I am a bit confused about what to do with my dog, Jim. He is a six-year-old Springer Spaniel, and was recently diagnosed with pancreatitis. My vet has advised me to feed a low-fat diet to help prevent a recurrence, but with so many foods around I’m at a loss to know what’s right. I cannot understand the nutritional information completely, especially faced with a choice of both dry and wet foods. Are there any natural remedies that might help too?
Tim Couzens advises...
Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, which can be associated with severe gastric upsets and may also be triggered by the ingestion of excess amounts of fatty foods. It can also be linked with some forms of liver disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In its acute form it can be life threatening, with symptoms that include intense pain, abdominal swelling, vomiting, diarrhoea and collapse. In its chronic form there tends to be recurring bouts of the acute form, but with symptoms that are often less marked.
In essence, the key to prevention is avoiding diets that are high in fat. It’s here that the difficulty lies, especially when comparing different types of food. Reading directly from the pet food labels, it’s not possible to compare the oil or fat levels due to variation in the moisture content of the foods.
For example, dry pet foods contain, on average, around eight per cent moisture, while wet foods (cans, trays and pouches) contain around 75 to 80 per cent. To enable a direct comparison you have to look at the levels of dietary fat on what is called a ‘dry matter’ (DM) basis – basically a comparison with the water content removed. To obtain this information you’ll need to look on each manufacturer’s website as this information is not included in the nutritional panel on the side of the pack. For pancreatitis, you’re looking for a fat or oil level on a DM basis of less than 12 per cent or thereabouts.
There are a couple of homoeopathic remedies that can help. Phosphorus 6c on a daily basis can act as a preventative, and Iris 30c can be used to treat flare-ups if given three times daily until things settle down.