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Pancreatitis in Dogs & Cats

by Darleen Rudnick, B.S.W., M.H.N., Certified Holistic Nutritionist

The pancreas is an elongated, tapered gland that is located behind the stomach. The exocrine area of the pancreas produces digestive juices and the endocrine area makes hormones, such as insulin, that regulates how the body stores and uses food.

Specific Types of Pancreatitis include:


Chronic Pancreatitis (inflammation)

Chronic pancreatitis can be caused by hemochromatosis (a condition of excess iron in the blood), a poor diet and many other factors. Inflammation and fibrosis cause the destruction of functioning glandular tissue in the pancreas. This results in an inability to properly digest fat, caused by a lack of pancreatic enzymes. The production of insulin is also affected. Attacks may become more frequent as the condition progresses.

As the pancreas becomes progressively more scarred, some pets may develop diabetes and/or inability to digest foods, especially fats.

Symptoms of chronic pancreatitis can include, but are not limited to:

  • Moderate to severe abdominal pain

  • Nausea

  • Fever

  • Reduced mental acuteness

  • Abdominal swelling

  • Weight loss

  • Fatty stools


Acute Pancreatitis (inflammation)

The chief causes of acute pancreatitis may be caused from an on-going or long-term viral infection, poor diet, stress and from certain medications. Symptoms of acute pancreatitis are similar to chronic pancreatitis.


  • Abdominal pain

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Weakness

  • Anxiety Fever

  • Abdominal fullness, gaseous Abdominal indigestion

  • Chills

  • Fatty stools

  • Anxiety

  • Weight loss


Prevention Plan For Treating Pancreatitis Naturally

A prevention plan is a simple method of enhancing the level of nutrition and making lifestyle changes. It is an attempt to address any special needs your pet may have.

Keep in mind that this program does not apply to every pet and therefore it is important to have your pet thoroughly examined by a veterinarian. If you decide to seek natural methods, For Pet Health recommends a pet consultation with our on-staff nutritionist.

consultation will include a personalized diet and holistic program suggestions, all custom-tailored to your pet's personal needs. This is particularly imperative in pets with complicated health issues, or if you've done outside reading and have conflicting information.

Feed What is Right for Your Pet

The most important thing to remember when choosing a food for your pet is to choose a food that is right for YOUR pet, not what other people think is right. Raw diets are great, and home cooking is wonderful, but if your pet doesn't do well on it, then you shouldn't continue feeding it.

Some pets suffering from Pancreatitis do very well on a BARF (raw) diet, others do well on a home cooked diet and others only do well on dry or canned food. Every case is different, so it is a matter of experimenting and sticking to what works best. There IS NOT one diet that works for every pet.

In many cases, feeding a very simple diet helps. Diets that seem to be beneficial are chicken and one vegetable, or ground meat and one vegetable. Some pets only do well when brown or white rice is added to the diet. In other cases a high quality dry food can be beneficial.

Structure Meal Times

It is very important to feed small amounts of food and frequent meals. Feeding once a day may lead to many health problems such as hypoglycemia, diabetes, obesity, and digestive disorders.

When you feed one meal a day, your pet's body produces insulin. Insulin prevents fat cells from releasing fat into the bloodstream, where it can be picked up by other tissues and burned. In other words, high levels of insulin cause low levels of fat burning and high levels of fat storing, the reverse of what you may think. When insulin is not stable in the body, it throws the hormones and brain chemicals out of whack and in turn the body starts storing fat to save itself.

Therefore, it is extremely important to feed 4-5 times a day. When you feed several small meals a day, the body burns fat more effectively.

Recommended feeding schedule:

Breakfast: High quality pet food or homemade food.

Lunch: High quality pet food or homemade food.

Midday: Light Snack.

Dinner: High quality pet food or homemade food.

Before bed: Light snack.

For Pet Health does not recommend discontinuing traditional medications cold turkey or discontinuing them at all. This is YOUR decision based on how the following program works. We highly recommend you work closely with your veterinarian. Although medications can be very effective, some may cause side effects that can eventually lead to other symptoms. Many pet owners are now looking into other methods of treating Pancreatitis.


Rule out a Parasite Infestation

A parasite infestation is a very common problem with dogs and cats. Symptoms of an infestation are -- vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, inability to absorb nutrients, bad breath, skin problems, chronic ear infections, yeast infections, foul odor to the stool, and many other minor and major ailments.

Giardia is a gastrointestinal infection caused by a microscopic parasite called Giardia lamblia. This is a common parasite causing gastrointestinal illness. It is found in the stools of many animals, including rodents, dogs, cats, cattle, and wild animals.

A Giardia infection can be acquired when your pet ingests food or water that has been contaminated with the parasite. It then multiplies in the small intestine. The infection can also be spread person-to-person when hands, which are contaminated with an infected person's stool, are brought in contact with the mouth. Swallowing as few as ten parasites can cause the infection.

Symptoms of Giardia are very similar to Pancreatitis symptoms, so it is essential that your pet be tested for this parasite. This test is normally not done by your veterinarian, so you need to request it. This simple and inexpensive test can save you hundreds of dollars and invasive testing.

Giardia is usually diagnosed through a laboratory examination of a stool sample. Your veterinarian will forward the stool sample to a laboratory that will use a microscope to look for the parasite. Several stool samples need to be examined to detect the parasite.

Eliminate Toxins in the House, Yard and on your Pet

It is important to put as little stress on the body as possible by avoiding toxins that may deplete the immune system.

Avoid the following:

  • Carpet powders

  • Air fresheners Fumes from all bathroom cleaners Fumes from bleach Fumes from dusting products

  • Toxic flea products - If the product states "Hazardous To Humans And Domestic Animals", it is hazardous to your pet

  • Toxic shampoos

  • Toxic flea collars

  • Paint fumes

  • Paint chips from lead based paint

  • Rawhides - Many are dipped in a solution of salt and bleach

  • Cheap painted pet toys

  • Red food dye

  • Ethoxyquin

  • Additives in food

Use Bottled Water

Toxic metals such as lead, copper, mercury, and aluminum are often found in drinking water and some pets are very sensitive to these metals.

Exercise Your Pet Daily

Exercise increases the efficiency of the immune system and helps with muscle development, digestion and overall health. A well-conditioned body will work and perform better and increase the ability to carry blood and oxygen to muscles. Exercising burns fat and increases your pet's metabolism.

Be sure your pet gets at least an hour of exercise everyday. However, age, health and weather should be taken into consideration when exercising. Do NOT over exercise older pets, or pets suffering from hypoglycemia, epilepsy, heart problems, during bouts of diarrhea, etc. Pets suffer from exhaustion just as humans do.

Conclusion and Tips for Treating Pancreatitis

During bouts of diarrhea, Pedialyte and baby food may help. Plain yogurt replenishes the intestinal tract with friendly bacteria and does help in some cases. Rice can be helpful for bouts of diarrhea, but this is not true in all cases.

Large breeds that eat off the floor from a bowl are forced to gulp down their food and this may cause bloating and slow down digestion. Raising the food bowl for them eases the digestive process and causes less discomfort.

  • Feed small, simple meals throughout the day

  • Test for Giardia and other parasites at least 3-4 times

  • Eliminate any food or supplement which seems to upset the digestive tract or aggravate the symptoms

  • Exercise your pet regularly as this helps with digestion

  • Give supplements to strengthen the immune system and most importantly give digest enzymes before or during each meal Avoid using toxins on or around your pet Offer bottled water.


IMPORTANT!  The recommendations in this article are general suggestions for treating your pet naturally.  It is important to look at each pet individually and determine what works best for YOUR pet. 

phone consultation is highly recommended.  A consultation will include a personalized diet and holistic program suggestions, all custom-tailored to your pet's personal needs. This is particularly imperative in pets with complicated health issues, or if you've done outside reading and have conflicting information.

Contact For Pet Health today and get your loved one on the path to good health.  

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