The Pancreatitis thread


I have two rescue dogs - Max a labrador X aged 11, and Lithia a springer spaniel age 3. I have joined the forum as Max has been diagnosed with pancreatitis and I’m looking for some independent dietry advice on what a low fat diet actually is. I guess I need to post my questions elsewhere on the forum?

Hi Dogmo and welcome,

There is a section for feeding dogs with health problems. I don’t know a great deal about pancreatitis but I am sure any questions you have will be answered by somebody with experience of this.

Good morning Dogmo and welcome to the forum. I am so sorry to hear of your dog’s illness and I do hope that it can be managed with a suitable diet. I hope that you don’t mind but I have merged and moved your threads into the health section because it seemed more suitable there. Also it helps people further down the line when searching for a particular problem.

You don’t mention what you are currently feeding but the best advice I can offer you is to give Nutriment a call. They have a low purine food which is recommended for conditions like this. I am sure they will be able to offer you advice. If you are minded to try it, do not transition at all - just stop his current food and start on the new one. Check with Nutriment but they told me not to feed anything else except their food and perhaps sea jerky for a treat.

If you are minded to try it, please could you keep us up to date with progress? It may be that it will help another member/s with a similar problem.


My 11 year old crossbreed Max has been diagnosed with pancreatitis and we have been told by the vet that he must be fed a Low Fat diet. The problem is that I don’t want to feed the Royal Canin “special” diet that my vet tried to sell me. My vet does not seem to know much about what Max can and can’t have if I don’t feed what they sell, and I have been told that the maximum fat content that Max can have is what the vet read off the packet of the RC (7.5%).

My first question is does the fat content he can have vary depending on whether it is wet food, dry food or raw food? And does anyone know what the percentage is for the different type of food? For example does can of food that has 4% fat actually contain more fat that a 7.5% dry food, because of the moisture content?

In general I would prefer to feed a raw or homecooked diet (or a combination). Raw food has a high moisture content so I fear that actually makes it much higher in fat than it says on the packet, so in terms of raw I’m not sure what he can and can’t have.

Then there will be the times when we are away and I can’t feed raw or home cooked. What good quality low fat wet food is there? Or kibble that can be purchased in small quantities.

At the moment I’m really confused. The diagnosis was a complete shock, and I don’t want to risk another flare up because I’ve inadvertantly fed the wrong thing. Given the potential seriousness of the condition I want to be sure that what I feed is low fat enough, but I just don’t know where to find out that information.

Thank you.

Hi Dogmo,

Since you say you prefer to feed raw, I know of 2 raw complete foods specially formulated to suit dogs with panceatitis, see here:

and here:

Hope that helps.

The pancreas is responsible for the production of insulin which helps break down, and regulates sugar in the blood stream. It has other functions to help us (and dogs) digest our food. Because you don’t want to stress the pancreas it is best to give food that is appropriate and will reduce the stress on it. All dried food contains some sort of filler/carbohydrate which will need to be broken down by the liver and pancreas so it is good that you are thinking on the lines of low fat, raw or home cooked food. I would imagine that with a bit of forethought it can be managed when going away on holiday.

I think you are right not to accept the RC food - I am no expert but it always seems to contain too much filler, carbs and other unwanted things. It may be that your vet will advise against raw - people seem to come across this time and again.

I am sorry I cannot help you in your query about percentages but maybe the customer services department of those raw food companies can help. Hopefully David might see this post and might be able to shed some light on the fat levels. I have been told that of the Nutriment varieties, salmon and turkey are lower in fat.

Regarding home cooked food, I would imagine you would be looking at lean white meat such as chicken, turkey and perhaps fish. Lamb would be a definite no no and beef only if lean.

You may have seen these but here are a couple of websites that might be helpful:
Whole Dog Journal
Dog Food Advisor

Thank you for your replies.

I’m still a bit confused. Has anyone heard of the dry matter basis calculation? The nutrition department at Burns told me about this. Basically in order to be able to compare the fat content in moist food with that in dry food you have to do a calculation which removes the moisture content, so the different types of food are comparable.

For example the Burns weight control kibble has a fat content of 7.5%. There is no moisture content so the fat content is 7.5%. However Burns moist food for example Penlan Farm Chicken and Brown Rice has a fat content of 2.6%, but the moisture content is 78.6%. To compare the fat content in the two types of food I have to take the moisture out of the moist food. The calculation they have given me is to divide the stated fat content - 2.6% by the amount of dry matter (100-78.6) 21.4 and multiply by 100. This means the fat content in the moist food is actually 12.15%, so although it appears to be lower fat than the dry it is actually much higher in fat! If I do this calculation on the Natural Instinct Special diet (which they say is suitable for dogs with pancreatitis) I end up with a fat content of 19.4%!!! Now my instinct is telling me that you can’t actually compare raw wiith kibble. I am emailing Natural Insticnt as well to see if they can clear up my confusion.

The article on the dog food advisor link that Dottie posted suggests that “low fat” is a different percentage depanding on whether it is dry, wet or raw. This approach does seem to make more sense to me, but I can’t find any other literature which confirms this.

Anyway if anyone can clear up my confusion that would be really great.

Many thanks

Wow - I am confused too. That is some very serious calculation. I feel a bit out of my depth with this one so I will send David a private message to see if he can pop into the forum and give some advice.
I telephoned Nutriment earlier today to check about fat content in their foods and was told that low purine, chicken and turkey are the ones that have the lowest fat levels. Salmon was said to be higher, along with beef. Duck is the highest in fat.

I was playing around with this calculation too and am getting my head around it. It looks like some foods like nutriment, are quite high in fat.

When I was trying the calculation I was using the composition of nutriment and coming out with a similar number to the fat stated on the AADF review in the dials.

I must say, I have just ordered some nutrient and was initially put off by the high fat content. I suppose though, as there is so much moisture in it, it works out less when it is fed.

I’m afraid I’m going to complicate this further, by asking if the moisture content of the dry food you’re using as a base for this calculation can possibly be zero?

A dry food with zero moisture would just be dust, I would have thought. Most I have read up on have somewhere around 8 - 10% moisture.

And in any case, can you directly compare cooked and raw fat levels? The point of reducing fat intake in pancreatitis is, to make the food more easily digested by the dog, and I would have thought it perfectly possible that raw fat is more easily digested than cooked (or extruded at high temps, as in a kibble) fat. Certainly, reading the reviews, the Natural Instinct Special Diet has been entirely successful for many dogs with the condition.

David, we need you!

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Hello everyone and apologies for joining the discussion so late.

The generally accepted dietary approach to dealing with pancreatitis is to feed a highly digestible, low fat food in the attempt to reduce the workload on the pancreas. Dottie, you are also quite right that too many fillers or less digestible ingredients are also best avoided.

In order to compare fat contents in different types of foods (dry vs wet vs raw etc) you do indeed have to work out the dry weight value which can be a real headache. Fortunately, we’ve thought of that and every product on the AADF website has a dial for the dry weight fat level in the Nutrition section of the review page. No matter what type of food you’re looking at, these dials can be directly compared.

You can also go to the Dog Food Directory and select the exact dry level fat levels you are looking for in the panel on the left under ‘Nutrient levels’. Again, since these are dry-weight, they work for all foods so no maths is required on your part.

That should make finding a low fat food a lot easier but what is, in my opinion, even more important is to find a food that is easy to digest. Look for a food that has the natural and the hypoallergenic logo highlighted (you can also filter for these under ‘food properties’) and the higher the rating, the more digestible and beneficial we would expect it to be for your dog.

You’ll have plenty of dry options but you won’t find any good quality wet or raw foods with only 7-8% fat (dry matter) due to their high meat content. Nevertheless, you will find a few with around 10-15% fat (which is still considered fairly low) and since the top end raw and wet foods are generally far easier for a dog to process, pancreatitic dogs do tend to do very well on them.

I hope that helps!


Just to add that the lowest fat wet complete I can find is Burns Penlan Farm

and the lowest fat raw complete is Natures Menu

And a link to the full Dog Food Directory…

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Thank you for your replies David. It’s really good to be able to get some independent feeding advice. It’s also good that you’ve cleared up the confusion about the dry matter basis. I was shocked when I started doing the calculation on foods yesterday but at least I now know that I do need to apply it to wet and raw foods and that it wasn’t just a marketing ploy to make me believe that dry food is lower in fat. It is such a relief to have the low fat and fairly low fat percentages clarified so I know what I should be able to safely feed Max. I still can’t believe the vet couldn’t be more help with this. If I have to have the low fat diet converstaion with the vet again I’ll be able to do it with alot more confidence.

It is also good to know that Max will probably do well on one of the fairly low fat raw completes. Natures Menu do now also do a grain free range of raw completes called Country Hunter ( (sorry , but I don’t seem to be alowed to post the link). These work out at about 13.3% fat when the dry matter calculation has been applied. Natures Menu have advised me that the rabbit one is the best for pancreatitis.

Thank you everyone for all your advice on this. I’m alot happier now and hopefully Max’s pancreas will be to!


Thank you for raising this topic which I am sure will be of use to someone else since pancreatitis is probably not so unusual. I have to say that I have learned something new from the information in the thread. I assume that the food that you have selected is this one? It looks like a good choice and I really hope that your dog’s condition is stabilised and even improved by it. Please would you let us know how you get on?

My dog loves that one dogmo. She likes the venison from that range and the banquet one which is tripe

She hasn’t tried the duck one yet. I am sure Max will enjoy his food and not realise that he is on a special diet ;D

Yes Dottie, the link you posted to the rabbit & cranberry nuggets is the one that Max will be having.

Tinyplanets - the banquet one is quite alot higher in fat so Max won’t be having that one. He will be trying the venison one at some point though.

Sorry to post again, but I am a little confused again. This may be another one for David.

Earlier David posted a link to the Natures Menu Complete Meals Adult, which show a fat content of 13.3% on the blue dial. I had been recommended another raw complete by Natures Menu, the Country Hunter Rabbit, I had done the dry matter calculation myself and I came up with 13.3%. However when I looked up the country hunter nuggets on the dog food directory, the blue dial shows the fat content as being 20%. For both of these types of raw complete the listed fat content is 4%, and the moisture content is 70%, so surely (if I have done the calculation correctly) both types of meal will have a fat content of 13.3%.

If someone could clear this up for me that would be great.

Thank you.

No need to apologise - getting my head round this is good for delaying dementia! LOL. I got the same figure as you. Looking at the rabbit variety (as per link) it looks something like this:

Moisture is 70% so that leaves 30% dry matter.
Divide 4% fat by the dry matter
Multiply by 100 = 13.33%

Unfortunately I can’t help you with coming to an understanding of this so as you say, I think it is one for David and he will probably pick up on it when he gets the chance to pop into the forum. Meanwhile, as he says, regardless of fat content, that particular food is easily digested and should reduce the load on the pancreas.

I’m certain the calculation of 13.33% is correct, and the dial doesn’t show 20% when I look at it, it’s not easy to read but it looks more like about 14%.

Are you sure you’re not just reading the number shown on the dial? I think that’s not the result, just the max number the dial goes up to…

Thats what confused me as the rabbit and the tripe one was showing a similar fat content on the dials.

Ah that might explain a lot George.