Sometimes, even with the best diet and quality of life, your dog might be struck with an unsuspecting illness out of the blue. Such an experience can definitely catch many dog owners off guard.
One medical condition that can be challenging to deal with is pancreatitis. You might have heard from many sources that it is good to feed pumpkin for such dogs.
But is it beneficial to feed pumpkin to dogs with pancreatitis?
Pumpkin is a great food option for dogs with pancreatitis. Pumpkins are a great source of fiber, potassium and minerals which dogs can benefit from. Dogs with pancreatitis require a diet that is low in fat and 100g of pumpkin only contains 26 calories.
If you have a dog with pancreatitis and would like to incorporate pumpkin in your dog’s diet, this is the right article for you.
What Is Pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis is a medical condition that affects your dog’s pancreas. The pancreas is an important organ that is situated in your dog’s stomach area.
This is one organ that often gets overlooked as we don’t really hear about it enough. Some might even not know that their dogs have a pancreas to begin with.
The pancreas helps to produce and release digestive enzymes which break down the food that your dog eats.
When a dog is suffering from pancreatitis, the pancreas starts to become inflamed and damage itself.
If left untreated, it can eventually become life-threatening for the dog.
Causes And Symptoms Of Pancreatitis In Dogs
Regularly eating food that is high in fat is one of the causes but scientists have also found that in the majority of cases, the actual cause can’t be determined or idiopathic.
There are some breeds that are more prone to getting pancreatitides like the Cocker Spaniel and Miniature Schnauzer.
Symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs include:
- Abdominal pain
- Lack of appetite
Is Pancreatitis Treatable?
Pancreatitis can be treated with supportive care but it isn’t a condition that can just be cured by antibiotics.
The vet can also prescribe pain relief medication, anti-nausea medication, antibiotics, stomach protectants, etc.
If your dog has gotten pancreatitis before, there’s a chance of your dog getting it again. Hence it is important to keep a close eye on its diet.
Why Diet Is Important For Dogs with Pancreatitis?
If your dog has been diagnosed with pancreatitis, the one thing besides medication that can really help your dog is a good diet.
What you should be aiming for is a diet that is low in fat (10-15%), bland and high in fiber.
Some carbohydrates is fine as carbs doesn’t cause the pancreas to stimulate a lot of digestive enzymes.
If you have been feeding your dog food items like truffle oil, that has to stop as it is too rich in fats for now.
The low-fat diet helps to prevent future flare-ups and stomach upsets but does not reduce the fat content to zero as your dog’s body still requires some fat intake to function properly.
The less work your dog’s pancreas has to do, the better and faster it can recover or at least stabilize its condition.
Feeding your dog smaller but more frequent meals can allow the pancreas to recover faster after each meal.
You do not want to be feeding your dog anything dog food that is high in fat as that makes it hard for the body to digest.
Please refrain from any sort of human food even though it might be low in fat.
Fatty foods can be high in sodium as well which isn’t ideal for dogs with pancreatitis.
Is Pumpkin Good For Dogs With Pancreatitis?
I feel that pumpkins don’t get the recognization that they deserve when it comes to healthy foods.
Most of us tend to only associate the pumpkin with Halloween or the occasional pumpkin pie during dessert.
A pumpkin has a lot going for it than we give it credit for. It is high in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and water.
Even pumpkin seeds are full of nutritional value and health benefits.
Pumpkin is good for dogs with pancreatitis because the body easily absorbs this fruit.
It also works well for dogs with loose stools and smelly gas as it helps to firm up the stools in your dog’s intestines.
Any food which is easily broken down and absorbed by your dog’s digestive system places less stress and discomfort on the pancreas which is exactly what we want.
Pumpkin also helps to manage your dog’s stomach acidity and encourages the production of pancreatic juices.
What Form Of Pumpkin Should You Feed Your Dog?
Not all forms of pumpkin are made equal and you should tailor it accordingly to your dog’s pancreatitis severity
For dogs that are having acute pancreatitis or when the pancreas is really inflamed and painful, it is best to feed boiled pumpkin.
Boiled pumpkin is a lot softer which makes it easy for your dog to digest. Make sure that the pumpkin is well cooked and feed your dog without any of the skin or seeds.
Mashing up the pumpkin into a paste can also help make digestion easier.
You can also feed your dog canned pumpkin or pureed pumpkin but make sure it doesn’t contain any other added ingredients like sugar, salt or preservatives.
Do not use pumpkin pie filling as that contains sugar.
When your dog’s pancreatitis gets better, you can continue with boiled pumpkin if you want. But you can also just blend some raw pumpkin and mix it into your dog’s food.
How Much Pumpkin Should You Give Your Dog?
When feeding your dog pumpkin, you don’t have to go crazy with the amount. Your dog is first and foremost a carnivore which means that protein should still form the majority of its diet.
For large dog breeds, 1-2 tablespoons a meal should be more than enough. Smaller-sized dogs can do with half of that amount.
Pumpkin can help to bind loose stools when your pet is having diarrhea or regulate bowel movements with constipation.
Whenever my dog or cat has a problem with their digestive system that causes constipation or diarrhea, I will feed them some pumpkin till they get better.
Overfeeding your dog with pumpkin can cause either loose stools or make your dog constipated due to the high fiber content.
If your dog is experiencing any form of tummy upset from the pumpkin, cut back on the amount and frequency.
What Foods Should Your Dog Not Eat?
You are now aware that a high-fat diet isn’t favorable for dogs with pancreatitis.
However, there are a few more important factors that you will need to adhere to for your dog’s diet.
Minimize Sugar Intake
You don’t want your dog consuming sugar with this medical condition. If possible, limit sugar to a bare minimum in your dog’s diet.
Sugar is a form of carbs but it reacts differently when ingested in the body. You can’t compare a sugary treat like a cake to a sweet potato.
Too much sugar can cause a spike in your dog’s insulin levels which requires the pancreas to work harder.
If you want to add some carbohydrates to your dog’s food, use plain white rice instead.
Processed food is a definite no-no when it comes to dogs with pancreatitis. Yes, I do understand that commercial pet food is also technically considered ‘processed food’.
But I am referring to really unhealthy processed food like meat jerky, sausages, ham, etc.
These types of processed food contain many types of unhealthy ingredients such as:
- Artificial flavoring
- Unhealthy fats
Stuff that your dog should not be eating with this medical condition.
You should still continue feeding your dog protein but stay away from low-quality protein like dry kibbles or canned food with a lot of fillers.
Since your dog might not be having the best of appetite while it’s sick, you should make each meal as high quality and nourishing as possible.
You might not realize it but dairy products are very high in animal fat. If you have been feeding your dog dairy products like cheese, milk, ice cream, etc, it has to stop.
Another important thing to note when it comes to dairy products is that most dogs are lactose intolerant.
Dairy products can cause digestive issues like bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, flatulence and vomiting.
This can put a lot of unnecessary strain on your dog’s inflamed pancreas.
You can choose to give your dog some low-fat yogurt when it is feeling better.
But do not feed any sugar-free variants as they can contain artificial sweeteners which can be very toxic to dogs.
What Foods Are Good For Dogs With Pancreatitis?
This isn’t the best of times for you to get adventurous with your dog’s diet. There’s only one simple rule to follow.
Keep it bland and simple.
Here are some ingredients that you can mix and match for your dog’s food.
- Egg white (cooked)
- White rice
- Some cooked vegetables
It might not seem as much but it will help keep your dog’s pancreas and stomach in good form.
Try to keep away from fatty meats like beef, duck, goose and lamb as these types of meats tend to be a lot higher in fat content making them harder to digest.