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Best Dog Food for Pancreatitis 2022: Our Top Picks to Manage Canine Pancreatitis

Best Dog Food For Pancreatitis

Occasionally, dogs can suffer from stomach upset. Sadly, some stomach problems can be serious and may not go away even after putting your dog on a bland diet for a week.

And one such painful condition is pancreatitis, which can range from mild to life-threatening. As a pet parent, choosing the best dog food for pancreatitis can make all the difference for your pup.

This serious medical condition can be influenced by your dog’s diet. If you constantly let your dog enjoy some food scraps from your dinner table, then, you may be putting him at risk for developing pancreatitis.

While the exact cause of pancreatitis is highly debated, studies have shown that this condition is more common in diabetic and obese dogs. And it’s not a secret that an unhealthy diet is the leading cause of these two weight-related risk factors.

Hence, it really pays to invest in your dog’s health and safety with the best commercial dog food or prescription diet. Of course, you should also refrain from giving or even tolerating your dog from snacking on salty and fatty table scraps.

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What’s The Pancreas and Why Is It Important?

The pancreas is an important bodily organ with several functions. It is made up of two types of tissues: the exocrine and endocrine tissues.

The exocrine tissue is responsible for the production and storage of amylase and lipase, two enzymes that play an integral part in the digestion of sugars, starches, and fats.

The endocrine tissue, on the other hand, is where several hormones used in different functions in the body are produced. The most well-known of these hormones are insulin and glucagon, which are both involved in the regulation of blood sugar levels in the body.

What Is Canine Pancreatitis?

Simply speaking, pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. And it can have a sudden onset, which is called “acute pancreatitis,” or it can develop over time, which is referred to as “chronic pancreatitis.”

Both of these types are serious medical conditions with the potential to be life-threatening. Hence, early diagnosis and timely medical treatment are important for a dog to have a good prognosis.

In healthy dogs, the pancreas releases digestive enzymes to the small intestines once your dog has eaten something. The enzymes help with the digestion of sugars, starches, and fats.

However, in dogs suffering from this condition, the enzymes start working even before they reach the small intestines, or even when your dog has not eaten. This can cause inflammation and extreme pain.

Best Dog Food for Pancreatitis [year]: Our Top Picks to Manage Canine Pancreatitis 1

Causes of Pancreatitis in Dogs

The exact cause of pancreatitis is not known, but dogs prone to scavenge or eat high fat foods are more at risk of acquiring the disease.

A high-fat meal like butter might be a threat. The risk is also high among dogs taking potassium bromide, phenobarbital, azathioprine, estrogen, diuretic, and cholinesterase inhibitor drugs for their health problems.

Other factors that contribute to the development of pancreatitis include infections, diabetes, hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, obesity, trauma, and shock.

Also, certain breeds like mini schnauzers and poodles, and some toy and terrier breeds, may have a certain predisposition.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

A dog with pancreatitis may experience different symptoms, but in most cases, he will have abdominal pain as manifested by an arched/hunched back, or a praying/bowing position. He may also experience persistent vomiting, loss of appetite, dehydration, weakness, fever, and a bloated stomach.

What to Look For in Dog Foods for Dogs With Pancreatitis?

Once your dog has been diagnosed with pancreatitis, you will need to change his diet to prevent future inflammation or acute attacks and to help with his recovery process. Depending on your dog’s condition and your vet’s findings, you may or may not need to put your dog on prescription food.

Here are some things that you need to look for when shopping for the best pet food for your dog with pancreatitis:

Low Fat

According to some studies, dietary fat has been a major factor that causes premature production of digestive enzymes. Unfortunately, fats have become incredibly common in dog foods and dog treats. You must buy dry dog foods with a fat percentage of about 9%.

If you are feeding your dog wet food, it should contain no more than 4% of fat content. The fat content must always be kept at a minimum.

Taking this into consideration, it's a practical and logical choice to choose foods aimed at losing weight for the obvious reason that these kibbles contain lower fat content than normal dog foods. Low-fat meals help in reducing workload and strain to the pancreas, which aids in its healing and recovery.

Protein

There's a common misconception that has been shared widely among dog owners that dogs with pancreatitis should eat lesser protein.

Apparently, it's a bad idea and causes problems. Proteins are essential nutritional components for dogs to maintain a healthy body and muscles. If your pup isn't getting enough protein, it will be harder for his body to fight the effects of the disease.

Simple Formulas

Since pancreatitis doesn't have a definitive cause, it's advisable to stick to simple recipes that contain identifiable ingredients. Unnecessary fillers and additives can increase inflammation symptoms in the pancreas. Stick with simple, easy-to-understand ingredients.

Also, a common mistake of owners is to completely change their dog's diet. Keeping low-fat meals for your dog is vital because it helps the body retain beneficial macronutrients. However, they also need vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients for optimal health.

Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes

During the recovery period, your dog's digestive system can get in bad or worse shape before it can start working normally again.

The presence of probiotics & beneficial enzymes may accelerate this process. Just like the presence of low-fat content in the diet, probiotics and digestive enzymes can also reduce the strain on the pancreas over time, which is beneficial for its speedy recovery.

Best Dog Food For Pancreatitis

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Best Dog Food for Pancreatitis [year]: Our Top Picks to Manage Canine Pancreatitis 2
Nom Nom
  • Customizable meals
  • Recipes made by experts
  • 50% off first order
50% Off First Order
Best Dog Food for Pancreatitis [year]: Our Top Picks to Manage Canine Pancreatitis 3
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Healthy Weight
  • Low-fat content
  • With L-carnitine
  • Real meat as #1 ingredient
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Best Dog Food for Pancreatitis [year]: Our Top Picks to Manage Canine Pancreatitis 4
American Journey Healthy Weight
  • Grain-free
  • Reduced calorie formula
  • Real chicken is #1 ingredient
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Best Dog Food for Pancreatitis [year]: Our Top Picks to Manage Canine Pancreatitis 5
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat
  • Contains low fat content
  • Veterinary-exclusive food
  • Helps manage GI health with omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA
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Best Dog Food for Pancreatitis [year]: Our Top Picks to Manage Canine Pancreatitis 6
Hill's Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care
  • Low fat formula
  • Created with highly digestible protein
  • Fortified with B vitamins and antioxidants
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  1. Nom Nom Fresh Pet Food
  2. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Healthy Weight
  3. American Journey Healthy Weight
  4. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat
  5. Hill's Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care
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1. Nom Nom Fresh Pet Food

Our rating: 5/5

Ingredients: Depends on the variant you choose

Best Dog Food for Pancreatitis [year]: Our Top Picks to Manage Canine Pancreatitis 7

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 10%
Crude Fat 6%
Crude Fiber 2%

Nom Nom is a gourmet pet food delivery service that provides pre-portioned custom-made meals based on your dog’s (or cat’s) dietary requirements.

Each meal that comes out of their facility is made with fresh, whole ingredients and targeted vitamins and minerals based on your dog’s nutritional needs.

What’s more, Nom Nom’s two top chefs are also top doctors who happened to be among the fewer than 100 Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionists in the US. So, you can be assured that your dog’s heath is in good hands.

To place an order on their website, all you have to do is provide your dog’s breed, his current and ideal body weight, as well his special needs or certain health issues (e.g. pancreatitis).

Out of their four recipes, we’d recommend that you go for the Beef Mash as it contains the lowest fat percentage. It also has a moderate protein level from high-quality animal protein, and high moisture content to keep your pup hydrated.

All of Nom Nom’s recipes are also grain-free and made using high quality ingredients that you can even try for yourself in case you are curious.

If you are not sure which recipe your dog will love, you can order the variety pack, which contains all the recipes. You can also try their two-week trial which gives you a 20% discount, and free shipping.

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Pros

  • Convenient
  • Made with organic, fresh ingredients
  • Recipes crafted by veterinary nutritionists
  • Customizable to your dog’s needs
  • Meals meet the AAFCO Food Nutrient Profiles
  • Ethically-produced
  • Delivered door-to-door
  • Offers a 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Made in USA facility kitchens in Tennessee and California

Cons

  • A bit pricey
  • Limited recipe options for picky eaters
  • Needs to be refrigerated

2. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Healthy Weight

Our rating: 5/5

First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Pea Fiber

Best Dog Food for Pancreatitis [year]: Our Top Picks to Manage Canine Pancreatitis 8

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 20%
Crude Fat 9%
Crude Fiber 12%

BLUE is crafted using only the finest ingredients: high-quality animal protein, no chicken by product meal, and no corn, wheat, or soy.

With 95% recommendations on Chewy and with over 1,200 reviews, this recipe is a sure winner to dogs and dog owners alike.

This recipe is formulated for dogs to live and thrive – it is made with real deboned chicken as the #1 ingredient, features only 9% fat, and is enriched with essential vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids. With each bite, your pup is sure to “woof” with delight.

Lastly, you will find plenty of vegetables, whole grains, garden veggies and fruit, plus added LifeSource Bits packed with glucosamine and chondroitin to support healthy joints, bones, and teeth as well. 

Pros

  • Features real meat as the first ingredient
  • Low-fat content
  • With L-carnitine and high-quality protein
  • No corn, wheat, soy or chicken (or poultry) by-product meals
  • Free of fillers that are difficult to digest and add workload to the pancreas
  • LifeSource Bits – BLUE’s exclusive blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to promote overall health and wellness

Cons:

  • Pea and potato starch contain little nutritional value

3. American Journey Healthy Weight Recipe

Our rating: 4.8/5

First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas

Best Dog Food for Pancreatitis [year]: Our Top Picks to Manage Canine Pancreatitis 9

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 30%
Crude Fat 10%
Crude Fiber 10%

Technically, this reduced calorie recipe isn’t the cheapest in the market, but it’s the most reasonable considering what it has to offer to your canine buddy.

Deboned chicken provides much of the flavor and the largest source of animal protein in this dog food recipe. Turkey and chicken meal lend supplemental protein while chicken fat offers a richer flavor into the mix.

Although it has slightly more calories than the salmon flavor, each cup of this recipe still offers a caloric content that is a good deal lower than that of the other ranges at 337 kcal per cup.

It also contains L-carnitine to support normal fat metabolism and promote lean muscle mass. What’s more, this recipe also uses easily digestible natural fiber to promote healthy digestion.

Pros:

  • Grain-free
  • Contains L-carnitine
  • Reduced calorie dog food
  • Anti-oxidant rich ingredients
  • Real chicken is the top ingredient
  • Crafted with glucosamine and chondroitin

Cons:

  • Some dogs don’t like its taste
  • Problem with poop consistency

4. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat

Our rating: 4.8/5

First 5 ingredients: Brewers Rice, Chicken By-Product Meal, Wheat, Barley, Natural Flavors

Best Dog Food for Pancreatitis [year]: Our Top Picks to Manage Canine Pancreatitis 10

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 20%
Crude Fat 5.5%
Crude Fiber 8.5%

This veterinary diet is specially formulated for dogs with difficulties digesting or tolerating fat.

Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Low Fat diet only contains 5.5% to 8.5% fat content making it an ideal choice for dogs with acute and chronic pancreatitis. It’s also fortified with essential nutrients and omega fatty acids from fish oil.

Although you can’t purchase it without a vet’s authorization, you can expect this product to be highly recommended for dogs with soft poop. 

It also contains well-balanced and easily digestible protein, fibers, as well as prebiotics, and EPA + DHA to help promote digestive health while also ensuring that they receive enough calories for their daily diet.

It has an astounding 98% acceptance rate. A great number of comments said that they liked the results of this dry dog food in their dogs. But there are a few that claimed it didn’t solve their pups’ digestive disorders, or that their dogs didn’t like it.

Pros:

  • Very low-fat content that's easy on the GI system
  • Enhanced with essential nutrients, 
  • With prebiotic fibers for digestive health
  • With a precise blend of antioxidants

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Contains grains and chicken by-products that could cause trigger reactions in some sensitive dogs

5. Hill's Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care

Our rating: 4.8/5

First 5 ingredients: Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Corn, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Egg Product

Best Dog Food for Pancreatitis [year]: Our Top Picks to Manage Canine Pancreatitis 11

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 22%
Crude Fat 10.5%
Crude Fiber 4%

Formulated by veterinarians, nutritionists, and food scientists, Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Low Fat Recipe provides low fat nutrition with highly digestible protein to manage the symptoms of pancreatitis and help prevent future attacks which can be triggered by a fatty meal.

This palatable chicken flavor recipe is fortified with Hill’s ActivBiome+ Technology, which helps promote beneficial gut bacteria activity and improve the quality of stool.

Each bite of this tasty kibble is also loaded with prebiotic fiber, and omega fatty acids to improve bowel movement and promote digestive health.

Pros:

  • With highly digestible protein
  • Improve nutrient absorption, digestion, and lower blood fat levels
  • With clinically-proven antioxidants to support immune health
  • Enriched with prebiotics and ginger

Cons:

  • A bit expensive
  • Some dogs don’t like it
  • Veterinary authorization is needed
Best Dog Food for Pancreatitis [year]: Our Top Picks to Manage Canine Pancreatitis 12

Other Related Questions

How to Prevent Pancreatitis in Dogs?

Pancreatitis is common in overweight dogs with a high fat diet, as well as in dogs that consume a high amount of fat in one sitting. Hence, it is important to avoid high fat foods to prevent overstimulating the pancreas. Doing so can also help dogs lose weight, which can be beneficial for the prevention of pancreatitis over time.

How is Pancreatitis Treated?

Pancreatitis can be difficult to handle as the dog’s prognosis for recovery depends on the severity of his illness at the time it was diagnosed. There’s also no home remedy for pancreatitis that dog owners can use in the comfort of their homes.

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Hence, if you suspect that your dog is suffering from this painful condition, you should take him to a licensed veterinarian immediately for proper diagnosis and immediate treatment.

Dogs with acute pancreatitis are usually admitted to the clinic and treated with intravenous fluid and medications for pain management and dehydration. The vet may also administer antiemetic medication, and withhold food for up to 24 hours while the pancreas recovers.

Dogs with chronic pancreatitis appear to be less ill, but still, the condition is serious with the potential to be life-threatening; and therefore, should be dealt with accordingly.

You can expect your vet to put your dog on a low fat diet for life. It is also possible for dogs with chronic pancreatitis to have occasional acute attacks that may need hospitalization.

Tips for Managing Pancreatitis With Diet

Generally, pancreatitis treatment for dogs involves eating low fat food, moderate levels of high quality animal proteins, as well as easily digestible carbohydrates and fibers.

They also need plenty of fluids along with their food. Apart from the best quality food, it is essential not to feed your pet too much food in one go. In the long run, with the proper diet, your dog can recover.

What Foods Trigger Pancreatitis in Dogs?

As mentioned earlier, fatty foods can trigger pancreatitis in dogs. And even if a high-fat meal didn’t cause your dog’s initial acute attack, it doesn’t mean that eating too much fat won’t trigger a recurrence of pancreatitis in the future.

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Conclusion

While there’s no definitive cure for canine pancreatitis, a lot of dogs recover with the help of appropriate supportive treatment and a low-fat diet.

Depending on your dog’s condition by the time of diagnosis, your vet may or may not put him on a prescription diet. However, with acute pancreatitis, there’s a higher chance that a veterinary diet is ideal considering that it contains the least amount of fat.

Once your dog recovers from the acute attack, you can transition him to regular low-fat dog food for life to prevent relapse in the future.

Since pancreatitis is a painful and serious medical condition, it’s always best to seek veterinary advice before switching to a new kibble or canned food.

Best Dog Food for Pancreatitis [year]: Our Top Picks to Manage Canine Pancreatitis 13
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