FATS OR CARBS- What's really at the root of Pancreatitis?


As an animal Naturopath, I am seeing more and more cases of pancreatitis in dogs. While traditionally it is seen in older dogs, now many younger dogs are also falling victim to it. Maybe you have a dog that has suffered or is still suffering from pancreatitis. Today, I want to share with you what I believe to be the UNDERLYING cause of pancreatitis in dogs and it might not be what you think!  
Simply put, pancreatitis in dogs is an inflammation of the pancreas. Now while there are a few different causes and triggers, it’s important to note that it is much more common in dogs fed processed and cooked foods. Why is this you ask??  Well, our dogs are ‘built’ with the equipment to digest meat, bones, organs and some plant material, but lack what they need to consume a diet of processed, grain based foods (ie- commercial foods). Cooked foods too can lack the necessary living enzymes required as these are damaged in the cooking process so both types of diets can be very much lacking in enzymes. In this post, I’ll show you why I believe this is really at the root of pancreatitis, especially when diagnosed as ‘chronic’.
The pancreas is an organ that lies behind the stomach and the first section of the small intestine, known as the duodenum. It has two main functions: it aids in metabolism of sugar in the body through the production of insulin, and secondly, it  produces pancreatic enzymes to assist in the digestion of nutrients.  Now we all know that digestion in our own bodies begins in our mouth (if you are anything like me- your mother told you to chew your food 100 times before swallowing it!). But for dogs, things are slightly different.  Being carnivores, they have no digestive enzymes in their saliva like we do so for them digestion does not and cannot begin in the mouth. They also have a very short digestive tract in comparison to our own. Your dog’s body uses enzymes to digest and use food and they rely on two types of enzymes that do that:  enzymes in the food itself, and enzymes that are produced by the pancreas. 



When our dogs are fed a cooked diet or diet with grains and vegetables in it, the pancreas gets over stimulated and overworked and in turn becomes inflamed. This inflammatory response can actually cause enzymes to be activated before they reach the small intestine (their proper destination) and this can cause ‘self digestion’ of the pancreas. The enzymes from the inflamed pancreas can also leak out in the stomach cavity and damage the stomach lining and other organs which adds to what is already a serious and often life-threatening situation.

Symptoms of acute pancreatitis include appetite loss and vomiting, sometimes accompanied by diarrhoea, and there are usually signs of lethargy and dehydration. This can be life threatening so urgent veterinary attention is needed. However, chronic pancreatitis may actually cause no symptoms or only an occasional bout of vomiting or diarrhoea.

Traditionally  it is believed that pancreatitis in dogs is caused by a very high fat meal which triggers the acute pancreatitis bout. And while this can be an immediate trigger, we have to look a little deeper at the health of the pancreas to see what might be underlying this. American Orthomolecular vet, Dr Wendell Belfield believed from his research into commercial food and his groundbreaking work with vitamin/mineral therapy that the pancreas like any organ, can start to ‘wear out’ and has limited enzyme production passed a certain point.  Overtime as this slows down, this can contribute to the aging of our dogs as well as the incidence of pancreatitis. (This can also happen in our own digestive systems where over time, our pancreas and general digestive system tends to work less efficiently). You can read more about Dr Bellfield here. http://belfield.com/about/.

In dogs this means that the more processed or cooked food we feed them, the harder the pancreas has to work in the digestive process so it makes sense that this could weaken the organ over long periods of time. Essentially this process of digesting foods that our dogs were never designed to eat causes pancreatic exhaustion and an increase in the incidence of pancreatitis.

On the upside though, it is actually quite rare to see this occur in dogs that are raw fed as a raw diet contains plenty of natural living enzymes and the very nature of raw food makes the digestive process much easier for our dogs’ pancreas.


So while triggers such as a very high fat meal/gorging on something that’s inappropriate may bring on a bout of pancreatitis, keeping this organ healthy and avoiding pancreatitis is dependent on the right type of diet which means avoiding processed and cooked foods full of CARBS. Other contributing factors including obesity (which is linked to poor nutrition), certain drugs and physical trauma to the pancreas itself but for the great majority of dogs suffering from bouts of pancreatitis, whether acute of chronic, making a move away from processed cooked foods to a raw and grain free diet makes sense!! And remember too, that there is a big difference between good and bad fats so while it is important for a dog that has had pancreatitis to avoid certain types of fats, other ‘good’ fats including essential fatty acids can actually be very helpful. But always check first with your holistic practitioner rather than trying to figure this one out on your own!

I hope you’ve enjoyed today's post on“FATS OR CARBS- WHAT’S REALLY AT THE ROOT OF PANCREATITIS!! Please leave me a comment of question below  as I love to hear your feedback!! Andd don’t forget to subscribe to my youtube channel where you’ll receive all the latest happy healthy dogs tips straight to your inbox.'
Talk to you soon!