the pancreas to secrete digestive enzymes, thereby increasing pancreatic inflammation.
Despite the lack of studies for recommended feeding, most vets believe in feeding the dogs as soon as possible now. But not when vomiting is still taking place, as they can’t keep it down. This is where the importance of anti-nausea medications comes into play. Once the vomiting is under control that’s when food is re-introduced.
We’ve experienced this change personally while dealing with Dolly’s pancreatitis.
Feed a Temporary Bland Diet for Dogs with Pancreatitis
Recently I had several bouts of pancreatitis resulting in four vet visits, two of them emergency. After the second trip to the ER for vomiting my treatment instructions said to not feed me any water or food. At 6 a.m. I’m allowed a little water and a small amount of a bland diet. I am then to continue on the bland diet for three to four days in smaller portions three to four times a day. Bland diets, recommended only for a short time, as they are not nutritionally balanced and if kept on this diet for a prolonged time you need to consult a veterinary nutritionist to ensure your dog receives a balanced diet.
The bland diet recommended is boiled chicken white meat and white rice. We only have chicken breasts and brown rice so that is what I got. Unfortunately it didn’t take long to become constipated. Our vet’s office said to stop feeding me the rice, which didn’t make sense, as we assumed it was high in fiber. After that I began eating my regular food again.
Two days later, after some vomiting, I’m back at our vet. I wasn’t prescribed any other medication at the ER, which concerned our vet after thoroughly reading the ER’s report. No blood work is necessary as I have a history of pancreatitis. Some dogs are just prone to the disease, born with a high level of lipedemia in the blood, no matter what you feed your dog. So maybe it’s just something I am born with and not what I’m eating so much.
Low Fat Prescription Diet for Dogs with Pancreatitis
In dogs, dietary fat is associated with the development of pancreatitis and can stimulate the secretion of a hormone that induces the pancreas to secrete its digestive hormones. Therefore, start feeding low-fat foods slowly.
Obviously some changes are needed in my diet, something we’ve always resisted because I am on a very healthy, limited ingredient diet already that is low in fat. After my first diagnosis we began feeding me a food recommended to contain between 10-15% fat with 12% or less the best.
We agreed to try Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care Original Low Fat Canned Dog Food, (Amazon affiliate link) but keeping me on my regular kibble for now. One of the reasons why I haven’t been placed on a prescription diet is due to my food allergies. In case of any allergies to the food the vet refilled my Apoquel prescription, recommending me to take it daily. I’m also to take the anti-nausea medication Cerenia for eight days, once in the morning at least 40 minutes before my breakfast, to allow it to coat my stomach.
I loved the new canned food, and it’s actually cheaper than the limited ingredient canned food I eat. Everything went pretty well for a while. The main problem remembering to give me my medication early enough before my breakfast. This meant reversing our morning routine, breakfast first, followed by our walk. But a few mornings after forgetting to give me my pill before my walk, I got it after the walk while trying not to feed me, which is difficult because I am expecting my breakfast. But, one morning I got my pill and breakfast at almost the same time, so of course I threw up my breakfast. New schedules are hard but we limped on through the eight days with no more problems. Two days after completing my meds, I threw up my breakfast at least two hours after I ate, which is not a good sign.
At first the we considered just calling for a refill on the Cerenia, but thankfully our vet’s office is open this time, so off we go. By now we’re really worried that I’m not getting better, resulting in hospitalization. My exam went well but it was obvious I had a very upset stomach. The food I threw up was completely digested so she prescribed eight more days of the Cerenia as that helps food move from the stomach through the digestive track. I also got another injection since she could tell I still had an upset stomach and it just takes this long for my system to start digesting my food normally. I got to have dinner that night but later and a small amount. We also received instructions to go on three small meals a day.
Feed Dogs with Pancreatitis 3 – 4 Small Meals a Day
Smaller and more frequent meals is another recommended treatment for a dog with pancreatitis. Which means a dog would get four meals consisting of about 1/16 of what it would normally eat spread over 24 hours. As long as the dog continues to improve, the amount of food offered could increase by one-quarter every day so that at the end of four days, the patient is taking in their full resting energy requirement.
A new feeding schedule isn’t easy, especially with two dogs. So we decided to keep it as simple as possible. We’re still making adjustments but we know now that there is little room for error or I’ll get sick again. Now I get breakfast after our first potty breaks, then go for our walk. Breakfast for me is a half cup of kibble. The Lady measures out a full cup of kibble in the morning and I get half of that as my stomach should be pretty empty. Around noon or at least four hours after breakfast I get lunch, which is half of the remaining kibble and about a quarter cup of wet food. Then dinner is at four with the same amount of wet food and kibble. If my lunch is late then my dinner hour gets postponed if possible.
So far everything is working out. I love my low-fat prescription canned food but as far as changing the kibble, there are no plans to do that. We looked at just about every dry food on the market and none of them were lower in fat than the limited ingredient kibble I eat. Not to mention, the ingredients were questionable for us with most containing chicken meal or other ingredients that I’m allergic too.
It seems that not all dog’s digest their food as easily as others. That’s what makes having a dog with pancreatitis so difficult to treat. But the most important thing you can do is to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. If not, it could lead to hospitalization or even death.
If you don’t understand what pancreatitis actually does to dogs we recommend this post on Dogster.com.