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Pancreatitis & EPI

Pancreatitis is an inflammatory disease of the pancreas,caused by an “overload”  on the pancreas. When the pancreas becomes inflamed, digestive enzymes that are normally inactive until they reach the small intestine become active in the pancreas instead—resulting in pain and swelling as the pancreas actually begins to digest itself. Other causes can include: obesity, endocrine diseases such as hypothyroidism, and various medications or toxins. Even if your dog doesn’t normally eat a high-fat diet, the introduction of a large amount of fatty food all at once can cause acute pancreatitis. This disease is more often seen in pets eating processed or cooked pet foods. Rarely is it seen in dogs and cats that eat a raw food diet. Studies have shown conclusively that cooked foods do require a higher enzymatic output from the pancreas to effect proper digestion.


Symptoms of Pancreatitis include:

  • Hunched back.

  • Repeated vomiting.

  • Pain or distention of the abdomen (dog appears uncomfortable or bloated)

  • Diarrhea.

  • Loss of appetite.

  • Dehydration.

  • Weakness/lethargy.

  • Fever.

Accepting the fact that the pancreas does have a finite level of function which is no different to that of any other bodily organ. Then the type of food eaten, and the level of pancreatic output required to digest that food, will have a long term impact on the longevity of that organ.


So what raw foods should I be feeding my dog with Pancreatitis?

Being that one of the main causes of Pancreatitis is due to a high fat diet it would be wise to feed lean cuts or the leanest of meats. Do keep in mind that fat is important in the diet for energy and the cells. You must focus on keeping fats at a balanced and proper amount to not increase symptoms.

Chicken, Turkey, and Rabbit are good examples of low-fat/lean meats. In order to keep the fats balanced (because solely feeding rabbit and poultry will cause deficiencies and imbalance of fat). A rotation of ruminant animals is a must--Certain cuts of Beef, Goat, and Venison are great examples to feed be sure to introduce those slowly and poo watch before increasing. Just remember to trim excess fat from any of the listed options.

For organ content of course liver should always be at 5%, for the other 5% alternate feeding other secreting organs one of them being pancreas. Feeding pancreatic tissue has been shown to help aide in digestion.

Don’t forget the Omega 3’s! While remembering we’re focusing on providing a lean diet for the pancreatic dog it would be best to source a supplement such as krill or salmon oil as an alternative to feeding fatty fish.

No snacks. Especially any cooked table scraps, the odd biscuit here and there. Just avoid those all together.

Doing so, and sticking to a strict lean/raw diet will give your pet a better chance at getting well again.

What if my dog has EPI? 

Some conditions, such as pancreatitis, cause EPI by directly damaging the pancreatic cells that make digestive enzymes.

Here's a great way of switching your EPI dog to a raw diet by Alyssa Barnes:

Raw Feeding an EPI Dog: The Ultimate Guide


The Myths

  • Raw Feeding Will Worsen SIBO

  • I need to add bone right away

  • EPI dogs can’t digest raw

  • My dog still has diarrhea on raw; it isn’t working

  • I can’t add enzymes to raw food

  • Raw meat is too fatty

  • My vet said EPI dogs need a low-protein and low-fat diet



The Reality

  • Kibble worsens SIBO, not raw. SIBO is the result of your dog’s inability to produce enough digestive enzymes to quickly break down food. As a result of the inefficiency, the food ferments in the small intestine and breeds bacteria. Since kibble takes longer to digest than raw, you are more likely to experience SIBO on kibble.

    • Note: You must practice safe handling when feeding raw, especially to an EPI dog. Make sure you freeze meat properly. Make sure you aren’t leaving the meat out for hours. Treat your dog’s meals more akin to how you would treat meat you are going to eat since EPI dogs are very sensitive to bacteria.

  • Do NOT add bone right away. Remember, your dog does not produce enough enzymes to break down his/her food naturally. Bone is one of the most difficult things to break down. It is of paramount importance that your dog’s stomach is more acidic than basic and the best way to guarantee this is to follow the starter guide and begin with only boneless, skinless white meat or green tripe. Adding bone too soon will worsen SIBO and cause other problems.

  • EPI dogs can more easily digest raw than kibble because it contains more natural enzymes and doesn’t contain any of the carbs and fillers that slow down digestion.

  • We’ll cover diarrhea trouble-shooting later.

  • You can add enzymes to raw, we’ll discuss that later.

  • With an EPI dog, you should trim off any large pieces of fat that you can trim. You don’t want to remove all fat because fat is necessary for energy, but you will want to remove as much as you easily can. It’s also good to mix a fatty meat with a lean meat so your dog isn’t overwhelmed.

  • This is total bogus and the sign of a vet who is not educated on raw diets. I ran into this argument from my vet, switched my dog to a holistic vet, and then her original vet ended up shadowing the holistic vet because she was so shocked at how much better my dog’s EPI is on raw.


The Plan

  • Familiarize yourself with RFAS’ starter guide and detox guide, but be prepared to progress slowly.

  • Buy several weeks’ worth of boneless, skinless white meat and green tripe. You don’t want to feed an EPI dog skin, ever, because it is too fatty. Green tripe will be the holy grail of proteins for an EPI dog, but don’t feed it as your main protein except for during week one.

  • If your dog is battling SIBO, you need to continue using Tylan for at least 21 days. Don’t expect a solid poop during that time. It isn’t raw that’s causing diarrhea when battling SIBO, it’s SIBO.


  • Week One

    • If you can, begin by feeding 100% green tripe. The digestive enzymes will really help your dog transition. To this, you add your enzymes as you would any other meal, but you will likely find you need to use slightly less than you did on kibble or a cooked diet.

    • Don’t expect a solid poop in week one.

  • Bone

    • Now you can add bone, but only give an EPI dog soft bone, such as poultry necks, always being sure to remove the skin.

    • Continue feeding bone, tripe, and enzymes until your dog has solid poops for a few days

    • If your dog is still battling SIBO, you likely won’t experience a fully solid poop, but you should notice an improvement, nonetheless.

  • Second Protein

    • These should be a white meat

    • Add 10% of the new protein per day sine EPI dogs are more sensitive until you’ll fully switched. You can feed 10% green tripe per day to support your dog’s enzymes.

  • Third Protein

    • Now, you can introduce wild game or a lean, red meat.

    • You will need to do this very, very slowly.

    • If your dog struggled with the second white meat, consider introducing a third white meat instead.

  • Fourth Protein

    • If you have yet to introduce a red meat, now is the time to do so.

  • Organs

    • When introducing organs, start with a piece that is as small as you can possibly cut it and work your way up to 5% and 5% gradually.

    • You need to progress slowly so you can pinpoint the cause of diarrhea if it happens.

  • Eggs and Fish

    • You can follow the guide with these, just feed a less fatty fish.

    • I personally feed krill oil.


Other Things to Note

  • With EPI dogs, it is very important that you refrain from feeding non-PMR treats and chews. You need to know exactly what your dog is eating so if your dog suffers from diarrhea you can identify if it is EPI related.

  • If you give your dog kefir, it’s best to stick with goat kefir because normal kefir is more likely to give an EPI dog gas.

  • If your dog has solid poops and then suffers from diarrhea, you should be familiar enough with your dog’s diarrhea and EPI to identify if it is EPI diarrhea or if your dog simply has an upset stomach. My dog, for example, won’t eat if she has EPI diarrhea, but she will if she has an upset stomach.

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