Finding the best food for pancreatitis in dogs

Updated 15 May 2024
Read time: 11 mins
article author
Written by Corinne Homer
If your pooch has been diagnosed with pancreatitis by a vet, the next step is finding suitable food for their new dietary needs. It can be nerve-wracking when your pooch’s condition could be worsened by what they eat - so being well-informed and keeping things simple with their food is the best way to go.


Read on for our vet-approved advice on the best food to give dogs with pancreatitis. The more you know about what triggers your dog’s delicate digestive system, the more prepared you’ll be to keep them happy, healthy and safe.


What is pancreatitis in dogs?

Pancreatitis is a condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed and doesn’t function as it should. So what does the pancreas do? Put very simply, the pancreas is responsible for the production of insulin and releases important enzymes for digestion - therefore it’s integral for balancing a dog’s blood sugar levels and aiding their intestines to digest food.


When the pancreas starts to dysfunction (which can be for various reasons; from a high fat diet and/or obesity, to the effects of certain medications or diseases), the dog’s digestive system is no longer able to process certain foods without becoming very ill.


It’s fair to say that diet is an essential part of treatment when a dog has pancreatitis. Not tweaking their diet to suit their new physical needs can even prove life threatening to a dog with pancreatitis, so once your pooch is diagnosed, honing what they will eat in future is vital to keep your dog well and safe.


Nutritional requirements for dog food for pancreatitis

So what does it mean to feed your pooch the best food for pancreatitis? In general, pancreatitis-friendly food for dogs must be:


  • Low in fat. Overly fatty foods put a huge strain on the pancreas and could cause your dog to become very sick. Heavy, fatty or sugary foods should be replaced with healthy, light veggies and lean proteins.
  • Highly digestible. Dogs with pancreatitis must eat digestible foods that are easy on the organs, to avoid the pancreas having to overwork. Gentle digestible foods such as fish, potatoes and peas should be top of the menu.
  • Made with high-quality protein sources. Dogs need a lot of lean protein - it’s the hero of a nutritious dog diet. However, some healthy proteins can even be a risk for a dog with pancreatitis due to potential fat content. Fatty proteins (such as lamb or beef) should be approached with caution, ideally replaced with very lean, digestible proteins (such as chicken or turkey).
  • Made of limited ingredients. When feeding a dog with pancreatitis, the fewer ingredients the better. Keeping it simple with whole, nourishing foods reduces the risk of food sensitivities and nasty symptoms being triggered.


A plate of our Turkey and Chicken Complete Wet Food next to the Turkey and Chicken Complete Wet Food packaging, sliced apple and long stem broccoli on a pink background

What food can I give my dog with pancreatitis?

So what can you feed your pooch that eases, rather than triggers, their pancreatitis?

  • The easiest option is to choose a premium-quality, specialist dog food specifically formulated for digestive issues or pancreatic health, and go for a brand recommended by your vet. This dog food should have a low fat content, usually 15% or below.

  • Some pooch owners opt for a homemade diet. This can be the preferable choice if you want to know exactly what your dog is eating, however it is tricky to balance the nutrients on your own when your dog has such specific needs. If you choose to prepare dog food yourself at home, make sure this is alongside the guidance of a vet or pet nutritionist.

  • Prioritise hydration. Dogs with pancreatitis often get dehydrated - so wet food is often seen as the best way to boost their hydration. Some specialist dry dog foods are still excellent options, however, as they can be served alongside oral hydration solutions or softened with warm water. Also, make sure there are lots of bowls of fresh water around your house for your pooch to drink all day.


Ingredients to avoid:

When you’re planning a new diet for your pooch with pancreatitis, here’s a reminder of foods to stay clear of…

  • High-fat ingredients, as they can exacerbate symptoms of pancreatitis. Fat is the biggest trigger of your dog’s condition, so things such as human leftovers, fatty or sugary treats, cheese and red meats are no longer on the menu! Chat to your vet about specifics so you know what’s best for your particular pooch - they can let you know what fat levels your dog can manage.
  • Common allergens and irritants for sensitive dogs. Allergens that lots of dogs are sensitive to, such as grain or dairy products, are likely to make your dog unwell if they have pancreatitis. Trying a grain-free dog food and/or avoiding dairy products and other common allergens entirely will certainly help with this.
  • Cheap dog food not formulated for pancreatitis. It goes without saying, but cheap dog food that hasn’t been designed for your dog’s needs is only going to stress their poor body. These dog foods are not only more likely to contain high-fat ingredients but also preservatives, artificial sugars and nasties that will really aggravate your dog’s pancreatitis.


Gastrointestinal dog food for pancreatitis

As it’s best to avoid common allergens which can trigger symptoms, dogs with pancreatitis often benefit from a grain-free dog food - like our vet recommended, grain-free dog food for gastrointestinal issues (such as pancreatitis) that contains zero grain.

It’s made with delicious, gut-sensitive ingredients that are gently digestible - like salmon, a high quality protein full of powerful nutrients. Unlike fresh salmon, which can be risky for a dog with pancreatitis due to its fattiness, the fat content of our vet-approved kibble is as low as 15%. It also contains apple pulp for a boost of digestive fibre, and lots of prebiotics and probiotics to balance healthy bacteria in the gut.

* Note - Our Veterinary Food for Gastroenteritis contains 15% fat - so is NOT suitable for pooches advised to stick to a diet with less than 15% fat. They'd instead need a lower fat alternative (like our Fish, Potato and Pea Wet Food).

Two bags of our Grain-Free Gastrointestinal Veterinary Complete Dry Food next to a cute, small, light brown and white curly haired dog looking at the bags of food

Transitioning to a pancreatitis-friendly diet

When you’ve got your dog’s new pancreatitis-friendly food, it’s important to transition them slowly...

  • Gradually introduce new food, perhaps mixing it with some of their old food for a few days at first and monitoring how they react to it. Eventually you can transition completely to their new food in around 7-10 days.
  • Monitor your dog’s behaviour, such as bowel movements and any untoward symptoms (lethargy or bloatedness, for example), as well as improvements in their condition.
  • Check in with a vet regularly to update them on how things are going. Regular vet check-ups are an essential step in looking after your dog with pancreatitis.
  • Tailor their diet. If you have trouble getting your dog to eat their new food, that’s another thing to discuss with a vet. All dogs are different levels of picky - if they don’t like something, their diet can be tailored to suit their tastes. The severity of pancreatitis can vary - and your vet can also inform you on fat levels in food your dog can handle.


Let’s sum up - here are the main points to consider when feeding your dog with pancreatitis:

  • As the pancreas is responsible for balancing blood sugar levels and digesting fats, it’s vital to put your dog on a suitable diet that won’t put pressure on the pancreas.

  • Plan a diet for your dog that is low in fat and contains simple, highly digestible ingredients. You can choose a specialist dog food for gastrointestinal issues, such as pancreatitis, that balances the nutrients for you.

  • Hydration is very important when feeding your dog with pancreatitis. If you’re putting them on a specialist dry food, you can add water to soften the kibble, and be sure your dog drinks lots of water throughout the day.

  • Consult your vet on which foods your dog with pancreatitis can eat. They can tell you the level of fat content your dog can manage (usually between 7% and 15%) and can offer advice and medications to maintain your dog’s well-being.

  • With veterinary guidance and the help of a specialist diet for pancreatitis, your pooch can avoid exacerbating the symptoms of their condition and enjoy a healthy and stress-free quality of life.





How is pancreatitis in dogs diagnosed?

Dogs with pancreatitis often show symptoms in advance (vomiting, abdominal pain, changes in appetite). A vet will determine if a pooch has pancreatitis with physical examinations, including x-rays, blood tests or ultrasounds, to detect whether their pancreatitis is inflamed. Once diagnosed, your vet will likely prescribe medication and suggest a special low-fat diet.


Is wet or dry food better for dogs with pancreatitis?

As pancreatitis can lead a dog to be dehydrated, wet food is often deemed beneficial due to its higher water content. There’s also the argument that wet food is more palatable, therefore a dog is more likely to eat it and get all the valuable nutrition they need for their condition.

However, a nutritious dry food, if it’s a specialist, vet-approved recipe, is still an excellent choice for a dog with pancreatitis. To add water content you could serve their food softened with some warm water, serve it with a hydration supplement, and make sure there are always full bowls of water around the house for your dog to drink throughout the day.


Can dogs with pancreatitis eat tuna?

Tuna is a healthy fish for dogs, but for dogs with pancreatitis, it’s a little risky. As tuna is a fatty fish, it could exacerbate your dog’s sensitive digestive system. If you’re considering canned tuna, be sure that it’s high quality and the type that comes in spring water - not brine and definitely not oil. Before you go ahead with feeding tuna to your dog, chat with your vet about your dog’s pancreatitis to be sure.


Can dogs with pancreatitis eat eggs?

Eggs are a typically fatty food, but they are a healthy protein source and come with lots of nutritional benefits for dogs. Whether your pooch should avoid eggs will depend on their specific severity of pancreatitis, so discuss it with your vet. If your dog eats eggs, they should be hard-boiled so they’re fully cooked, and served plain alongside other lean, digestible foods.


Are there any home remedies for pancreatitis in dogs?

If your pooch has been diagnosed with pancreatitis, some go-to home remedies include feeding your dog little and often, as this avoids the body digesting large amounts of food, so puts less pressure on the pancreas. Some dog owners also try fasting on their dog - this may be appropriate if they're vomiting excessively, however, in these cases we'd usually recommend contacting your vet as they may want you to bring your dog in and on a fluid drip with anti nausea medicine.

Remember to also keep your dog well hydrated with lots of water and hydrating foods.

Note that at-home remedies aren’t enough for pancreatitis; you’ll need professional medical treatment and advice from a vet when carrying out any of the above suggestions.


Which protein is best for a dog with pancreatitis?

Protein is super important for growth, maintenance and physical development as a dog ages, but it’s vital to give a dog with pancreatitis the right types of protein. They should be lean and highly digestible to put the least strain on the pancreas; meats such as turkey or chicken and certain types of fish are perfect.

Dog foods that are specially formulated for a dog with pancreatitis will be made with high-quality proteins that are super healthy as well as suited to your dog’s physical condition.


If your pooch has special dietary requirements due to a health condition such as pancreatitis, our vet-approved, grain-free dog food for gastrointestinal issues is perfectly formulated to fuel their bodies while keeping them healthy, happy, and safe. Remember to discuss with your vet before changing your dog’s food.

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