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Pancreatitis in Dogs

Pancreatitis is something

Once again this post is a recap of our discussion on the podcast, so please also listen to Number 10. However, it also includes an update on some research I want to share with you. And explains why I disagree on the current conventional thinking on the causes and treatment of pancreatitis in dogs. 

Importantly,  a lot of this is conjecture so I am really looking forward to feedback from you, our pack to help us learn evolve and improve. I will follow up again on this post when I have spoken further to some of those forward thinking vets. I believe its really important to pursue this topic for 3 reasons.

  1. If what we suspect is true, nearly all pancreatitis is avoidable.
  2. If what we suspect is true nearly all pancreatitis is reversible. Especially if it is caught earlier. The earlier the better.
  3. If what we suspect is true, the traditional culprits (fat) may not be the culprits,  but have been merely scapegoated or all branded with the same iron.

But before we dive into that,  let’s start at the beginning.

What is the pancreas ? :

The pancreas is a clever little organ that sits between the stomach and the liver. It has two main functions, to produce insulin (which regulates blood sugar) and also digestive enzymes to help dogs digest their food. One of these is called Lipase, which helps digest fats.

What is Pancreatitis?& What causes it?:

Like any other “itis”, Pancreatitis (CF Maxwell for correct pronunciation) , Pancreatitis is an inflammatory condition. The pancreas becomes inflamed and stops producing enough enzymes or starts attacking itself.

Symptoms include, lethargy, rapid weight loss despite normal or increased eating pattern, inability to digest fats (not enough lipase), vomiting, amongst others.

Importantly here , it seems a lot more dogs suffer from this than previously realised as it is quite difficult to diagnose definitively without a blood test.

Causes are believed to include diabetes, genetic likelihood, auto immune reactions where the body attacks it own pancreas cells, and physical blockages in the ducts. Other causes can include some medications such as anti seizure drugs and antibiotics.

NB : I am far from suggesting that you avoid all medication. I am arming you with the facts so if you ever need to give these to your pooch, you can “manage all the angles”

And this is where I wander out onto that limb….

I AM CONVINCED that Kibble, higher sugar diets and poor quality (omega 6 & oxididised) fats are the main culprits for this condition. CONVINCED


A high carb diet is super demanding on both the insulin requirement AND the digestive enzymes that a dog needs to break down the food. This can tax the pancreas with a huge workload which I believe leads to fatigue and failure.

Especially, because dogs produce very little amylase (as previously covered) which is needed to break down carbohydrate (starches).  We believe they should be on a raw protein and fats diet only. (with a percentage of vegetables).

Cooked food, Kibble notably as it is highly processed and therefore totally devoid of enzymes requires more enzymes digest form the dog’s pancreas. More fatigue.

High sugar is associated with high inflammation.

There is an inflammation “loop” between the gut and the pancreas which prevents the pancreas producing enough enzymes when the gut is inflamed, which makes the inflammation in the gut worse…which shuts down more enzyme production…repeat…

High grain is associated with high inflammation.

High grain is also associated with leaky gut. Which can allow the bacteria in the gut to leak into the bloodstream and create more inflammation in the pancreas. And elsewhere. Everywhere elsewhere.

Poor quality , higher Omega 6 and oxidised fats are associated with inflammation. Back to the feedback loop.

Inflammation from all causes and (proven by extensive research) especially grains is now linked to LEAKY GUT

LEAKY GUT is strongly linked with Pancreatitis.

If this wasn’t enough, inflammation itself is known to create the poor expression of genes. That means if your dog has a genetic likelihood for a certain condition, for example Pancreatitis, then this is likely to happen if it is constantly inflamed. Or in other terms, constantly fed kibble or other high sugar, high grain , highly processed foods which contain rancid fats.

In summary I believe that there are at least 5 highly plausible, highly researched reasons that Kibble is a major cause of Pancreatitis.

In fact, lets revise that. In summary, I cannot see how Kibble does not cause this condition. It hits nearly every point on the map for potential causes.

You can now understand why I don’t believe that simply cutting down on fats is going to make this go away. It’s only a specific type of fats (the bad ones!) that can contribute to this condition. And some fats (quality Omega 3) can arguably make the condition better. Especially if you reduce stress on the pancreas with digestive enzymes.

The previous thought process that fats create this condition may have simply confused the symptom (trouble digesting fats) with the causes. Not being able to digest fat is a sign that the pancreas can no longer produce enough enzymes.

Without fats the dog cannot make it hormones for happiness and health.

Dogs who are prone to Pancreatitis include Miniature Schnauzers and German Shepherds, amongst many more. But this information is relevant to everyone who wants a healthier dog. Of any breed.

There’s a link from Dr Becker on this at the bottom of this article.

And if you wanted to see some of how this effects us all as humans then please see the link at the bottom of this post from Chris Kresser.

In fact if you want to discuss your own health, I am going to offer a free 20 minute consultation to any of our Bella and Duke Pack starting from Wednesday 11th April.  I can only hold a maximum of five  20 minute slots a week,  so contact me on rowan@themodernsensei.com to book yours now.

What do I believe you should do if you suspect your dog has Pancreatitis?

  1. Always seek the advice of a Animal Health Professional. One you believe in. Hopefully your vet fits this bill.  You can ask for a Blood  PIL test to confirm. (on your dog not the Vet)
  2. Switch to a low inflammation, highly NON processed source of food for your dog . Think Raw BARF.
  3. Remove all grains from the diet
  4. Remove all starches other than some vegetables and a very few berries
  5. Remove all processed or Omega 6 fats where possible.
  6. Include Omega 3 fats and essentially supplement with the below.
  7. Include Digestive enzymes with Lipase.
  8. Start supplementing with Probiotics.
  9. START BADGERING ME to get our source of both of these up and running as soon as possible. I am holding myself responsible for this, help keep me accountable !

I am so passionate about finding out more and understanding why. So please send in your topics and we will all do what we can to help improve the life of your pets. And hopefully yours too.

Lets spread the message and start making a real difference. One that matters. NOW.

Thanks for reading and I hope this has helped you.


The Little-Known Connection between Leaky Gut, Gluten Intolerance, and Gallbladder Problems




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