What to Feed a Dog With Pancreatitis

Taking care of our pets is important to ensure they lead healthy lives. But, what can you do if your dog is diagnosed with a disease such as acute or chronic pancreatitis? How do you know what to feed a dog with pancreatitis?

This can make living painful for dogs as they have no way of dealing with such problems themselves. So, they depend on their owners for help.

If your dog has pancreatitis, how can you help it? Well, keeping their diet in check is one of the most effective and recommended ways to tackle such a disease.

Read on to learn about what to feed your dog with pancreatitis.

What Is Pancreatitis?

dog at the vet

Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. This organ is made of two different tissues – the exocrine and the endocrine. The exocrine is responsible for creating and storing digestive enzymes such as lipase and amylase. The endocrine is the tissue that produces hormones such as glucagon and insulin.

Pancreatitis happens when the enzymes stored no longer remain inactive and end up causing self-digestion of the pancreas. The enzymes may also end up in the blood circulation. This leads to the fat and proteins in other organs being broken down by the enzymes released. This can be extremely painful for your dog.

Eating regular dog food might also worsen the issue and so, keeping your dog on a regulated diet that can help ease the problem is essential. Let’s take a look at what to feed a dog with pancreatitis.

What to Feed a Dog Diagnosed With Pancreatitis?

child with dog on couch

Sharing snacks with your dog that has pancreatitis is a bit tricky as you can’t feed it all types of snacks. One of the favorite snacks our furry friends like is popcorn. Although popcorn is safe if fed in small amounts, you must make sure it is free of seasonings like salt, oil, butter, or sugar.

Their life stage, body weight, and body condition score determine what to feed dogs as they need different nutrients in their diet with age.

Let’s take a look at the different types of foods you can consider giving to your dog with pancreatitis.

Homemade Food

A lot of dog owners prefer making the food themselves for their pets as it lets them maintain what’s in their diet easily. Although it might be time-consuming, it leads to a natural and healthy lifestyle.

You should consult a veterinary nutritionist to know how to make food with the right amount of fat and vitamins for your dog. Furthermore, although homemade, some foods can be hazardous for your dog. Hence, consulting a vet about your dog’s diet is a must!

Commercial Food

Commercial dog food is known to be balanced and healthy for dogs. However, for a dog with pancreatitis, you must do research on the ingredients that the manufacturer uses.

There is a wide variety of kibble available in the market and premium brands produce a higher quality of food with the right nutrients. A veterinarian will be able to help identify whether the dog food is safe or not for your dog with pancreatitis.

Prescription & Veterinary Diets

What better food to give your dog than the diet plan given to you by a certified vet? A veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist can give you diet recommendations for the pancreatic needs of your dog specifically, such as what percentage of each content they’ll need.

Food Factors to Keep in Check

dog eating dog food out of slow feeder bowl

Now that we have talked about the different pet food types, let’s get into the factors you need to keep in mind when feeding your pet. For a dog with pancreatitis, you need to follow dietary restrictions.

The pancreas is the part of the body’s digestive system that is responsible for producing digestive enzymes. So, feeding your dog foods that are easily digestible for the body is a must!

Hence, healthy bio-ingredients that don’t strain the digestive system are key for letting your dog heal from the inflammation in its pancreas. You should check if the ingredients are hypoallergenic and clearly labeled so that you know that it’s safe for the digestive system.

Consider the factors below when thinking about what to feed your dog with pancreatitis.


With inflammation in the pancreas, it has a difficult time fulfilling its role of breaking down fats that the dog ingests. Hence, if you reduce the fat intake, this takes a huge toll away from the pancreas.

However, fat is a necessity for the body to function properly. Low-grade vegetable fats are not uncommon in dog food but may add to the problems of the pancreas.

Instead, it would be best if you gave them a low-fat diet. Look for high-quality animal fats. The fat content should be between 5-10 percent in the form of dry food.


Sugar is a substance that causes quite a few problems for dogs. This is especially the case for dogs that are suffering from pancreatitis and so, you should keep sugary goods away from them.


Digesting proteins is also another critical function of the pancreas. You can reduce the toll by avoiding foods that are rich in protein. That being said, plant-based protein ingredients are not always high quality, so they are not the preferred protein sources for your dog.

Quality should be the focus instead of quantity when it comes to a healthy protein supply. High-end meaty goods will keep your dog healthy while easing the problem of pancreatitis. The protein intake should be no more than 20 to 30 percent of dry matter.


Avoid food with a lot of starch such as rice, potatoes, pea starch, etc. as it is essential to keeping the pancreas from getting overwhelmed.

Possible Causes of Pancreatitis

dog eyeing food on a picnic table

Knowing what to feed a dog with pancreatitis is important for a healthy recovery, but it also helps you prevent the disease from recurring. Remember that being overweight and eating high-fat content are some of the most notable causes of pancreatitis.

Furthermore, other medical conditions may also make your dog prone to pancreatitis. These medical issues include Cushing’s disease, diabetes mellitus, and abnormal levels of high-fat levels present in the blood.

Additionally, some medications and toxins can also cause this disease. These substances include zinc, phenobarbital, and potassium bromide.

If the dog has experienced acute pancreatitis before, then there is a chance of recurrence as well. Some breeds are also more prone to pancreatitis such as Yorkshire terriers, silky terriers, and miniature schnauzers.

Symptoms of Pancreatitis

why do dogs twitch in their sleep

In the case of pancreatitis, you need to identify the disease quickly so that you can consult a DVM for medical advice and treatment. Signs of pancreatitis include:

  • vomiting
  • fever
  • lethargy
  • lack of appetite
  • diarrhea
  • enlargement of the abdomen area
  • abdominal pain

If your dog experiences these symptoms, then it’s time to take them to a vet and check if they have a case of acute or chronic pancreatitis.

Acute vs. Chronic Pancreatitis

What is the difference between the two forms of this disease? Acute pancreatitis is sudden and has the chance to severely harm other organs. It is known to last around a few days if you seek treatment immediately.

On the other hand, chronic pancreatitis develops over time and doesn’t show signs or symptoms often. This can occur from several episodes of acute pancreatitis.

Treatment and Prevention

dog at vet office

IV fluid therapy, constant monitoring, and medication for vomiting and dehydration while keeping the pancreas well-rested are all treatment methods for this medical condition.

Additionally, feed the dog in small amounts and avoid fatty foods. The pancreatic enzymes produced should also be checked via blood test by the vets to prevent this disease.

Supplements are also a possible prevention method for this condition. A healthy diet, physically fit condition, proper vaccination, and lots of exercises are all helpful in preventing this disease.


woman and greyhound on walk

Your dog is constantly relying on you not only for love and affection but also for its physical fitness.

Remember that if you neglect the signs mentioned above, it could be fatal for your dog if it has pancreatitis and you’re not aware. Pancreatitis is a life-threatening condition.

After all, they bring so much happiness to your life so it’s only fair that you treat them right! We hope that this article has helped you get a better understanding of what to feed a dog with pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis FAQs

1.   How many times should you feed a dog with pancreatitis?

If your dog has pancreatitis, you should feed your dog about 4-5 times a day in small quantities.

2.   What foods should you avoid giving a dog with pancreatitis?

High-fat diets like red meat, organ meat, potato and starchy foods, sugary goods, table scraps, and dairy fats are all to be avoided when your dog is diagnosed with pancreatitis.