Ask the Vegan Vet: Dogs with Pancreatitis
"My Chiweenie, Pippi, was recently diagnosed with pancreatitis. She has been on v-dog for a long time and otherwise seems very healthy and I'm very happy with v-dog. However, her vet of course wants to put her on prescription dog food (none of which is vegan). What do you think about pancreatitis and a vegan diet?" - Shanna R.
Thank you for your question! I'm sorry to hear that Pippi has had a bout of pancreatitis. Dogs often get pancreatitis after eating high fat foods or other foods they don't normally eat. Typical diets to prevent pancreatitis in dogs are above all low in fat. A vegan diet like v-dog is naturally very low in fat.
When dogs get pancreatitis and haven't eaten anything strange or high-fat, they are basically just more prone genetically to this disorder. It can recur in the future regardless of diet, but recurrence appears less common in dogs on low-fat diets. So, I don't see any reason why Pippi can't stay on v-dog. However, just know that she is prone to pancreatic issues and it could recur regardless of diet.
The prescription diets may have potential allergens like beef or chicken that could potentially compound her GI issues, but they are standardly prescribed in cases of pancreatitis.
"Why did my dog get pancreatitis and what is the best diet for him? Would switching to plant-based be a smart choice?" - Dan W.
Dogs can have acute pancreatitis (which often involves a trip to the hospital) and chronic pancreatitis. Pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas occurs when the digestive enzymes it produces become prematurely activated. Those active enzymes start breaking down tissue in the pancreas itself, and surrounding organs in severe cases. While we don’t fully understand the cause, risk factors include getting into the trash, high fat foods and obesity.
During acute pancreatitis, follow your vet’s dietary advice. This often involves withholding food to avoid stimulation of more pancreatic enzyme production. Because pancreatitis involves nausea it is best to actually avoid the dog’s regular diet. Just like with us, associating a food with nausea makes them turn down that food in the future.
Chronic pancreatitis is much less severe and more easily managed. The most important factor in controlling chronic pancreatitis is a low fat diet. A plant-based diet such as v-dog is naturally low fat. That makes v-dog kibble an appropriate food choice for dogs with this issue.
All the best,
Lorelei Wakefield, VMD