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How to protect your dog from this serious disease A healthy pancreas has several crucial functions in the body: It produces protein, carbohydrate and fat digesting enzymes such as protease, lipase and amylase. It also has an absolutely crucial function in regulating sugars in the body by producing insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the cells store and utilize carbohydrates Pancreatitis can be divided into two forms. 1. Chronic - more common, less serious, but often latent for months. This condition is not as dangerous and often doesn’t cause any visible symptoms. It is likely that chronic pancreatitis will eventually turn into an the acute flare up if unattended. 2. Acute - it is less common but much more serious. Digestive enzymes get activated inside of the pancreas and may affect and start “digesting” the internal abdominal lining – peritoneum. This can lead to serious life threatening complications. What predisposes dogs to pancreatitis? Processed food kibble. Food that is too fatty. Too frequent feeding and treats. Nutrient deficiencies – minerals, vitamins and amino acids. Injury in the region of thoracic lumbar spine junction. [[advertisement product="rawdiet-ad" /]] 1. Processed food is one of the biggest causes of pancreatitis. Grain based, imbalanced, cheap food is the most common culprit, however, do not be mistaken. Even the so-called natural high-quality kibble is harder on the pancreas. For many thousands of years, dogs evolved eating meat, some plant material like grass and fruit. Their pancreas is not designed to digest large quantities of grain such as wheat, corn or rice. It gets stressed, overburdened and finally inflamed. 2. Too much fat is another common reason. Fat is a cheap food ingredient and manufacturers often reach for it to reduce the manufacturing costs. Surprisingly, even some special digestive or hypoallergenic diet formulas have fat and corn as their main ingredients. Fat too stresses the pancreas as it has to produce more lipase, which is the enzyme helping with fat processing, 3. Too frequent feeding and treats This predisposing factor is often forgotten. Many people fall in for the sad puppy eyes when a dog begs for food or believe that dogs need to eat as frequently as people. If you look at how dogs evolved over the millennia, they would often fast for a long period of time when food was not available. This was a great opportunity for the pancreas to rest. Usually I suggest not feeding more than twice a day but once a day with a day a week of fasting is perfect. If your dog has elevated pancreas enzymes, you also need to look at treats and how often you give them. Grain is often in treats and frequent “treating” give pancreas no rest which may make it more prone to inflammation. [[advertisement product="essentials-ad" /]] 4. Nutrient deficiencies Are one of the most troublesome problems in medicine and commonly completely unaddressed by health care practitioners. Minerals are essential for proper function of every organ. Without them, the pancreas becomes weaker and more prone to inflammation. Just to give an example, magnesium participates in more than 300 metabolic reactions in the body and there are other minerals needed. Agricultural soils have not been replenished and food transportation and lack of composting and recycling leads to deficiencies that transfer to the whole food chain including our dogs. The same applies to some vitamins, amino acids and essential fatty acids. most of these building blocks cannot be made by the body and need to be supplemented. What supplements does your dog need This is what my dog Skai gets and you may want to consider for your dog GreenMin (plant based essential minerals) SoulFood (organic naturally cultured multivitamin) FeelGood Omega all-natural, mercury and toxin free Probiotics to balance the digestive tract. Dogs with pancreatitis also need Pancreatrophin PMG - a pancreas glandular support that nourishes and protects this important gland. 5. Back injuries On the surface, most people do not see the connection between back injuries and pancreatitis. In reality, they play a significant role. The space between the last thoracic and the first lumbar vertebra supplies energy flow to the pancreas. When the back gets injured or tight in this region, the pancreas gets weaker. It may also get inflamed. That is why I recommend that every dog with pancreatitis gets checked by an experienced animal chiropractor, physiotherapist or an osteopath to treat the muscle spasm. For more information on pancreatitis, click here for another article.
Why my dog Skai will get processed food only over my dead body I have said many times before that whenever we are unsure about nutrition, the best thing to do is go back to nature. If you think about it, commercial, heavily-processed pet food made from grain and other ingredients is far from what dogs and cats would eat in nature. They have not been designed to digest complete carbohydrates because their digestive tract is short and doesn’t have the large fore-stomach or colon of cows and horses. The pancreas of carnivores is clearly designed to digest mainly protein. Canine and feline digestion mostly happens in the stomach and the small intestines, where the pancreas plays an important role as a protein enzyme-making machine. It gets seriously strained and overworked when we feed dogs corn and wheat. After all, I have never seen dogs and cats grazing in a corn or wheat field. It is not much different than imagining a horse or a rabbit chewing a bone. I have no idea why some people believe that pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) happens from feeding meat that is too rich in protein. In my opinion, pancreatitis happens mainly because dogs are fed carbohydrate-rich, poor-quality food that the pancreas finds difficult to digest. It simply gets too stressed and overwhelmed by doing work that it is not designed to do. As a result, the pancreas gets inflamed and the whole problem progresses to pancreatitis or diabetes because an inflamed and damaged pancreas can lose the ability to produce insulin. Here is an article about the treatment of pancreatitis and supplements to help restore your dog's health. [[advertisement product="rawdiet-ad" /]] A curious look at medical diets While writing this article, I decided to get a closer look at the ingredients of a few 'premium' medical diets used for gastrointestinal issues and here is what I discovered. Canine I/D diet made by Science Diet: Water, Turkey, Egg Product, Pork Liver, Rice, Whole Grain Corn, Rice Starch, Powdered Cellulose, Dried Beet Pulp. Royal Canin Gastrointestinal HE Chicken meal, brown rice, rice, chicken fat, ground corn, corn gluten meal, natural flavors, dried egg product, brewers dried yeast, dried beet pulp, fish oil, vegetable oil. EN Gastroenteric Canine by Purina Brewers rice, corn gluten meal, whole grain corn, chicken meal, animal fat One doesn’t need to have a veterinary degree to see there is something wrong with this picture. Ingredients such as egg product, chicken meal, gluten meal and powdered cellulose don’t exactly evoke confidence in what is going on in pet food company's 'science laboratories.' Saying that raw or natural dehydrated food is too rich in protein and fat is like saying nature is wrong. I have been recommending raw, natural diets and all-natural, whole food supplements for more than 15 years and no scientific research study can convince me that wholesome meat, bones, organs and plant material are not what nature intended our dogs to eat. Saying raw or dehydrated food is too rich in protein and fat is like saying nature is wrong. What I think happened many years ago was pet food companies put together and analyzed a few recipes and came up with their own idea of what protein, fat and carbohydrate levels should be. In my mind, they did so because they could not achieve the nutritional profile of wholesome, natural food. I promised myself a long time ago that I would not participate in doing what does not make sense. I am sorry Mr. or Mrs. Mad Scientist, you will only feed your food to my dog over my dead body. Thank you very much! © Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM