Tips for Pancreatitis- Advice from a Boxer Parent
Pancreatitis can be a common digestive disorder among the Boxer breed. It is where the digestive enzymes of the pancreas begin to attack the organ itself instead of the fats and proteins they are intended to break down. While direct causes may be difficult to figure out, it is mostly due to an improper, high fat diet.
Due to the pancreas having a prominent role in fat digestion, a lot of triggers for pancreatitis are fat related. Symptoms of possible pancreatitis include: diarrhea, yellow stool, gas, frequent needs to go to bathroom, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, lethargy and possible fever. If your boxer seems to be experiencing these symptoms, immediately take them to the vet where a blood test can be performed to confirm. Depending on severity of the pancreatitis, fluid injections or even hospitalization may be required.
So there is a positive diagnosis. Now what? Well, this is a lifestyle change for your dog and as the owner, there is a necessity for more attention to detail when it comes to food and treats. Your vet will most likely recommend to place your dog on a low fat diet for the rest of their life. Unfortunately, most dry dog foods found in stores don’t have a fat content lower than 12% and this is too high for a dog with pancreatitis. Your vet will also be inclined to prescribe a low fat dog food (usually at 8% or lower but depends on the dog). An example would be Royal Canin Gastrointestinal. Treats also need to be low fat. Milkbone has a good variety of treats with fat percentages below 8%, jerky treats and Milo brand are just a few examples but there are many out there. Some supplements may be prescribed by the vet as well such a Vitamin B12 injections or digestive enzymes to aid with the pancreatic functions.
What human foods would be ok to give a dog with pancreatitis? While every dog is different, these are common low fat foods that could be given as treats or part of their diet: Non-fat cottage cheese, boiled chicken breast, cooked sweet potatoes, white rice, watermelon, salmon, 100% pumpkin puree, 100% greek yogurt, frozen non-salted chicken stock cubes and boiled carrots. Examples of foods that definitely should be removed from the diet: Peanut butter, bones with marrow, dark chicken meat, pork and table scraps.
What happens if your dog accidentally gets a hold of something high in fat? This could easily happen and as long as your dog doesn't suffer from a severe case, it is something that can be managed. Your dog will probably have diarrhea, gas (most likely a smell you'll want to forget) and vomiting. In this case, do not feed them for about 12 hours. When it is time to eat again, provide them with a small amount of boiled chicken and rice and pumpkin puree if possible. If they use digestive enzymes, add those to the food as well. Make sure they get plenty of fluids. Slowly increase food amount and add back their dry food over the next 24 hours until they are back to their normal routine.
This post is written due to experience of having a boxer with pancreatitis. However, each dog is different and it is important to always consult with your veterinarian about proper diet, medications and ways to handle pancreatitis episodes in order to meet your boxers needs.