Avoiding Pancreatitis in Dogs On Thanksgiving Day from Ketopet

Sharing a timely article about pancreatitis in dogs from Ketopet. Please take a moment to read and learn more about this common condition…

KetoPet: We have not seen instances of pancreatitis in the KetoPet dogs as metabolic conditioning is a fundamental part of our protocol. Additionally, what is your opinion of high fat, low net carb diets for active dogs, like sled dogs who also have lower instances of pancreatitis?

Dr. Becker: Some vets call it the Adirondack principle (it could be called the Iditarod theory; in essence sled dogs/high performance dogs that burn tons of calories are fed 80% fat diets with no incidence of pancreatitis, a phenomenon that would never occur otherwise). Dogs whose energy requirements are exceptionally high burn so many calories so quickly that pancreatitis doesn’t occur. We don’t know the mechanism of action as to why this occurs, but it absolutely does. The problems come when sedentary animals are fed high fat diets….the potential recipe for disaster.

dog-eating-turkey-300x250When it comes to our dog family, the day after Thanksgiving is often referred to as Pancreatitis Friday instead of Black Friday. Our dogs often get more than their fair share of table scraps and, some even get to tuck into their own holiday meal. As a result of eating a high fat, non ketogenic meal in combination with a high carbohydrate holiday overload, some dogs may suffer from pancreatitis the day after Thanksgiving.

This weeks article is entitled: “Should I Be Concerned About Pancreatitis with Feeding my Dog a Diet High in Fat?”

What is the Pancreas and What Does it do?
The pancreas is an organ which has two main functions:

1) to produce the hormones insulin and glucagon, which regulate blood sugar levels.

2) to produce digestive enzymes into the digestive system to digest fats, carbohydrates and proteins.

Interestingly, the pancreas also secretes large amounts of bicarbonate which buffers stomach acid.

What Is Pancreatitis?
When the pancreas becomes inflamed, digestive enzymes can leak and cause damage to the pancreas and surrounding tissue. These enzymes can begin to digest the pancreas itself causing pain and discomfort to your dog.
cp_pancreatitis_2

There are two types of Pancreatitis:
Acute Pancreatitis
An acute attack of pancreatitis means it comes on suddenly, with no previous appearance of the condition before. It can become life threatening to other organs if the inflammation spreads.

Chronic Pancreatitis
A chronic condition is one that has developed over time, slowly, and often without symptoms. This condition can result from repeated bouts of acute pancreatitis.

What Causes Pancreatitis?
A common risk factor for dogs is eating trash, table scraps (cooked food) and other species inappropriate food. Other potential causes include severe trauma, surgery, and some medications.

What are the Symptoms?

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Low Body Temperature
  • Diarrhea

cp_pancreatitis_4What is the Treatment?
Pancreatitis can be quite painful so your veterinarian may begin by treating your dog with pain medication, which is usually the first line of action. Then, resting the pancreas to allow it to calm down, no food for 3-4 days followed by small servings of a bland diet. Your veterinarian will also want to make sure that your dog is sufficiently hydrated with electrolytes. It all depends on if your dog has mild or severe pancreatitis. That will determine the standard of care your veterinarian will prescribe.

cp_pancreatitis_8Will My Dog get Pancreatitis on a High Fat, Low Net Carb Diet?
To answer this question, I posed several questions to Dr. Karen Becker, a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian.

Question? Do you think a pancreatitis episode is a combination of the inflammation caused by a diet high in complex carbohydrates in combination with high fat ingestion, so, at KetoPet we aren’t seeing any episodes of pancreatitis because we are removing the pro-inflammatory complex carbohydrate environment?

Dr. Becker: I think it’s a combination of acute calorie reduction, an acute increase in exercise and an acute decrease in inflammation (by eliminating pro-inflammatory carbs).

Question? The diet we feed at KetoPet is raw, so our dogs are getting the necessary enzymes they need, correct?

Dr. Becker: We know a dogs’ pancreas can up and down regulate the amounts of enzymes needed to some extent, based on the diet they consume. It takes the pancreas a while to adapt to dietary changes, hence when a dog eating a high carb diet gets into the grease trap from a BBQ grill pancreatitis is a common result.

Dogs were meant to get 50% of the enzymes they require from their diet (via consuming their prey’s pancreas). Dogs do not produce all the enzymes needed to process their food, so if people don’t supply supplemental digestive enzymes to a dry food (kibble) diet (entirely dead, enzyme depleted food) then predisposed breeds (like Schnauzers, fat dogs and sedentary dogs) also have pancreatitis without a BBQ grease trap incident.!

The reason everyone is asking about pancreatitis in a ketogenic diet is that veterinarians know raw meat and produce contain the naturally occurring enzymes to supplement what the pancreas will produce, but fats don’t contain the necessary enzymes. So, in theory, with the amount of fats the dogs are being fed at KetoPet, feeding pancreatitis could be a problem.

(On a side note, I have recommended clients add digestive enzymes when instituting a ketogenic diet to buy some additional insurance against pancreatitis…..they say they’ll exercise their dogs, but we know about the average American and exercise ).

Question? We have not seen instances of pancreatitis in the KetoPet dogs as metabolic conditioning is a fundamental part of our protocol. Additionally, what is your opinion of high fat, low net carb diets for active dogs, like sled dogs who also have lower instances of pancreatitis?

Dr. Becker: Some vets call it the Adirondack principle (it could be called the Iditarod theory; in essence sled dogs/high performance dogs that burn tons of calories are fed 80% fat diets with no incidence of pancreatitis, a phenomenon that would never occur otherwise). Dogs whose energy requirements are exceptionally high burn so many calories so quickly that pancreatitis doesn’t occur. We don’t know the mechanism of action as to why this occurs, but it absolutely does. The problems come when sedentary animals are fed high fat diets….the potential recipe for disaster.

Question? Do you think it is the combination of metabolic conditioning (exercise), and a high-fat, low net carb, raw diet that has lead to our observations here at KetoPet?

Dr. Becker: Exactly….you are accomplishing the Adirondack principle.

What is the Bottom Line? Can I Feed a High Fat Diet or Not?
The answer is a resounding Yes! – with the following important caveats:

Exercise is key – Now, I am not expecting you to turn your dog into an Iditarod champion. But, remember, food is fuel and the fuel you feed your dog needs to be efficiently and effectively burnt off. The activity level of your dog will determine the amount of fuel you feed.

No (ZERO!) added complex carbs – Try not to mix a high fat diet with added complex carbs. As you transition your dog to a raw, high fat diet, it is okay to mix foods, reducing your dogs existing food over a period of 3-7 days, longer if needed, so that your dog gets used to a raw diet and it is not a shock to their system.

Holiday Time – No matter what kind of diet your dog is on, ketogenic diet or otherwise, be aware of all the tasty temptations your dog may come across during the festive season.  Consult your veterinarian at the first sign of anything unusual going on with your dog. Remember, Dr. Google did not graduate Veterinary School!

As always, we are here if and when you have questions! Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at KetoPet and let’s reserve the Friday after Thanksgiving for shopping and not a trip to the veterinarian.

Yours in good health,

Team KetoPet
www.ketopetsanctuary.com
www.epigenixfoundation.org

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