Pancreatitis in Pets

Pancreatitis in Pets

When the pancreas becomes overworked or irritated, it can become inflamed.

Once the tissues of the pancreas become swollen, the pancreatic duct can become obstructed. The digestive enzymes continue accumulating within the pancreas, and the small intestine then triggers a signal for more production of the pancreatic enzymes due to their lack of presence in the small intestine. As a result, the enzymes now become active in the organ and begin to create havoc within the pancreas – creating further inflammation, self- digestion and scarring.

How it affects pets:

While this is occurring in the pancreas, the digestive system begins working incorrectly. The small intestine is no longer able to recognize the undigested state of nutrients, and is not able to absorb nutrients. Some of the visible signs of pancreatitis include: Vomiting partially digested food and/or yellow frothy bile, mucous-coated loose stool, a painful to touch belly, loss of appetite, restlessness or inability to get comfortable. Pancreatitis can be an acute but mild situation, where you may not have even noticed, or it can be chronic and severe – resulting in days of hospitalization. Left untreated, pancreatitis has the potential to progress into diabetes.


The exact cause for an attack of pancreatitis is not fully understood. Contributing factors include: Prior liver problems, Cushing’s disease, chronic bowel disease, diabetes, very rich, fatty meals, and gorging on trash or other stolen foods. Pancreatitis is most common in overweight dogs, eating highly-processed commercial diets, particularly foods containing lower protein, but higher fat and carbohydrates.

What types of foods do holistic vets recommend?

To reduce the production of enzymes during an episode of pancreatitis, the dog should have nothing by mouth other than water. The amount of fat, fruits and grains in the diet should be gradually reduced to very moderate levels. Fresh leans meats and colorful vegetables should be gradually increased. Foods should be fed slightly warm or at least at room temperature. Feeding several small meals can be helpful vs. less-frequent but larger meals. It’s important to make dietary changes very gradually.

Other modalities to consider:

Consider treating holistically with exercise, acupuncture, vitamin injections, and herbs or conventionally with a hospital stay, IV therapy and antibiotics. Supplementation with pancreatic enzymes is recommended for dogs that are prone to pancreatic problems. Consider homeopathic remedies Nux vomica and Belladonna. To find holistic help with your pet's pancreatitis, see our list of integrative veterinarians and holistic practitioners.

Diets that meet some of the parameters vets suggest:

Brandy Vachal

Brandy Vachal Moore is a dog mom to three pint-sized dogs: Donnatella the Maltese, Ernie the Yorkie-Maltese mix and Rico the Chihuahua. When she’s not defending her personal space from three dogs who know no boundaries. Brandy enjoys anything fitness related, traveling, hiking, and being outdoors in the San Diego sunshine. She loves all things social media and journalism and has worked for The Honest Kitchen for the past 5 years.
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