My Dog Has Pancreatitis. Can a Raw Dog Food Diet Help?

While it’s true that our dogs are carnivores, it’s important to note that they are also very resourceful scavengers and, as such, can survive eating foods that are essentially detrimental to their

· June 11, 2014

While it’s true that our dogs are carnivores, it’s important to note that they are also very resourceful scavengers and, as such, can survive eating foods that are essentially detrimental to their health and longevity.  Yes, your dog can live off of kibble and canned pet foods (which are high in carbohydrates) and they may even appear to be quite healthy and happy on this type of diet for the first few years.

But here’s something important that I must share with you.  In my 30+ years experience of formulating and feeding raw food diets for zoo carnivores, racing greyhound, and household dogs and cats, I’ve come in contact with many different breeds, conditions, styles of feeding, and opinions from pet parents, vets, and specialists.  Yet one of the things that is constant and remains very clear is the fact that the signs of degenerative disease most often appear in dogs around the age of 5-6 years old that are fed a commercial pet food diet. Unfortunately pancreatitis is one such degenerative disease.

What is Canine Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis literally means ‘inflammation of the pancreas’.  A dog that has been diagnosed with pancreatitis is essentially suffering from an inflamed pancreas that is either damaged or stressed, which prevents it from functioning properly.

The pancreas has two functions: first, it has a major role in the regulation of the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, and secondly, it produces digestive enzymes.  When the pancreas releases enzymes prematurely, they begin to digest the pancreas itself.  This is what we see in cases of pancreatitis in dogs.  Signs of pancreatitis in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain.  If pancreatitis is suspected, your veterinarian will most likely conduct a blood test to check to see if your dog’s enzyme levels are elevated.  They may also request a CT scan, ultrasound, or MRI for further confirmation of the disease.

Canine pancreatitis can range from mild, moderate, or severe.  If left untreated, this disease can cause various health complications – such as damage to the surrounding organs, heart arrhythmias, sepsis, or Malabsorption Syndrome – some of which can be fatal.

What Causes Pancreatitis in Dogs?

Canine pancreatitis is usually seen in middle-aged dogs that have spent a lifetime being fed a diet mainly consisting of cooked and processed foods.  Some alternative veterinarians believe it is because high-carbohydrate based pet foods, which are hard for pets to digest, overstress the pancreas, quickly depleting its enzyme reserves.

Pets on steroid treatments (which are commonly used to treat allergies in dogs or canine arthritis) are also susceptible to developing pancreatitis, as are overweight or obese dogs.  Dogs that are regularly fed table scraps, which are usually very high in fat, are also susceptible.

The common anti-seizure medication, potassium bromide, taken by epileptic dogs to treat epileptic seizures has also been linked to increased instances of pancreatitis in dogs.   However, not all dogs with pancreatitis contract the disease from food or medication.  Certain breeds are more prone to contract the disease, such as Yorkshire terriers and Schnauzers.

How to Treat Pancreatitis in Dogs

The common treatment for pancreatitis in dogs is the use of medication to treat the various symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea.  Conventional veterinarians will usually prescribe a prescription dog food or recommend feeding a bland, low fat dog food.  Unfortunately, these diets are high in carbohydrates and not very appetizing for the animal.

It has been my experience that feeding a natural, raw food diet is very beneficial when treating pancreatitis in dogs.  Raw, uncooked foods contain an abundance of live, active enzymes.  These living enzymes help with the digestion process, and also reduce stress on the pancreas that is forced to produce additional enzymes to break down the food. This makes a raw food diet the best dog food for pancreatitis.

Again, it’s important to remember that dogs with pancreatitis should be fed a low fat dog food in order to reduce further aggravation to the pancreas.  Stay away from meat proteins that are high in fat, such as lamb and pork.  Instead, feed meats that are lower in fat, like chicken or beef – and if they are raw and uncooked, it is even better.

I’ve seen firsthand how effective it is to feed the BARF Diet (aka biologically appropriate raw food) to dogs suffering from pancreatitis.  It improves their appetite, digestion, and absorption of nutrients.  Here’s a recent testimonial from one of my clients who decided to feed raw to her pancreatic dog – you’ll be amazed by her story…

I cant thank you all enough for saving Charlie’s life! Our doggie just turned 7 and he became so ill that he almost didn’t recover.

End of July 2013 he was shaky and couldn’t hold his head up or go near water or food. We rushed him to the hospital and discovered he was diabetic with his glucose at 800. The vet said we have 2 choices, to either administer insulin every 12 hours for the rest of his life or have him put down (that was never going to happen). So he stayed in ICU for 7 days and finally came home. Two weeks ago, my mom called and said Charlie is vomiting uncontrollably and has diarrhea also, so I rushed him to his vet and after blood work he was diagnosed with pancreatitis.

The range is to be under 200 and his was 839. The vet gave him tons of injections and sent him home with tons of anti-biotics and many other meds. A week later he started vomiting again and I rushed him back to his vet. Blood work was repeated and his pancreatitis range was now at 1000. The vet called me in with the saddest look on his face and asked what my plan was for Charlie. I began hysterically crying as I couldn’t imagine our life without him.

The vet said he will go home with way more anti-biotics and meds than before and IV’s 2 x a day. He also thought it may be pancreatic cancer. I left there and called Evan at Barf world and all I can say is that call saved our Charlie’s life. He got Robert on the phone right away, who faxed me a protocol for pancreatitis. Charlie’s was one of the worst cases. Robert informed me as to how serious this was and how much I needed to follow this protocol. I was drained from daily vet visits and administering meds/Iv’s. I wasn’t able to sleep or eat all week from worry. Needless to say I was a basket case because Charlie was to repeat labs the following week and I knew it was going be the worst news ever. So I took him in on Monday and went back on Tuesday without him to be read the results.

The vet called me in as the staff looked on holding their breath. I had called them numerous times a day and they really felt my pain but couldn’t help Charlie. When I walked in the room, the vet had a look of confusion on his face. I just knew in my heart that the end for Charlie had come. But it wasn’t the end for him!!! The vet said his pancreatic range was 54. I jumped up and down, screaming with joy! Even his staff rejoiced! I told them all that the folks at Barf World saved his life by sending me crucial info. Had I followed this protocol 2 weeks ago, Charlie wouldn’t have suffered the way he did and I wouldn’t be out thousands of dollars in vet bills. All I can say is these people at Barf world know more than any vet and I will only feed the raw diet to our little guy for the rest of his life.

Barf world, I cant thank you enough for the phone calls and concern. Ive never seen compassion like this before.”

– Lucy Saponjian (Van Nuys, CA)

The opinions and recommendations above are based on my 30+ years of experience feeding a raw diet to many different breeds of dogs suffering from a variety conditions, including pancreatitis.  However I recommend that you always consult your own veterinarian when making changes to your dog’s diet, and especially if you suspect pancreatitis in your dog.

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Robert Mueller, BSc, Pharm. is a registered pharmacist, author of Living Enzymes: The World’s Best Kept Pet Food Secret” , and co-developer of BARF World’s BARF diets patties, nuggets and supplements – the first company to make the Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF) diet conveniently available to animals everywhere. To receive more articles like these in your email inbox, click here to sign up for “The Intelligent Pet” weekly e-zine absolutely FREE!

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36 Comments

sandy
Apr 10, 2020

I would like your protocol for pancreatitis in dogs

The BARF World Team
Apr 21, 2020

Hi Sandy,

I just wanted to follow-up with you in regards to your request for the pancreatitis protocol. Did you receive our email with this information?

If not, feel free to give us a call and we would be happy to resend it.

Dee Henderson
Sep 26, 2020

Hi,
My dog is currently in the hospital recovering from pancreatitis. I want to be ready when he comes home with great healing food. I would so much appreciate the mentioned protocols.
Thank you so much,
Dee and Ollie

BARF World Team
Sep 28, 2020

Hi Dee,

We are sorry to hear about your dog. You can email us at info@barfworld.com and we will be happy to send you our pancreatitis protocol.

Thanks and stay well.

Max dean
May 02, 2021

PLEASE PLEASE send me the pancreatitis dog protocol asap. I have a 15 year old schnauzer is dire need.

I am willing to do anything to help him.

Thank you

Claire
Aug 25, 2020

Hello, I wonder if you would be willing to also send me the pancreatitis protocol. My dog has just had the most awful case of Acute Pancreatitis and I was sure I was going to loose him.

Many thanks in advance.
Regards
Claire

Julie chadwick
Feb 02, 2020

Hi,
I have a dog who has had several pancreatitis diagnoses,BID and colitis.I have just started feeding raw but would be interested in your protocol.Do you do private consultations?

Elaine
Oct 08, 2020

I would like the protocol for pancreatitis please.

The BARF World Team
Oct 08, 2020

Hi Elaine,

We will be happy to send your our pancreatitis protocol. Please email us at info@barfworld.com. Thanks and stay well.

Sophie
Mar 08, 2020

Hi my dogs recently been diagnosed with pancreatitis and I’m unsure where to even begin with feeding him a raw food diet to make sure it’s fully balanced and he’s getting all that he needs?

The BARF World Team
Mar 20, 2020

Hi Sophie,

We would love to chat with you to develop a custom plan that would be best. Please give us a call 1-866-282-2273 or email us at info@barfworld.com.

The BARF World Team
Feb 04, 2020

Hi Julie,

Yes. We would love to provide you with some support in raw feeding so we can get your dog healthy again. Feel free to send us an email at info@barfworld.com so we can schedule a time for you to chat with one of our specialists.

Jackie
Apr 27, 2020

I contacted a holistic vet due to re-occurrence of pancreatitis. I switched to a freeze dried raw pork due to her recommendation and have added goat's milk. Stools are soft so I have backed off the goat's milk. He has been doing well, however, vomiting has started, just in the morning. I am at my wits end researching food, plus it is so costly. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Anne Griffiths
May 12, 2020

Copied from your text: "Canine pancreatitis is usually seen in middle-aged dogs that have spent a lifetime being fed a diet mainly consisting of cooked and processed foods. Some alternative veterinarians believe it is because high-carbohydrate based pet foods, which are hard for pets to digest, overstress the pancreas, quickly depleting its enzyme reserves."

My six year old Ben has just recovered from an extreme case of pancreatitis from which the vets did not expect him to recover.From 10 weeks of age he has been fed on nothing other than high quality,organic raw meat -beef,chicken,venison - low fat less than 10% and no processed food at all. Occasional home cooked - by poaching or steaming with no added fat.High protein high fat diets are the norm-but not for Ben who is now on a high protein but less than !0% fat on DMB. Suggest you revise your comments.

Elcy
Jun 22, 2020

Anne, I agree with you 100%, these sweeping statements drive me nuts. I suspect my raw fed shepherd mix has pancreatitis and we are working on a diagnosis right now; if he tests positive he will be my second raw fed dog to have come down with pancreatitis, of only four dogs that I have fed raw. I would like to see the peer reviewed sources that support their "processed foods primarily cause pancreatitis" statement.

The BARF World Team
Aug 06, 2020

Hi Jackie & Anne

Thank you for the feedback. One thing to keep in mind, that not all Raw Dog Diets are the same. The BARF World diet has been around for over 40 years. We are not the “new kids on the block”. Our pancreatitis protocol was created and developed by Dr. Ian Billinghurst, who is a pioneer in the raw dog food industry. We have seem many success stories from our fury friends who came to us with pancreatits and switched to the BARF diet. As stated on our website, “Canine pancreatitis is ‘usually’ seen in middle-aged dogs…..” Not all dogs are alike and not all cases are alike. I would recommend that you check out Dr. Karen Becker’s video about pancreatitis. She addresses the link between processed food and pancreatitis. We wish you and your fur babies the best.

The BARF World Team
May 04, 2020

Hi Jackie,

We would love to help. We could work together to find a solution that will work best for you and your pet. Feel free to give us a call. We have a 90 day challenge that would be a great start for your pet.

Contact us at 1-866-282-2273 or by email info@barfworld.com and we can schedule a time to chat.

Hope to hear from you soon.

https://youtu.be/TWV2QGxVYsE

Stacey Steele
Jul 18, 2020

My boy has pancreatitis - he was eating a new raw premade beef from a local supplier since Covid made it hard to buy meat in stores, but we have also been sneaking in our protein source from our dinner (cooked) and some scraps (we’ve been eating worse since the Covid quarantine) He has a poultry allergy & doesn’t do well with rice either. The vet suggested boiling low fat ground beef and then switching to an Rx pet food w/ hydrolysized proteins. I don’t trust RX pet foods. Anyway, his blood work is fine with the exception of elevated lipids & triglycerides. May I please have your pancreatitis protocol that everyone has been mentioning? Many thanks!

Melissa Chipman
Jul 30, 2020

Could you please send me the protocol too? My little Roxy was diagnosed on July 17, 2020 with pancreatitis. She is a 15.5-year old miniature dachshund. We just did an ultrasound yesterday to confirm that. The doctor said that there is no evidence of any tumors, masses, abscesses, fluid buildup, and that her gallbladder, liver, and kidneys are all normal. I'm just now learning and researching about feeding a raw diet and would really appreciate the help. I have two other younger dachshunds as well. I just want them all to be as happy and healthy as possible. Thank you so very much.

Melissa Chipman

Anne Griffiths
Jul 29, 2020

Hi ELCI - I note that neither you or I have received comments in reply from The BARF World Team !!!

I wonder why? Maybe questioning does not go down well with them!

I am not disputing the quality of any diet but I would welcome an answer - pancreatitis can also be caused by the FAILURE of the pancreas to produce sufficient insulin to help with the digestion of any food, including raw food - especially if diabetes is concerned . How one would work out a diet under those circumstances?

Such a pity there is no reply!!!

The BARF World Team
Aug 06, 2020

HI Melissa,

Please email us your email address and we will be happy to send you our pancreatitis protocol

The BARF World Team
Aug 11, 2020

H Anne,

Please see our response from Aug 6th. Thanks

The BARF World Team
Aug 11, 2020

H Anne,

Please see our response from Aug 6th. Thanks

Joyce Hamilton
Nov 22, 2020

Please can you help my Basset Hound he is fed raw as he has pancreatitis I’m interested in your pancreatitis protocol so I can make sure my Fred is getting a correct diet for his needs Thank you

Joyce and Fred Basset Hound

The BARF World Team
Nov 24, 2020

Hi Joyce,
We will be happy to send your our pancreatitis protocol. Please email us at info@barfworld.com.
Thanks and stay well.

Clare Pearne
Aug 26, 2020

Please could you send me your pancreatitis protocol
Thank you

Jenna Steiner
Aug 08, 2020

Please also send me the protocol! My Aussie lab mix was diagnosed with pancreatitis two weeks ago and is on the royal canin GI low fat diet which is super expensive. I am not sure what to do because I don’t want her to keep developing pancreatitis. She is approaching 5 so I guess she would be considered middle aged.

The BARF World Team
Aug 20, 2020

Hi Jenna,

We will be happy to send you our pancreatitis protocol. Just email us at info@barfworld.com and we will email you our protocol. Thanks and be well

Melissa Chipman
Jul 30, 2020

Could you please send me the protocol too? My little Roxy was diagnosed on July 17, 2020 with pancreatitis. She is a 15.5-year old miniature dachshund. We just did an ultrasound yesterday to confirm that. The doctor said that there is no evidence of any tumors, masses, abscesses, fluid buildup, and that her gallbladder, liver, and kidneys are all normal. I'm just now learning and researching about feeding a raw diet and would really appreciate the help. I have two other younger dachshunds as well. I just want them all to be as happy and healthy as possible. Thank you so very much.

The BARF World Team
Aug 07, 2020

HI Melissa,

Yes, we will be happy to email your our protocol for pancreatitis. Just send us your email. Thanks

Karen Parfitt
Jul 14, 2020

My Lurcher has just been diagnosed with Pancreatitis. She is already raw fed but I would appreciate a copy of your protocol if possible please so that I can see what meats she can now be fed other than chicken and beef.

The BARF World Team
Aug 06, 2020

Hi Karen,

Please email us your email address and we will be happy to send you our pancreatitis protocol for Lurcher. Take care

The BARF World Team
Jul 21, 2020

Hi Stacey & Karen,

We would be happy to help your Lurcher. Feel free to email us at info@barfworld.com and we can share our protocol with you.

Jordan
Dec 15, 2020

Hi there

My friends jack Russell has been diagnosed with pancreatitis and she is very worried about him and not sure what to do. I have recommended raw food but would love to be able to send her the protocol that you recommend.
Could you possibly send me the info?

Much appreciated

Helen R Huizenga
Aug 19, 2020

Hi,

I would like to have the protocol for the pancreatitis please. I have a 13 year old that is on a home cooked diet and some hydrolyzed kibble. I am learning that cooking is as bad as kibble. So any help is appreciated !!

Thank You !!
Helen

The BARF World Team
Aug 19, 2020

Hi Helen,

We will be happy to send you our pancreatitis protocol. Please email us at info@barfworld.com and we will email it to you.

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What is BARF?

"BARF®" is our acronym that means Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. It is a complete and carefully balanced blend of raw meat, fruits, vegetables and bone. Our formula mimics what nature has designed our pet's to thrive on in the wild. The result is a pet free of allergies, digestive problems, and full of life!