Low fat foods for pancreatitis


This is sort of a combo medical/food discussion but moreso food related.

So it's looking more and more likely Riley has pancreatitis... she had another "episode" yesterday of bloody diarrhea and this time vomited blood too.  We took her to the vet - got a different vet this time (who was much more reasonable I think).   Awaiting blood test results for a definitive answer but it's now been 3 incidences of sudden onset bloody diarrhea/inappetance since January and the vet is pretty convinced and says she would classify it as "level 1" pancreatitis whatever that is.  The last time her blood test revealed elevated pancreatic enzyme levels but the levels were back to normal after 2 weeks of a bland diet. 

DH and I agree that it's pretty likely what is going on, Riley has always needed frequent feeding since reaching adulthood or she gets digestive upset (vomiting) and frequent feeding is one of the ways to help manage pancreatitis.  We may have been accidentally "Treating" it somewhat with frequent meals 4x a day.  It would also explain why she is "lazy" and tires easily. 

For now just to get Riley stabilized she is eating the Royal Canin low fat GI prescription food (barf) but I'd like to try to find something that we could use long-term.  At Riley's follow-up I will ask the vet what exactly are the criteria I should look for in a "good" brand that would satisfy the medical requirements.  

The other prescription option is a Purina low fat food, they are both ~5% fat on a dry matter basis.  I wasn't sure which one to pick in the spur of the moment because I know they are both garbage and I'd like to try to find something better long-term.  The nutrition in the purina looks better (more protein, more fibre) but it has that awful "animal digest" stuff in it.

Royal Canin:  https://www.royalcanin.com/us/dogs/products/vet-products/canine-gastrointestinal-low-fat-dry-dog

Purina: https://www.proplanveterinarydiets.ca/consumer/products/en-gastroenteric-low-fat-dry-canine-formula

I am going to hunt around and start comparing using these criteria is there anything else I should be looking at?  I'll make an excel sheet for the vet so that she can compare.

- Fat % (10-12% or lower cutoff to make the list)
- Protein % (higher is better)
- Omega 6:3 ratio 
- Fiber
- Kcal/cup
- Protein sources (in case Riley does also have some kind of food sensitivity)
- Carbohydrate sources 

Poor Riley, she is feeling much better since yesterday afternoon and has been wolfing down the kibble (apparently she likes junk food).  


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  •  In addition to animal digest, the Purina food contains a synthertic form of vitamin K,  menadione sodium bisulfite, which is prohibited in human foods and in dog food in Europe and most other civilized countries because it's been linked to all kinds of diseases. Purina is just about the only brand aside from real garbage like Ol' Roy that still contains this stuff.  Without even looking at the Royal canin food, I can tell you that it's better than the Purina. Anything is better than Purina. ANYTHING. 

    I really wouldn't bother asking the vet for opinions on "good" brands of pet food, because the vet's idea of a "good" brand is Purina, lol.  

    I would go with Wellness Simple Salmon & Potato; it meets or exceeds all of your criteria, and it's an excellent food. You absolutely do not need an Rx food. You do need to make sure that the dog doesn't eat anything, including treats or chews, that has a high fat percentage, and for treats, it's best to keep that under 5%.  

    However, I'm going to question the diagnosis here, at least until you get test results. This just doesn;t sound like pancreatitis to me.
    Acute pancreatitis in dogs is serious. It has a high mortality rate and the dogs are really really really sick. Most need to be hospitalized. 
    Jane has posted some great information about pancreatitis in the Health Group, as her Guinness has had it several times. I'm going to go find the link to the discussion and post it here. 

    • I must have had your voice in my head saying anything is better than Purina, I thought Royal Canin was the lesser of the two "evils" as a temporary solution, I didn't have time to look anything up.  I definitely don't intend on keeping her on that forever, just long enough to bring things under control. It's only a 6 lb bag and won't last long at 5 cups a day.

      The vet said something like she suspected "Level 1 pancreatitis"... which I have no idea what that means but based on Jane's excellent descriptions it sounds like Riley may have chronic pancreatitis if she does have it at all.  I don't think she's ever been quite to the level of an acute pancreatitis attack like Guinness had which now that you point it out may be a clue that it's actually IBS/IBD.  The vet said that it's possible that it's IBD instead which would also make sense, Riley grabbed a mouthful of popcorn on Sunday afternoon and then her symptoms started up Monday morning. 

      Riley definitely wasn't SUPER sick yesterday, the vet said her vitals were good, no fever, good gum colour etc.  

      Last time she had an "incident" her pancreatic enzyme levels returned to normal within 2 weeks.. which I imagine if she had chronic pancreatitis they would not have.  Certainly having an irritated/over-active digestive system would cause those levels to increase as well.  The vet said that if it's not pancreatitis then next course of action will be to assume diet sensitivity and do an elimination trial.

      • The only kind of "diet sensitivity" that would cause bloody vomiting/bloody diarrhea is eosinophilic IBD. Period, full stop. Even when a dog does have an actual allergy to a specific protein in food, it doesn't cause blood in the stool or in the vomitus. Those things are symptoms of an inflammatory condition, and food sensitvity is not an inflammatory condition.  If pancreatitis is ruled out, I would go directly to a specialist rather than put her through an unnecessary elimination trial. 

        • I got some clarification on what the GP vet said - she said that even if we saw a specialist (which would be expensive and stress on Riley of being put under for biopsy etc.) that it would be the same end result, find a food that works and stick with it strictly.  I do agree with that if we can find something that works relatively easily.  

          Riley was doing fine on her current food (Fromm Highlander beef), she has these "incidents" when she gets a mouthful of something she shouldn't.  Last time it was muffins, this time it was popcorn.  I think the in-between time when she didn't end up at the vet (it wasn't as bad) it was a strawberry.

          • Well, there is zero fat in a strawberry. No possible way that could cause pancreatitis. Muffins could contain a good amount of fat, and popcorn would depend on the kind. Here we use microwave popcorn with a very low fat content. A dog can get an upset stomach from eating something she shouldn't, but pancreatitis usually involves a food that has a higher fat content. 
            Internal medicine specialists do a whole lot more than elimination trials, lol. Ultrasounds, for one thing. Specialized blood tests like GI panels.  

            • All good things to bring up with the vet re: low fat content foods bringing on the symptoms.   

              Riley definitely didn't get into a lot of high fat anything, it was literally a mouthful of popcorn (caramel popcorn) before I took the bowl away and grabbed what I could out of her mouth.  We don't typically leave anything lying around but our 7 year old is a bit forgetful sometimes.  

              • Well, caramel corn can be high in fat, relatively speaking. But it sounds like she got a very small amount and it really doesn't seem like that could cause pancreatitis. 

                • In Jane's discussion she said that chronic pancreatitis can masquerade as IBD... which I would assume goes the other way around too and IBD can masquerade as chronic pancreatitis.  

                  I think putting Riley on a lower fat, limited ingredient diet would help out with both possibilities so it's a bit of a no-brainer to me.  

  • Here's the discussion. Lots of good info here:

    After just going through a case of acute Pancreatitis with Guinness I thought it would be helpful to post the things that I've learned about this dis…
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