Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog.

Pancreatitis and Diet

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. One of the functions of the pancreas is to release enzymes to help digest food. When the pancreas becomes inflamed, it releases enzymes in excess and begins to digest its own tissue. This creates trauma and pain to the dog. Symptoms of pancreatitis include loss of appetite, vomiting, arching of the back with stomach pain, diarrhea, dehydration, and in some cases jaundice.

Blood Panel Results

While pancreatitis is hard to diagnose, blood laboratory panels will often show elevated amylase and lipase, increased glucose, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and high liver enzymes, including ALT and ALP. If pancreatitis is suspected due to the above symptoms, a trip to the veterinarian is recommended immediately. The first stage of treatment is hospitalization for several days with IV fluid therapy, treatment of pain, and withholding food and water.

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For more information on symptoms and early treatment:



Causes of Pancreatitis

Fat is usually blamed when a dog develops pancreatitis. However, this isn’t quite true. High fat diets can aggravate a diseased pancreas, but fat itself does not usually cause pancreatitis. The exact reasons for pancreatitis are not known, but research shows the following factors may contribute to pancreatitis:

  • A genetic condition called hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol and/or triglycerides), often found in Miniature Schnauzers, Briards and Shetland Sheepdogs.


  • Hypercalcemia, caused by parathyroid conditions or over supplementing with calcium.


  • Drug induced pancreatitis. Some of the drugs that are known or suspected to cause pancreatitis include steroids (such as prednisone), tetracyclines and other sulfonamide antibiotics, metronidazole (flagyl), azothiaprin (imuran), estrogen, long acting antacids (cimetidine/Tagament, ranitidine/Zantac) and Tylenol. Also included are diuretics (thiazides and furosemide) and some chemotherapy drugs including l-asparaginase.


  • Insecticides (commonly used in the yard) including organophosphates.


  • Cushing’s Disease (hyperadrenocorticism), hypothyroidism, liver disease and diabetes can cause a tendency to develop pancreatitis.


  • While it has been indicated that disc disease or spinal cord injuries may cause pancreatitis, it may be more likely that steroids are the real cause, as this is the most common drug used for these conditions.




Types of Pancreatitis

Please note that pancreatitis comes in two forms, acute and chronic.

Acute is usually restricted to one incident, and often the cause can be discovered, such as a certain drug reaction or illness. Most pancreatic incidents occur only once.

Chronic pancreatitis is when several acute occurrences happen over time. This may be due to factors such as hyperlipidemia, hypothyroidism or other underlying disease conditions, or when the pancreas suffers substantial damage during an acute pancreatitis attack.

Obese dogs are more prone to this condition, so it is important to keep dogs lean and give them physical exercise daily.

Diet Factors of Pancreatitis

While fat is often not the initial cause of pancreatitis, it is necessary to reduce the amounts of fat in the diet for a dog recovering from pancreatitis so as to not to over stimulate the pancreas. The pancreas is in control of insulin production, which controls blood glucose regulation. Often dogs with diabetes can be prone to pancreatitis, and pancreatitis can lead to diabetes. In cases like these, it would also be a good idea to watch the amount of sugar in the diet. This would include high glycemic (sugar containing) vegetables, fruits and honey.

To reduce the work load on the pancreas following an attack of pancreatitis, a low fat diet is recommended and several small meals spread over the day is preferred. Smaller, more frequent meals help glucose levels remain more stable and reduce the load of foods at one serving to decrease the enzyme activity of the pancreas.

In acute cases of pancreatitis, once supportive care is given and the dog recovers fully, they can usually gradually return to their normal diet. In some chronic cases, pancreatin enzymes may need to be given for life so that food can be digested properly.

The diet recommendations I have listed below are for after the dog has recovered from a pancreatic attack, and in most cases are only needed for a few days or weeks. If the dog is prone to chronic pancreatitis, they may well need to be kept on a low fat diet all their life and fed several small frequent meals a day. In that event, if home-cooked diets are fed (absent raw meaty bones), calcium needs to be added to the diet. Give at 800 mg per pound of food served. For short term use (less than a month), this is not necessary. Please remember to follow up with your veterinarian for advice on your dog’s recovery and health needs. Periodic checkups and blood panel levels are recommended to monitor health.

50% of the diet should include low fat animal proteins such as:

– White meat chicken (which is lower in fat than dark meat), with skin and excess fat removed.

– Lean or low fat hamburger, and if cooked, drain excess fat (boiling will remove most of the fat).

– Beef heart or roast, with excess fat removed.

– Beef kidney and liver (small amounts).

– Egg whites

– Low fat or nonfat plain yogurt or cottage cheese

25% of the diet should be low glycemic vegetables, such as:

– Broccoli or cauliflower

– Summer squash, such as yellow crookneck or zucchini

– Dark leafy greens, such as romaine lettuce, collard greens, mustard greens, spinach

– Cabbage

These vegetables must be cooked or pureed (in a food processor) in order to be digestible by dogs.

25% of the diet can be higher starch foods such as:

– Sweet potatoes, white potatoes

– Oatmeal, rice or barley. These will hopefully add calories lost by feeding a low fat diet.

These foods must be cooked, and grains are more easily digestible if overcooked a little.

To each meal, add digestive enzymes and beneficial bacteria. The Berte’s Digestion Blend is great for this, as it contains a full spectrum of enzymes including pancreatin, acidophilus and l-glutamine which helps fight inflammation in the digestive tract.


Recipe Examples

(For a fifty pound dog, to be fed in three or four portions daily)

Recipe #1:

2 cups of cooked beef heart chunks, fat drained

1/2 cup cooked broccoli

1/2 cup cooked sweet potato

1/2 teaspoon of Berte’s Digestion Blend


Recipe #2

1-1/2 cup of cooked chicken breast

1/2 cup of low or nonfat plain yogurt

1/2 cup cooked zucchini

½ cup white potato

1/2 teaspoon of Berte’s Digestion Blend


Recipe #3

1-1/2 cup of boiled lean hamburger, fat drained

1/2 cup cooked beef kidney, fat trimmed

1/2 cup of yellow crookneck squash

1/2 cup of oatmeal

1/2 teaspoon of Berte’s Digestion Blend


Recipe #4

1-1/2 cup cooked white meat turkey

1/2 cup low or nonfat cottage cheese

1/2 cup cooked Broccoli

1/2 cup cooked rice

1/2 teaspoon of Berte’s Digestion Blend

As your dog improves, you may add vitamin E, vitamin C, and B complex and EPA fish oil. This may take from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the severity of the condition. Add EPA fish oil at 1,000 mg per 20 pounds of body weight daily, plus vitamin C, vitamin E and a B complex. A fifty pound dog would get about 500 mg of vitamin C, 400 IU of vitamin E and a B-50 complex.

If these recipes are to be fed longer than a month, then add 800-1000 mg of calcium per pound of food served (2 cups of food is approximately one pound). You can use ground eggshell at the rate of 1/2 teaspoon per pound of food, or feed plain Tums, both of which are calcium carbonate. You should also include liver as part of a long term diet. Give about 1 ounce a day or 2 ounces every other day to a 50 pound dog.

Supplements that B-Naturals carry that are recommended for dogs with pancreatitis include Berte’s Digestion Blend, EPA Fish Oil and Berte’s Daily Blend.


4th of July Tips for Dogs

Many dogs are scared of fireworks so the 4th of July can be a very scary and stressful time for them. Here are some suggestions for dogs with noise sensitivity:

– Keep dogs indoors and play music or keep the TV on loud

– Melatonin, given at 1.5 mg to 3 mg every 8 hours, best given PRIOR to the fireworks event by at least 20 minutes

See www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-angels.com/melatonin.htm for more information.

– Have your dog wear a tee shirt or sweatshirt that fits snug against the body. This can help with anxiety and calm your dog. There is also a pre-made garment for dogs called an Anxiety Wrap that can be found at www.anxietywrap.com.

– Spray a dilution of a few drops of lavender oil mixed with water in the air around the dog. It can also be applied to the ear leather and belly.