Pancreatitis in Dogs – The Cause Is Carbohydrates And Processed Food, Not Fat!

The pancreas has two roles. It produces digestive juices, regulation of the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates and enzymes which are released into the duodenum for the use in the digestive process.

It also produces growth regulating hormones and sugars which are released into the bloodstream, contributing to endocrine function. The pancreas produces 10 different hormones. The two most important ones are insulin and glucagon.

The digestion process occurs primarily in the stomach with absorption occurring in the small intestine, but both these functions rely on the digestive juices secreted by the exocrine pancreas for complete digestion and vital nutrient absorption.

The juices that are produced in the pancreas are mostly water, salt and sodium bicarbonate, which neutralises the acidity of food and acid in the stomach before entering the small intestine for absorption. The pancreatic enzymes also released with the juices help to finish the digestive process. How well the food has been digested in the stomach relates to the volume of digestive enzymes needing to be produced by the pancreas to complete the process for maximum nutrient absorption in the small intestine.

The pancreas produces enzymes for the digestion of different foods. Amylase is responsible for the digestion of carbohydrates found in plant matter, lipase for the digestion of fats and protease enzymes including trypsin to digest proteins. A diet high in cooked and processed foods (KIBBLE) devoid of enzymes will cause the pancreas to increase in size for the extra production of enzymes to compensate for the lack of enzymes in the food.

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. Inflammation of the pancreas disrupts its normal functions, which include secreting insulin to balance blood sugar levels, and producing digestive enzymes which are necessary for nutrient digestion and absorption.

What I believe attributes to pancreatitis?

First off commercial processed kibble. High-carbohydrate based pet foods like kibble, which are hard for pets to digest, overstress the pancreas, quickly depleting its enzyme reserves.

Kibble is high in starch, which is the reason for inflammation of the pancreases in the beginning. Feeding rice as the basis of the dog or cats long term diet, which when cooked, converts directly into sugar within the body.

Soy adds another problem, in that it contains trypsin inhibitors which impairs proteolytic (enzyme) digestion by the pancreas when fed in large amounts continuously.

Here is the alarming problem, that “prescription food” your vet is trying to convince you to buy and feed your dog for pancreatitis is full of soy and rice.

Soy and rice, two ingredients that most of this digestive ‘sensitive’ commercial food is based on for the treatment of pancreatitis, therefore appear to be the very foods that contribute to the development of pancreatic disorders and the diseases linked to them such as diabetes.

I will also add most dogs that develop pancreatitis are kibble fed.

Pets on steroid treatments which are commonly used to treat allergies in dogs or canine arthritis are also susceptible to developing pancreatitis, as are overweight or obese dogs. 

In my opinion, the worst thing you can feed your dog if diagnosed with pancreatitis is kibble. Your dogs’ pancreases is already inflamed, and you are adding fuel to the fire.

Dogs with pancreatitis bodies need to be supported. Supported with fresh unprocessed foods, and healing supplements.

Dogs with pancreatitis also will most definitely have a compromised gut.

I recommend for dogs with pancreatitis.

Feed a raw diet using fresh foods.

Raw food provides an abundance of enzymes needed by dogs and cats to help the process of digestion, whereas kibbles including veterinary prescription diets for dogs lack naturally occurring food enzymes due to high heat processing which destroys any present in the food.

Feeding a fresh raw diet reduces stress on the pancreas.

Fresh green tripe is a great addition to a raw diet. It is low in fat, easily digested and contains an abundance of enzymes and probiotic bacteria.

When we start out feeding a raw diet for a dog with pancreatitis, we want to stick to low fat proteins, so avoiding for now proteins such as pork & lamb. Feeding more lean proteins.

However, your dog still NEEDS FAT.

Supplementing the diet with a fat source such as flaxseed oil (CEN Oil), allows for improved tolerance, and the fats are absorbed quicker.  A recent study showed that flaxseed oil helped reduce inflammatory markers and disease severity in people with colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease.

Support the gut

Adding in some supplements including collagen and a probiotics will help support your dogs digestion. Probiotic bacteria are needed in the intestinal tract to help process nutrients.

They are also involved in producing Vitamin B12 which dogs with pancreatitis are usually low in, due to low levels of good probiotic bacteria in the intestine and their inability to absorb it. CEN Digestive + is an excellent product to help support the gut environment.

Digestive enzymes

Digestive enzymes are proteins that help break down food molecules into smaller pieces. Digestive enzymes can be used for pancreatic and GI issues. Digestive enzymes help pets digest and assimilate food better.


  • All advice Chadwick Nutrition gives is not to Treat, Diagnose, Or Provide Medical Advice
  • It is for Educational and Dietary Nutritional/ Supplementation Advice Only
  • Please Contact Your Vet If You Are Worried About Making Any Changes To Your Pets Diet
  • Pancreatitis is a serious disease. I do not recommend making changes to your pet’s diet without working with your vet, naturopath or nutritionist.

Jacinta Malone
Certified Canine & Feline Nutritionist
Chadwick Nutrition


Effects of flaxseed and flaxseed oil supplement on serum levels of inflammatory markers, metabolic parameters and severity of disease in patients with ulcerative colitis – PubMed


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