The 6 Best Commercial Dog Foods for Pancreatitis

dog with a speach bubble saying "The 6 Best Commercial Dog Foods for Pancreatitis"

Your dog’s pancreas is a small vital organ that produces enzymes for efficient food digestion and hormones that regulate blood. An inflamed pancreas is defined as pancreatitis, and if your dog has this condition, it might be dangerous to feed the dog food not specifically designed for his illness. What commercial dog foods are best for your dog if he has pancreatitis?

Here are the 6 best commercial dog foods for pancreatitis:

  1. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Reduced fat
  2. Merrick Grain-Free Healthy Weight
  3. Nutro Natural Choice Healthy Weight
  4. Solid Gold Fit and Fabulous
  5. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula
  6. America Journey Healthy Weight

Your dog may require specially formulated food for a short time until the inflammation subsides, but if he has chronic pancreatitis, he may need the special food forever. So for your dog, we searched out the best commercial dog foods for pancreatitis to share with you.

What Should You Look For In Commercial Dog Food for Pancreatitis?

For dogs with pancreatitis, you will want to select from low-fat and easily digestible brands. Instead of carbohydrates from wheat or corn, look for brown rice, sweet potatoes, barley, or something comparable.

Here is a breakdown of what dogs with pancreatitis need to keep the inflammation down and have a chance to heal and get back to their normal, playful selves.

Protein

Fat

Carbohydrates

Fiber

15%-30%

10%15% Maximum

40%-60%

Easily Digestible

5%-15% From Carbs

Easily Digestible

As you can see, dogs with pancreatitis need a slightly different formulation than healthier dogs. Let’s now compare that with the following nutritional standards for healthy dogs set out by the AAFCO.

AAFCO, or Association of American Feed Control Officials, sets the standards for safety and quality in pet food. Most dog food contains protein, fat, and carbohydrates formulated with sufficient calories to sustain healthy weight and energy levels.

The absolute minimum requirements for healthy adult dogs set by AAFCO include:

  • Protein: The minimum percentage of protein is 18% for adult dogs. Food for puppies should contain 22% and as much as 30% for working breeds.
  • Carbohydrates: There is no AAFCO standard carbohydrate requirement. However, most commercial dog foods range between 30% and 60%. The higher percentage may account for the fiber from carbohydrates.
  • Fat: AAFCO recommends 8% fat for puppies and pregnant females and 5% for adult dogs. Dogs need fat for energy, to utilize vitamins, and or healthy skin and shiny coats.

However, standards in specialty dog food for various conditions are even stricter.

For example, commercial dog food for pancreatitis should be low to moderate in fat and easily digestible. Standard formulations could aggravate existing chronic pancreatitis and trigger an acute pancreatitis episode.

Good quality dog food brands exceed the minimum standards set by AAFCO.

For Dogs With Pancreatitis, Choose Low-Moderate Fat Content

Food high in fat can trigger an attack of pancreatitis and aggravate an existing flare-up. Once you learn that your dog has pancreatitis, a standard procedure might mean little to no food for up to two days, allowing the inflammation to calm down.

Low-fat and grain-free commercial dog foods are more easily digested and allow the pancreas to continue recovering once your dog gets past those initial two days. After recovery, your vet may recommend a return to the previous food formula.

If your dog has chronic pancreatitis, he will likely need to remain on the low-fat diet, as well as a vet-prescribed medical treatment to prevent further damage to the pancreas.

You’ll want the best commercial dog food for Pancreatitis. Fortunately, there are many good choices, so let’s take a look at some of them.

Guidelines to High-Quality Commercial Dog Foods for Pancreatitis

Now that we’ve established that you need to find a high-quality commercial dog food that contains low-fat ingredients, yet provides all of the essential nutrients, how do you go about finding one?

You’ll want to first talk with your vet and get their recommendations about certain brands or types of food that would be best for your dog. They might even have specialty food in their office that they could prescribe for you.

Let’s take a look at some of the other criteria to choose specialty dog food if you don’t want to bother with a prescription.

  • Check and compare labels to ensure the ratios are within the acceptable range for fats and proteins.
  • Avoid coarse grains and check the packaging for the AAFCO label for assurance of adequate calories.
  • Choose a recipe made with high-quality animal proteins, low-to-moderate fat content, and digestible carbohydrates.

Top Vet Prescribed Dog Foods for Pancreatitis

The two most frequently vet prescribed dog foods for Pancreatitis are Royal Canin Low Fat and Hills Science Diet i/d Low Fat.

Both brands of prescription food are excellent for short-term and long-term use. It could be that if your dog’s pancreatitis is severe, prescription dog food may be necessary because they are the very lowest in fats.

The proper ratios for each brand are to be used as a guide for comparing commercial, non-prescription dog food, and are listed below:

Low Fat Prescription Brands for Pancreatitis

% Fat

% Protein

% Fiber from carbs

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat

4.5-8.5

20

3.6

Science Diet Prescription i/d Low Fat

7.7

25.3

5

The Six Best Commercial Dog Foods for Pancreatitis

We did our research to narrow down the best selections from easily accessible low-fat foods. Pancreatitis tends to develop quickly with little warning and you don’t want to be evaluating dog foods when the crisis is already upon you.

Our list of commercial dog foods for pancreatitis is not exhaustive. However, we have included recognizable name brands that meet the criteria. All are easily sourced from most chain pet food stores as well as online.

Due to the seriousness of pancreatitis in dogs, we strongly recommend that you get your vet’s approval for whichever low-fat food you select.

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Reduced-Fat

This dog food comes highly recommended for all dogs, due to how the company makes its formulas. The formula contains numerous other vegetables, vitamins, and minerals, and it’s a grain-free product.

The Wellness Core website contains a complete Canine Maintenance AAFCO Nutrient Claim.

Primary Ingredients

  • Turkey
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Pea fiber
  • Lentils
  • Potatoes

Reviews

  • Most customers who reviewed Wellness CORE chose it for weight loss or diabetes maintenance. In addition, the food formula for pancreatitis is identical, making this brand an excellent choice.
  • One customer complained her dogs developed severe itching when fed this food, and another believes the powdery substance caused her dogs to cough. The company has reached out to address the issues.

Merrick Grain-Free Healthy Weight

Merrick Grain-Free Healthy Weight contains 55% beef and poultry proteins, 45% vegetables, and fruit, and vitamins and minerals.

Primary Ingredients

  • Deboned Beef
  • Chicken Meal-Turkey Meal
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • White potatoes

Reviews

  • Merrick Grain-Free Healthy Weight is a favorite of customers, and dogs love it. Customer comments include success for weight loss, allergies, and pancreatitis.
  • One customer mentioned her dog was satisfied with less food which is a plus since special commercial foods cost more.
  • The only negative comments were from a few customers whose dogs experienced flatulence on this food. However, the issue is not significant enough to discontinue feeding the brand.

Nutro Natural Choice Healthy Weight

Animal protein is always the first ingredient in Nutro Dog Foods, which is formulated to provide high protein for muscle and soluble fiber for easy digestion.

Primary Ingredients

  • Chicken
  • Chicken meal
  • Whole grain brown rice

Reviews

  • This food received rave reviews, as dogs, especially picky eaters, love the taste and seem sated after eating.
  • Dog owners dedicated to clean eating for themselves and their dogs choose Neutro for their dogs. There are no GMOs, artificial anything, and is easily digestible.
  • Skin irritations and stomach issues were resolved for many after changing to this food.

Solid Gold Fit & Fabulous

This is an excellent low-fat product with plenty of protein for healthy muscle. But, of course, when fat is low, calories have to come from somewhere, and in this case, it’s easily digested grains and vegetables.

Primary Ingredients

  • Pollock
  • Pollock Meal
  • Pea Fiber
  • Pearled Barley
  • Brown Rice

Reviews

  • This food received top reviews all around for overweight dogs and those with pancreatitis and most dogs like the food.
  • A couple of customer complaints were due to the addition of chicken fat to the original formula. Some dogs did not appreciate the change.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula

Blue Buffalo has utilized animal nutritionists and holistic vets to develop a blend of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins included in their food formula. This specific formula is grain-free, low-fat dog food made from all-natural ingredients.

Primary Ingredients

  • Deboned chicken
  • Chicken meal
  • Brown Rice
  • Barley

Reviews

  • The majority of customers reported good results with Blue Buffalo. The dogs liked the taste, and the ingredients were low fat and easily digestible.
  • A few commented on their dogs’ dislike for the little nutrient bombs in the food. Of course, the dogs like the food, but they tossed the vitamin pills aside.
  • A couple of complaints were due to particularly odorous flatulence.

American Journey Healthy Healthy Weight

American Journey is manufactured exclusively for Chewy.

Grain-free, low fat, and high protein is a healthy choice for dogs with pancreatitis. But, again, American Journey fills the bill. Along with the list of nutrient-dense ingredients, American Journey is complete with essential vitamins and minerals.

Primary Ingredients

  • Deboned Salmon
  • Turkey Meal
  • Chicken Meal
  • Peas
  • Sweet Potatoes

Reviews

  • Reviews were somewhat mixed. However, most were positive for taste, transitioning from other types of protein without difficulty. In addition, the low-fat formula promoted desired weight loss and value for money.
  • The negatives were directed at packaging, the addition of chicken to the formula, and a few for whom the recipe did not promote the expected poop consistency.

Six Best Commercial Dog Foods for Pancreatitis Provides Options

Not every dog does well on a specific dog food. Dogs with pancreatitis require low fat, nutrient-dense, and easy digestion. All of these commercial brands meet those requirements. Don’t give up if one doesn’t meet the need, as there are five more from which to choose.

Commercial Brand Dog Food

% Fat

% Protein

% Fiber

From Carbs

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Reduced-Fat

10-12

33

12

Merrick Grain-Free Healthy Weight

10

32

5

Nutro Natural Choice Healthy Weight

7-10

24

11

Solid Gold Fit & Fabulous

9.5

26

10

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula

14

24

5

American Journey Healthy Weight

10

30

10

Commercial Dog Foods for Pancreatitis Is an Option

Prescription dog foods have lower fat and protein content, but the non-prescription brands have a higher protein content while maintaining an acceptable fat content of around 10%. In addition, the type of fiber, carbohydrates, and additional nutrients will vary among the brands.

Having easily accessible and affordable food options for your dog when suffering from pancreatitis is essential. Still, your dog may not like a particular food formulation, or the formulation may not agree with it.

Since there are so many brands that you can choose from, you are sure to find a brand and formula that your dog will enjoy.

Is Home-Made Better than Commercial Dog Foods for Pancreatitis?

You want the best nutrition for your pet, and if what he needs is a low-fat diet, you might consider making his food yourself. After all, you know what is low fat and what isn’t.

However, you must consider more than just low fat when bypassing low-fat commercial dog foods and prescription foods formulated for pancreatitis.

  • You need to know the difference between too much fat and not enough fat. Dogs need fat, but unlike people, they don’t have to worry about cholesterol. Fats are only a problem when dogs get too much or, more specifically, too much of the wrong fats without getting enough exercise.
  • The wrong fats are those from your dinner plate, dessert plate, and cookie jar. If you allow too much fat in your dog’s diet, it can trigger inflammation in the pancreas, and the severity may be anywhere in intensity from mild to fatal.
  • Ten to fifteen percent of your dog diet should consist of healthy fats. If your dog is prone to pancreatitis, then fat levels should be around 8-10% of the food you make for your dog. Quality healthy fats are omega-3 fatty acids from fish, canola oil, and flaxseed, while Omega-6 fatty acids are found in pork and chicken fat and vegetable oils.

Luckily, dogs burn fat for energy, but fats are also crucial to nerve function, muscles, cells, and tissues in the canine body. They also help the body absorb nutrients and fight inflammation while keeping your dog’s coat and skin moisturized and shiny.

Fats also play a role in reproduction and hormone production.

Recipes For Homemade Low Fat Dog Food

To make your dog’s food yourself, you’ll need to get all the ratios of fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and nutrients balanced and from quality sources.

Homemade dog food is time-consuming, especially in the beginning when you are sourcing the right ingredients and figuring out the ratios. After that, it gets easier, but you still have to be careful about storage and freshness.

In the Whole Dog Journal, an article by dog nutritionist Mary Straus includes homemade dog food recipes for dogs with pancreatitis and other digestive disorders.

The included recipes were formulated by Steve Brown, Author of Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet: Healthier Dog Food the ABC Way, available at Amazon.com.

Mr. Brown has researched the subject extensively and completed all the preliminary work for you. So, if you want to give homemade food a try, you only need to follow his directions.

There are four different low-fat recipes complete with ingredients, directions, and nutritional breakdown. Included are a chicken recipe, a beef recipe, and one combining both, which can be prepared, cooked, or raw.

The fourth is a chicken with the bone recipe that is intended to be fed raw.

Ms. Straus has also written a book of recipes titled The Healthy Dog Cookbook, which is available on Amazon.com to give you some constructive tips.

You might also want to take a look at these two book reviews we wrote.

Commercial Dog Foods for Pancreatitis Is Only One Step In the Treatment Plan

Your vet will be the first to confirm that your dog has pancreatitis and direct the treatment plan. Based on the symptoms, she may do a blood test that reveals elevated enzymes and an ultrasound to detect damage caused by the inflammation to the pancreas and surrounding area.

Pancreas-Specific Lipase is a highly accurate test for abnormal pancreatic enzymes that might be needed.

You can expect the following steps to be carried out while the dog is hospitalized for a few days.

  1. Your dog will rest the pancreas so it can heal. If the dog is vomiting, food is withheld until nausea stops.
  2. A low-fat and easily digestible dog food is prescribed.
  3. For pain, an analgesic may be needed.
  4. Dehydration brought on by not eating and vomiting is treated with intravenous fluids when needed.
  5. If an infection is suspected, antibiotics will be prescribed.

Most dogs recover nicely with no long-term effects. However, in severe cases and recurring bouts of pancreatitis, digestive enzymes may need to be added to the dog’s food to digest and absorb nutrition.

Untreated, canine pancreatitis will likely be fatal.

Sources

Andrew

My name is Andrew, and I've been around dogs my entire life. Look at my profile picture and, you see me as a little kid with my family's two German Shepherds. That's how my life with dogs started, and ever since, I've been both living and working with dogs.

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