Copyright: Ian Billinghurst. Pancreatitis means literally – “Inflammation of the Pancreas”.
The Pancreas is an organ that does two things. Firstly it produces the hormone Insulin which is involved in the regulation of blood sugar in the body. Secondly it produces digestive enzymes. Pancreatitis is usually seen in middle aged, sedentary overweight dogs which have spent a lifetime being fed a diet which consisted mainly of cooked and processed foods. It is a disease of bodily degeneration. When a dog develops pancreatitis it is because the digestive enzymes it produces, start to attack the pancreas itself instead of waiting until they reach the inside of the digestive tract where they help digest the food. In other words those enzymes in the pancreas start to digest the pancreas. This produces pain, it makes the dog feel nauseous, and so the dog often vomits and quite often bacteria move into this area causing an infection. Usually the dog will run a temperature. The bottom line with this disease is a depressed, inactive, vomiting dog with a temperature and a tummy ache.
The diagnosis is made based on the above clinical signs together with the results of blood tests.
How do we treat Pancreatitis?
The initial treatment involves non steroidal anti-inflammatories, antibiotics and complete rest from eating and drinking.
1] The non steroidal anti-inflammatories are given to reduce the fever, stop the pain and to stop the pancreas digesting itself.
2] The antibiotics are given to stop any bacteria moving in to the damaged pancreas and causing an infection.
3] No food is to be fed. The idea of this is to stop all stimulation of the pancreas. This is because every time food is fed the pancreas starts to digest itself and the problem starts all over again. That means No water for twelve hours and no food for 48 hours or possibly longer. The length of time food and water is withheld depends on the severity of the attack. Food may be withheld for up to 6 days with a very bad attack. In this case water would also be withheld for several days and the dog would be hospitalized and fed with an intravenous drip.
Finally — REDUCE YOUR DOG’S STRESS TO A MINIMUM. Stress is a major cause of pancreatitis, as are big fatty meals and the drug cortisone.
DIET FOR PANCREATITIS
When it is time to re-introduce food, your dog will be nice and hungry and ready to eat just about anything. This is great because we want your dog to start a completely new diet. The diet is designed initially to prevent re-occurrence of the problem, and ultimately, to not only prevent re-occurrence but to improve your dog’s total health.
You must not feed……………Cooked food, grain, fatty meals, processed food, canned or dry dog or cat food.
WHAT YOU SHOULD BE FEEDING
1. Lots of little meals – ie small meals several times a day.
2. Lots and lots of RAW vegetables – which must be CRUSHED. ie put through a juicer or a food processor. Carrot, celery, cabbage, pumpkin etc.
3. Lean RAW minced meat – chicken, beef, kangaroo – RAW – and only in very small amounts.
4. Non fat yogurt
5. Fruit – apples, pears, orange, banana, mango etc
6. Liver, egg, cottage cheese, sardines [in spring water] – in very small amounts.
7. Slippery elm bark powder
8. Digestive Enzymes
9. Supplements including Multi-vitamin B, vitamin E, Flax seed oil, Cod liver oil, garlic, kelp, vitamin C and zinc.
The first water after an attack – should be little and often till satisfied
The first food fed after an attack…………Should be 90 to 100 percent raw crushed vegetables. To this is added an enzyme tablet -crushed and mixed through and left to stand for 10 to 15 minutes. If this is refused, add a tiny amount of one or several of the foods from the WHAT YOU SHOULD BE FEEDING list – to make it more interesting. That is, depending on what your dog likes, a tiny bit of minced meat or egg etc. BUT ONLY A TINY BIT! This is a small meal. Maybe a quarter to an eighth the size of what he or she would normally eat.
Two to four hours later offer the same again. Repeat this over the next several days. You may gradually, increase the size of these meals to about a third to a quarter of what he/she is used to eating, and reduce the frequency to 2 or three meals a day. Do this over a period of several weeks. Gradually introduce the other elements of the diet like vitamins, the cod liver oil, slippery elm bark powder, the zinc, the kelp etc.
When all is going well, and usually after a blood test has confirmed that the pancreas is back to normal, you may start to introduce some raw meaty bones into the diet. Chicken wings/necks, shank bones, large beef bones.
THE ONGOING PANCREATITIS DIET
This is what you feed, once your dog has fully recovered from the attack. It is designed to prevent re-occurrence of the problem, and build your dog’s overall health. This diet will also help prevent problems such as heart failure, kidney disease, arthritis, cancer, diabetes and so on.
You still stick to small meals, lean meals, mostly vegetable meals and raw non processed food meals. You continue with all the supplements etc. It is suggested you offer two types of meals. A vegetable patty or rissole meal, and a raw meaty bone meal. Two thirds to three quarters of the diet will be the vegetable patty or rissole meal, with one third to one quarter being the raw meaty bone meal.
THE VEGETABLE PATTY OR RISSOLE MEAL
Feed this meal two or three times a day. Feed your dog BEFORE you feed the family so that he/she is not stressed out by wanting to eat your cooked food. Here is the recipe for vegetable patties. You are going to make a lot. The ones not eaten on the day are frozen for later thawing and feeding. You are making healthy convenience food.
The patties are made from three parts RAW vegetables [say one and a half kilos] which must be CRUSHED. ie put through a juicer or a food processor. Carrot, celery, cabbage, pumpkin etc. [Note: grating is not good enough] To this is added: One part Lean RAW minced meat – [say half a kilo] chicken, beef, kangaroo, pork etc- RAW. Now add some Non fat yogurt – say a small tub. Now add as much as you like of any Fruit – apples, pears, orange, banana, mango etc.. Now add One of the following: Liver – [say one quarter of a lambs fry], or one or two Eggs, or a couple of tablespoons of cottage cheese, or a tin of Sardines in spring water.
Now add ….a couple of tablespoons of Slippery elm bark powder, plus 3 or 4 Enzyme tablets, [crushed and mixed through], and finally the Supplements including: Multi-vitamin B [2 teaspoons]
vitamin E [1000 iu],
Flax seed oil 3 dsp],
Cod liver oil, one or two tsp [feed separately if taste is a problem],
garlic [2 or 3 cloves],
kelp [2 or 3 tsp] and
zinc – twice the normal adult human daily dose.
Vitamin C – approximately 3 grams.
Note: All the ingredients must be so fine and so well mixed that your dog cannot pick out the bits he/she likes and leave the bits he/she does not like.
Pancreatitis – Monica Segal
Typically, dogs with pancreatitis vomit profusely, may have diarrhea, lose weight, refuse food, and are in pain. But not every dog fits this profile. Some, like our Tori bounce around happily, eat with gusto and keep the food down every single day. It’s only because I’ve worked with so many of these cases that I wondered about pancreatitis when Tori had awful stool (a mushy mess with mucus) for a few weeks. Given that her GI tract has always been robust, and her diet hadn’t changed, it seemed to me that if she didn’t have parasites (we dewormed her), or a bacterial overgrowth (the prescription for Tylan did nothing to help her even after four weeks), pancreatitis was a possibility. In Tori’s case, it could very well be related to the medications she takes for IMHA, but regardless of the cause, a blood test seemed reasonable.
The chemistry profile revealed that amylase and lipase (two enzymes that are sometimes elevated when pancreatitis is present) were normal. Based on this alone, it would be easy to suggest that she didn’t have pancreaitits, so I’m glad that we ran the cPL Test as well. It’s based on this far more accurate test that she was diagnosed.
The diet of a dog with pancreatitis must be low in fat. Dietary fat prompts the pancreas to produce the greatest number of enzymes when the goal is to rest the pancreas instead. I changed Tori’s diet to rabbit and potato, and her response was faster than expected. Stool was suddenly shaped and almost without visible mucus. It’s been a couple of weeks now, and she seems to be doing really well. Another cPL test will follow, of course. Just as my experience with dogs over the years has helped me to think about pancreatitis in Tori’s case, I hope you’ll remember Tori’s experience if your own dog seems to have mysterious stool trouble without a diagnosis from the start.
Overview – Dr. Stack
Pancreatitis is an inflammatory disease of the pancreas. The pancreas is a finger-sized, spongy, flesh-colored gland that sits beside the small intestine in the abdomen. Its job is to manufacture and secrete digestive enzymes and insulin. When stimulated by the animal swallowing food, digestive enzymes are released into the small intestine. Think of pancreatitis as the pancreas trying to digest itself. Pancreatic tissue damaged by autodigestion can become infected and even necrotic (dead).
Pancreatitis is no more peculiar to greyhounds than to any other breed. In fact, the poster dog for pancreatitis is the miniature schnauzer due to its high incidence of hyperlipidemia – a condition of inordinate amounts of fat in the blood – “doggie high cholesterol,” if you will. Not surprisingly, the schnauzer also has an increased incidence of diabetes, caused by a dysfunctional pancreas that doesn’t make enough insulin.
Some cases of pancreatitis have no cause that can be readily identified. An equal number can be directly traced to the dog consuming greasy or fatty food. Sometimes it’s a whole tub of butter, other times, a single scrap of steak. Nobody really knows why you can add a little bacon grease to a dog’s food regularly and then one day – BAM! – pancreatitis. Don’t take the chance.
Pancreatic infection is more dangerous than infection within the gastrointestinal tube (stomach, intestines) because the pancreas sits free in the abdomen. Surrounding organs may become contaminated, resulting in peritonitis (infection of the entire abdominal cavity), which has a high mortality rate. Pancreatitis can lead to kidney failure and DIC, an endstage bleeding disorder triggered by a variety of conditions from parvo to heatstroke. DIC stands for disseminated intravascular coagulation – a.k.a. Death Is Coming, Dead In Cage, Dog In Cooler, etc.
Signs of pancreatitis are loss of appetite, lethargy, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and a painful abdomen. Not every dog has every sign. Cases vary from mild to life threatening. In serious cases, the belly is tender to the touch.
The classic case has milky appearing serum due to the high amount of fat in the blood (lipemia). Other lab findings are a high white blood count, high amylase and lipase, and possibly a high BUN, liver enzymes, and / or glucose. Electrolyte derangements are common as a result of prolonged vomiting.
The cornerstone of treatment is to get the dog off all oral intake (including water) to reduce pancreatic stimulation. This necessitates intravenous fluids until vomiting has stopped and the dog is able to keep down food and water again, typically several days. Antibiotics and anti-vomit medicines are usually needed. Recovering pancreatitis dogs are placed on a bland low fat diet. Most can be weaned back to their regular dog food, assuming it has a reasonable fat and protein content. Severe cases are best kept on low fat food forever. Any dog who has suffered through a bout of pancreatitis should never again be fed anything fatty or greasy in any amount as they are at increased risk for recurrence.