How Can a Raw Food Diet Help Pancreatitis?

While it’s true that our dogs are omnivores, it’s important to note that they are also very resourceful scavengers who can survive eating foods that are essentially detrimental to their health and longevity. 

Robert Mueller, Sr. · September 22, 2020

How Can a Raw Food Diet Help Pancreatitis?

While it’s true that our dogs are omnivores, it’s important to note that they are also very resourceful scavengers who 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.

In my 40+ 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.  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:
  • It has a major role in the regulation of the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates
  • It produces digestive enzymes

When the pancreas releases enzymes prematurely, these enzymes 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
  • abdominal pain 

If pancreatitis is suspected, your veterinarian will most likely conduct a blood test checking 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, to 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 often 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) as well as overweight or obese dogs are susceptible to developing pancreatitis. Dogs that are regularly fed table scraps, that are very high in fat, are also susceptible.

A 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 active enzymes.  These 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.

*The opinions and recommendations above are based on my 40+ years of experience feeding a raw diet to many different breeds of dogs suffering from a variety of 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.


Robert Mueller, Sr.

Robert Mueller, Sr.

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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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!