My toy poodle, Milo, had Pancreatitis the end of May. A few years ago he was diagnosed with Wheat Allergies and our vet at the time recommended Natures Recipe Grain Free Dry Dog Food. He had been eating that food for years without any issues. He is prone to occasional ear infections. He has been seeing his current vet for less then a year. When he came home from the hospital after the pancreatitis, the vet sent him home with Royal Canin dog food and the tech at the vet said that after he was finished eating the Royal Canin they sent me home with, that he could go back to eating his regular pet food. He just need to not eat anything that was high in fat or salt. My poodle is big. He weighs about 17lbs. He is not overweight for his size, just a big poodle. A neighbor was feeding him pig ears without our knowledge so I thought perhaps this had caused the Pancreatitis. Anyway, I tried to put him back on his regular food and he refused to eat it. It was a dry kibble. I brought this to the vets attention and at that time they said they wanted him to remain on Royal Canin. I purchased a case without reading the ingredients first and I couldn’t believe I was feeding this to my pet. Milo has changed eating this food. He is constantly hungry. He begs for food, pesters you until you give him something more to eat and he has begun to scratch non-stop. He has been getting non-stop ear infections, biting and licking his paws and has very loose stool. I have left dry food down for him to eat, but he will not eat it. The symptoms he shows with the ears and biting/licking are usually signs I have seen in him in the past when he had food allergies. I returned to the vet and they did not think this was a big deal. The vet tech actually commented that it sounds like my dog likes the Royal Canin. (um, no I don’t think so either) They gave me more prednisone and told me to give him 1 Benadryl, twice a day, every day.
On the Benadryl, all Milo does is sleep. He acts spaced out. He is still scratching like crazy. I have read so much information on so many topics that my head is spinning. I feel so bad for my little guy and I am at a loss as to what to do for him. I have looked into different pet foods, but most of the high quality foods that are grain free are loaded with starch or fat. Any advice anyone could give me would be so much appreciated. I have tried diluted vinegar rinses and it seems to help for the night, but the next day he is back to scratching non stop. Is there any foods out there that are low fat, with no starch and no grains? I have tried a few brands that have quality ingredients, but I have found they have a lot of starch (potatoes, sweet potatoes, in gravy) and while he has enjoyed the food, it is not helping with the itching. I would prefer ingredients that are ok for human consumption (I don’t want to eat it, but I want him to have the best). I have tried MyPerfectPet, but it is loaded with potatoes and he has scratched even more. I have read so much that my head is spinning and I am at a loss. I just want him to be happy and healthy. Thanks again in advance.
Yipes. Royal Canin has issues, to be sure. Although I must confess I don’t much care for Nature’s Recipe either. I mean, the ingredients aren’t all that bad, but our dogs hated it.
Anyway, so a question for you. What caused the pancreatitis, or do you not know for certain? It’s usually related to something overly high in fat. I wouldn’t think a pigs ear would make much difference, but I suppose anything is possible. What concerns me though is your neighbor feeding your dog without your knowledge, period. How do you know if that’s all the neighbor was feeding him?
Whatever the case, I would definitely stop the RC food. Have you taken a look at this:
I swear by Wellness. That stuff is amazing BUT it does have starches. As you can see it’s a 5-star food here, so that may act as a relief for you. Not sure.
It sounds like he’s intolerant of something in the food he’s eating currently. My dog with food intolerance issues gets an ear infection in his right ear when he’s expose to his triggers. I’d look for a lower fat, more limited ingredient canned food (if possible) like Weruva Human Style or Addiction. Take a look at this article: https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/best-dog-foods/suggested-low-fat-dog-food/
I’d also take a look at this thread: https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/forums/topic/dry-dog-food-with-low-salt-and-low-fat/
A poster, Gina, in that thread shared a list of foods that she researched that were low fat and low sodium. The list is limited to those brands she researched, but might be a good starting place.
I completely feel for you – it can be overwhelming trying to digest all the information out there when you just want to make your pup feel better! I had a Golden Retriever who had a bout of pancreatitis, and I learned a lot in the process – maybe some of it can help you.
First I had some concerns about Milo reading your post – and I want to address them without sounding preachy or condescending, so please understand that I am approaching this as if you have the level of knowledge that I had when it happened to my dog (very little knowledge). So forgive me if some of this is just plain simplistic and maybe obvious.
I never learned what caused the pancreatitis in my dog – there are theories, but the best experts I talked to said it could have been just plain old bad luck. What there seems to be agreement among the experts is that, once a dog has a single an episode of pancreatitis, everything changes – dietary needs, vaccine protocol, immune support, medication sensitivity, everything… FOR LIFE. That sucks, right? But it’s assumed that the pancreas is now more fragile or less efficient than it once was, and the goal becomes avoiding another bout of pancreatitis.
So you’re already working on the first step – which is diet; low protein, highly digestible, etc. etc. Essentially, a diet that doesn’t stress out his pancreas.
A compromised pancreas essentially means a problem in the digestive tract, which is why I wanted to respond to you. Digestive problems are often tied to things you are describing in Milo, like food sensitivity, itchy skin, loose bowels, yeast infections & immune deficiency. A healthy pancreas releases digestive enzymes into the digestive tract which then help to breakdown the good food you feed him so that his body can utilize all those wonderful nutrients. So the first step that you are already tackling, “what high quality food can I use?” is critical! Unfortunately, I don’t know – I feed homemade – but I trust that you will get some wisdom from this site & through your research will get that answer. But the NEXT steps are equally important, and here’s where I hope my experience can help you.
Part of the dietary changes you must make is supplementing with pancreatic enzymes. Ask your vet or do some research. I used a formula that was specifically recommended for my dog based on tests run by his endocrinologist – and my dog was a 90 pound, 14 year old Golden – so I can’t tell you what’s right for Milo. However, I can tell you that minimally, Dr. Pitcairn’s book says just pick up a human grade digestive enzyme from the vitamin store and give ½ capsule with each meal. That would be better than nothing.
Without proper food digestion, the best, highest quality diet won’t give Milo the nutrients he needs. So don’t skip this step.
Next, vaccine protocol. Dogs with compromised pancreas should follow a more “minimal” vaccine protocol. Ask your vet, or google Dr. Jean Dodd’s vaccine protocol to get additional information.
Immune support: here’s where I think Milo really would benefit from your research and discussions with your vet. The food symptoms you describe (itchy skin, loose stools, yeast imbalance, etc.) sound to me like two things going on: 1) problems in the gut – which will be dealt with thru diet & supplements; and 2) a weak immune system. The skin is a wonderful organ for telling us when our dogs’ immune systems are struggling. A dog with a healthy immune system will be pretty resilient when it comes to yeast & other skin flare ups. A balanced complete diet, fully digested with the help of enzymes may go a long way toward giving him relief – but you probably need to look into some immune support supplements to help him recover initially. Ask your vet, or look into having his immune system tested at http://www.hemopet.org the lab report will include a review by Dr. Dodds who can suggest a specific immune support protocol for Milo. I used Moducare (Thorne Labs) plus other specific herbs & vitamins.
Medication sensitivity: And here is where you are not going to like me…Prednisone is not something I would give to a dog 30 days after pancreatitis. I absolutely understand why it was prescribed (to make your itchy dog less miserable), and frankly, I don’t know of any substitute that will do the trick. The problem is, Prednisone is a corticosteroid and can actually trigger a bout of pancreatitis. It is absolutely not safe for Milo right now…sorry. Google it or ask your vet if this seems like questionable advise – but I can’t stress enough, NO PREDNISONE.
I hope you take this in the spirit offered – advice from a fellow pet owner who adores her pets. And hope Milo is on the mend soon!
Very helpful post, Corinne. Lots of valuable information and definitely not “preachy or condescending” whatsoever! It’s great that we can share and learn from each other what we’ve gained through our experiences here.
Thank you, everyone for answering my post. To be honest with you, I never really researched dog foods until he ended up with Pancreatitis. We have always had poodles and none of them ever had issues until Milo. It was when the Pancreatitis happened, that I found this site and began to truly research dog foods. I agree with you magnoliasouth that Natures Recipe is not the best food. I really do not feel right feeding him something I can not eat and is not the best after educating myself on what is truly in pet foods. Truly, I do not know what caused the attack, I am just going by what the vet said, that pig ears are high in fat. Milo had only eaten his grain free dog food, grain free treats and a pig ear before his attack. My neighbors were aware of his allergies and I have again made it clear that he is to have nothing to eat. The vet said that it would be hard to determine exactly what caused the attack, they are just speculating the pig ear is the cause of it. As for the Royal Canin, i stopped it within about 2 days of purchasing the case of it from the vet. I now realize that the vet promotes that junk.
I have looked at the list of low fat/low sodium on here but I am still worried that some of them may still be too high in fat for him. My other worry is with a lot of the limited ingredient diets, there is a lot of starchy foods instead of grain, which promotes yeast. I am still working my way through the list and was not aware of the other thread with the low fat/low sodium foods, so I will look at that as well.
Corinne, your post has been so helpful to me, with lots of information. I do not feel it was preachy at all, but very very helpful. Unfortanately, I am not at all happy with my vet. There answer was and still is “royal canin”. Most of the time, I am speaking with a tech. My vet has dismissed my concerns about Milo’s food allergies and continually states that it’s “season allergies”. Not to seem more knowledgeable then the vet, but I know how Milo acts when he is having a food allergy. I am looking for another vet in the meantime. I did give Milo some Benadryl, but I did not give him the Prednisone after the attack. I honestly didn’t know it could cause Pancreatitis, and I am now wondering why the vet did not know this as well. They actually gave him Prednisone for another issue in April, so I am wondering now if that is what caused the pancreatitis.
With all my recent research, I did read about the pancreatic enzyme, which I am starting to give him. I would love to fed him a homemade diet w/ supplements. Another area I have read a lot about. Corinne, is there any pointers you can give me? Or maybe steer me in the right direction of recipes, supplements, etc. to begin dong this? Also, I have read that Chicken and Rice diet is ok to feed him, while I know it is not balanced, would it be ok to feed him this diet until I have his food situation under control?
You have given me so much direction, I am very thankful and plan on getting to work on as much as I can right away.
I have no information to share with you, but wanted to wish you and your pup well! It sounds like he is in good hands.
I enjoyed reading your post. Your information was very informative! My Hoof Care Specialist has a small dog with pancreatitis and I will be sharing some of your info with her. Thank you for sharing.
I’m so glad to hear that the info was helpful – I remember how hard & overwhelming it was for me to learn about pancreatitis when it my dog was going through it. So it’s nice to know that someone else can make use of what I learned. I’m sorry to her about your experience with the vet – I think I just lucked out with mine. But I don’t want to leave you with the impression that your vet did anything wrong in prescribing Prednisone, because I think that it’s something that is widely used to treat specific problems, but just like any drug or herbal remedy, there are times & cases when it’s just better to avoid it – an argument could be made that giving your dog a corticosteroid so that he’s not in constant misery from the itchiness is a compassionate thing to do. The flip side is, there are risks associated with using it and if the “itchies” can be eliminated through diet & supplements maybe that’s worth trying.
I also don’t know why they are pushing Royal Canin – maybe they’ve had other dogs do well on it and think it’s the right thing for Milo. But I agree with you, if you suspect it’s triggering allergies it’s worthwhile to look at other foods.
My dog’s are doing great on what I feed them – I alternate between homecooked, home-prepare raw, and commercially prepare raw. But here’s the thing – I only started doing this about 4 years ago because one of my dogs had a blown-out immune system & I had to learn how to feed him in a way that was anti-inflammatory, avoided chemicals, avoided allergens, etc. etc. And to be honest, I have made mistakes along the way that could have done more harm than good (for example, I got the phosphorus/calcium ratio totally wrong for awhile and only discovered it after labwork came back with creatinine levels waaaaay high – I could have caused kidney failure in my dogs if that had not been caught & corrected). And I still consider myself to be learning – so I keep a close eye on them and read everything I can get my hands on and keep it simple and safe. I will do some research for you & report back what I find, but in the meantime, keep up your search for a nutritionally complete & balanced high-quality commercial food that meets the requirements for Milo’s pancreas.
I do think a simple boiled chicken & rice diet is useful when dogs are sick – fewer ingredients to upset their system. But, the recommended fat ratio for a dog with damaged pancreas is REALLY specific so I would only home cook right now if I knew for certain that the recipe I used was safe in terms of fat ratio. The recipe I used after Max had pancreatitis was formulated for me to deal with his other issues but I’ll look for info on a basic safe recipe for you.
BTW: Thanks to the other posters who found my post helpful. I learn so much from you all and from this website! I really appreciate the resources & people here!
Oh – one more thing: you said above that some of the foods you found so far looked promising but you were concerned maybe still too high in fat. I remembered something when I read that…somewhere online years ago I found an article written by Mary Straus that I have kept in my files. It talked about how to calculate “low fat” vs. “very low fat”, etc. and also explains that dogs need *some* fat in order to digest fat-soluble vitamins. I was able to locate the original article again online ( it’s from 2008) and here’s a link to it…it’s a good article. http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/11_12/features/Healthy-Low-Fat-Dog-Foods_16088-1.html
I am going to agree with your vet on the cause-Pig ears are a huge no no for many breeds of dogs that are prone to pancreatitis, so definetly would be for one who had an attack. Very high fat content. What was the fat content of what you were feeding him before? You may have said and I missed it. Right after an attack, one does need to heavily restrict the fat etc in order to allow the pancreas to rest and reduce inflammation. Most vets will say restrict the fat content from this point forward to 10-12% MAXIMUM, not minimum. Good luck finding foods that report a guaranteed minimum, lol.
As an owner of mini schnauzers for 25 plus years, I have dealt with it more times than I wished to. Schnauzers are very prone to pancreatitis and severe attacks at that. I was a good sheep and followed the protocol. And what that got me was a bunch of schnauzers who were more fat sensitive than ever. I only had one that continued to have fat content issues, and we went with Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy weight for her, with some other brands mixed in for variety. The rest of the crew were transitioned SLOWLY to various brands, and types and they are “safe” up to about 16.5% total fat in a meal. If I wish to feed them say Acana grassland which is 17% fat, then I mix it with Lamb/Apple which is 15% fat. You get the idea.
These days, I feed a combination of dry,canned, dehydrated and homemade raw(they did well on Natures Variety Instinct raw as well-but like anything else watch the fat content) When I make raw, I use lean meats-skinless chicken, lean beef etc and so far, no issues. My point being while you have to be conscious of fat content, each dog has an upper threshold and it may take a bit of research to find yours. Just remember to do everything very slowly, and don’t go crazy and think Milo can have 17 or 18 percent fat because other dogs do. good luck-Melissa
just finding this post now, hope your pup is doing well. i too, have a dog with food allergies who is prone to pancreatitis. wellness core reduced fat is a life saver, literally. comes in wet and dry formulas. my dog literally CANNOT eat anything else. pricey, but higher quality ingredients than rc, and honestly if it saves your dog’s pancreas and skin, its worth it. good luck.
I want to share (and hear if anyone has also had success) – I have a cocker that has suffered with the never-ending circle of allergy, yeast and bacterial infections. Constant, licking, scratching, biting – vets, groomers, dermatologists. The battle has been ongoing and super, super expensive. I just happened to try out some probiotics with her last course of antibiotics and noticed an incredible improvement with her skin. She didn’t follow with her usual yeast skin issue and I have kept her on a different brand – called probiotic miracle I purchased from Amazon – and her skin is the best ever. She no longer scratches, incredible. Her skin is not black and sore, it is a healthy pink. And her ears don’t even need cleaning at all, as opposed to everyday. It really is incredible. She has been eating lots of different foods, as opposed to her strict allergy/yeast diet and I would also like to know if anyone has similar findings? I hope it can work for all of your doggie out there. The result for me has been outstanding so I wanted to share.
If you need low fat food – vets have a low residue canned food that does not taste bad. It is low fat and is supposed to help with Pancreatitis as well. I have used Iams before but there are also other brands available.
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My 17 year old Bull Terrier has had severe grass allergies her entire life. Did everything, foot soaks, medications, etc. She also is prone to pancreatitis and has had digestive issues. I began giving her Kerfir this spring and so far, no allergy symptoms. Her feet are perfectly normal. Research leaky gut syndrome, at least in my Lucy’s case, I believe this was the basis of her problems and the probiotics in Kerfir have so far eliminated them. I also cook for her and have done so since the 2007 dog food disaster. Hope this helps you.
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