The Norman Transcript

December 6, 2012

Dog with pancreatitis needs low-fat diet

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Dear Dr. Fox: Recently, our 8-year-old miniature schnauzer was diagnosed with pancreatitis. She is now on a diet of Hill’s Prescription i/d low-fat and high-fiber dry food, alternating with w/d. She has about 1 teaspoon cooked sweet potato and 1 teaspoon pumpkin per day. I was giving her two to three drops of fish and flaxseed oil, but I have been told to stop all oils. She can have pain medication twice daily as needed.

Is there a better diet that you would suggest? I understand that schnauzers are prone to get this condition. My daughter has a healthy 3-year-old schnauzer, and she wonders if she should change her diet to the above even though she seems healthy and active.

— V.B., McLean, Va.

Dear V.B.: Pancreatitis is an acute inflammatory condition that may be triggered when dogs are fed fatty table scraps or are on a diet high in fats. Concurrent liver dysfunction also may be evident, as bile from the liver backs up into the pancreas.

Milk thistle and dandelion root herbal products can help improve liver function, and probiotics (always given on an empty stomach) along with a low-fat diet can help improve pancreatic function. Digestive enzymes like those from papaya and pineapple extracts can help compensate for any pancreatic insufficiencies in production of digestive enzymes.

There are home-prepared diets for your dog’s condition available on Your daughter should steer clear of fatty foods and treats for her dog and consider a raw food diet and probiotic supplements.

Dear Dr. Fox: My soon-to-be 11-year-old cocker spaniel, Chance, was diagnosed with congenital heart disease in June. He is on several heart medications and seems to be tolerating them well.

We have blood work taken every three months for kidney valuations. So far, so good — even though his heart specialist told me his life expectancy would be only 1 1/2 more years.

Chance is due for his annual well puppy visit in November — he is then due for a number of injections and lab tests, specifically DHLPP, fecal, HW/lyme/ehrlichia/ana and lyme. He is on rabies medication until July 2015. He has been on heartworm medication all his life. We live on a small piece of property with many deer, but we’ve never had an issue with ticks. We do Frontline monthly.

Does he really need all of this protection? What would be most important? I have never had a dog on so much medication, and I worry about it being too much, especially considering his health conditions.

— S.E., Woodbine, Md.

Dear S.E.: Dogs with various heart diseases can do remarkably well when given the appropriate medications — especially those that are tried and true for human cardiac patients.

Since you do not specify what kind of congenital heart disease your dog has, I cannot offer any specific advice. Your Chance should be on a low-salt diet. Supplements such as CoQ10, fish oil (for omega-3 fatty acids), potassium and magnesium should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Your dog’s blood pressure needs careful monitoring — it is significantly affected by the health of his kidneys; signs of fluid retention, called edema, causing swelling in the abdomen or limbs; and a non-productive cough. Keep him on the lean side. He should not need any DHLPP booster combo-vaccination.

Send all mail to or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.