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Aug 16, 2014 01:28 PM

I'm cooking lowfat for my elderly dog, post-pancreatitis and thought I'd share

My 15 y.o. dog (a Puli) had lost about 20% of her body weight from one annual exam to another. I wanted to get some of that weight on her so started adding different things to her food. Basically forgetting that I already knew that high fat foods can cause pancreatitis. Sure enough, she got realy sick. I thought we were going to lose her. So two days at the vet and $1500 later she was feeling a lot better. But she was having none of the lowfat canned food the vet sent home with her. So I was adding some boiled chicken, broth, jarred baby food, nonfat cottage and on and on. And she was eating it but honestly it was a pain. So perhaps a week ago I made up a batch of food that had one cup each of coarsely chopped chicken, chicken broth (really just chicken flavored water), boiled potato and green peas. I started with just the chicken and half the broth in the FP and after getting them pretty mushy added the potato, peas and the rest of the broth. Blended til it was pale green throughout so I knew the peas were completely broken down. She scarfed it down! In our 15 years together, I've never seen her eat like this. I'm now adding a small amount of kibble and some cottage cheese. She gets a smaller amount in the morning cause she's never wanted all that much and a larger amount at dinner. And NOW she follows me into the kitchen every time I go wanting more :) So I give her another tablespoon or two for snacks. Will weigh her Monday and see what's happening. Other batches I've subbed rice for the potato and spinach for the peas. Loved 'em. Later today I'm going to try some broccoli and another batch I'll try subbing sweet potato for the potato/rice.

I'm sharing this in case any of the rest of you ever have to deal with something like this. I'll likely stick with the chicken as it's cheap and lowfat but would be interested in any other starches or vegetables that you've tried.

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  1. It's great you found something that works. I know what it's like caring for an elderly dog and worrying that every little hiccup causes weight loss, and how important it is to keep their reserves.
    I did lots of poached/roast chicken and veggies batches!

    1. We were adopted by a stray dog with serious intestinal issues. When he came to us, he tolerated zero corn which pretty much ruled out most commercial dog foods. If he wasn't such a sweet animal, he would have been a royal PITA. As he aged, he became more and more difficult to feed. We hit on eggs with chicken + broth and rice as foods he could tolerate well. If you use just the egg white to keep it low-fat, this may be helpful to you also. We would add carrots from time to time as well as peas. The vet was pleased and this wonderful dog lived to be +/- 14 years old. Best of luck with your cute dog, c.oliver.

      17 Replies
      1. re: Sherri


        I like the carrot idea alot. I'm also freezing this as we're going to be away for almost three weeks in about a month. We have petsitters who've been there before and I don't want them to have to do everything, although she's a wonderful vegan cook. I've tasted it and if I added some salt it wouldn't be bad at all. I figure once Bob and I are "in the home" and have lost all our teeth, this might work for us also :)

        1. re: c oliver

          My neighbor, who is a good cook, dropped by and asked "what are you cooking, it smells great".... It was dog food...

          1. re: c oliver

            Our (now passed) dog had a nasty case of pancreatitis - she got into the garbage and ate the skin from about five pounds of chicken thighs -- and in aftercare instructions the vet cautioned us to go easy on the carrots, her favorite treat, because of the sugar content. Just throwing that out there, because it's not something you want to deal with more than once.

            For her treats, we would slide a can of that awful rubber food out (like canned cranberry sauces), slice it semi-thin, and bake. Bless her, she ate the makeshift biscuits like a trouper.

            1. re: harrie

              That is a MUCH better idea than trying to create a balanced medical pet diet at home. If the purchased ration is refused, usually a bit of enticement, like boiled skinless chicken (depending on the condition from which the pet suffers) added to it will get them to accept it, and it may be possible to wean the pet off the additional fillips.

              1. re: greygarious

                With veterinary guidance it's not hard to feed a balanced diet for an animal. And at the point in life that my dog is, getting her to eat ANYTHING is the goal. She was to the point that she wasn't eating. Period.

                1. re: c oliver

                  Edited: Just found that probiotics can worsen outcomes during acute pancreatitis:


                  1. re: c oliver

                    I support that notion. Calories in was my goal for my elderly buddy when it was tough to keep weight on.
                    Of course, you want to make the best choices you can, but it really does come down to getting calories in and hopefully, enjoyment for your dog.

              2. re: c oliver

                do be careful with carrots -- we've been warned by vets in 2 countries to limit the carrots because of their effect on blood sugar -- apparently it is like eating candy to a dog.

                1. re: sunshine842

                  Thanks, sun :) I'll put that on my list of things to talk about. Not hard to leave that out. I wonder if other things that grow "down below" have that issue. Opinions? BTW, the lady sucked down more food for dinner than I've ever seen and then following me into the kitchen for more :)

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Mine like frozen green beans -- also recommended by the vet for the big lug of a lab who would eat until he burst (fiber, low-cal, low-fat, and fills him up)

                    I also give the lab the raw stalks from broccoli and cauliflower -- he loves gnawing them and begs for broccoli (go figure!)

                    **caution** I know some dogs, like some people, have, erm, unpleasant gastrointestinal issues with raw cruciferous veggies...Mine don't, but proceed with caution. A friend of mine swears her dog could have peeled paint after she gave him raw broccoli....

                    1. re: sunshine842

                      LOL. Our lab, Levi, had, er, that issue :) Even without the broccoli. Our vet friend said 'well, if you also give him broccoli, don't complain' :) We had a big party after we married each other the second time. It got down to the last ten or so people sitting around in the living room. Levi and his sister Trudy were sound asleep on the floor nearby when Levi ripped one :) Suddenly everyone needed to get home :) Good memory. So, yeah, be careful with the broccoli.

                      ETA: Even without broccoli, Levi had this 'issue' so when friends were coming over for dinner, we put Beano on his food :)

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        I love the labs. They are true chowhounds. Gulp, gulp, gulp. I'm done. Got any more of that. I don't care what kind of food you give me.

                        1. re: emglow101

                          It's so great having food motivated dogs.
                          Actually, a bit of a blessing and a curse, but come feeding time, it's put food in bowl and be done with it!

                    2. re: sunshine842

                      how good to know. that must be why I love cooked carrots so much!

                    3. re: c oliver

                      This might be a useful article, lots of commercial food reccos for a dog with pancreatitis episodes.

                      I would definitely avoid starches and use non starch veggies for any living critter with pancreatitis. Some very strange reccos for glucose and grains for dogs out there, not wise.

                      I humans, I know that total food restriction is often used for a time to allow the pancreas to rest.

                      1. re: mcf

                        Yes, dogs with pancreatitis are hospitalized NPO until they are past the crisis. It's sad that so avoidable a condition happens so often. People either don't know better than to give dogs a lot of fatty food, or aren't careful enough about keeping their dogs out of the leftovers and garbage. It's an extremely painful ailment, and too often people who cannot afford the hospitalization and supportive care either have their pet put down or, worse, take it home to suffer, thinking it will get better without professional care.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          My dog while at the vets was offered canned food. They knew she was feeling better when she actually ate some. My point of this thread is to discuss WHAT foods. That's all. I don't like any discussions here where medical advice is given. Human or otherwise.

                  2. Here's the recipe for what I'm feeding my 12+ year old dog:

                    6 cups of water
                    8 ounces rice
                    6 pounds of 85/15 ground beef (or lower fat beef, turkey, chicken or fish)
                    1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
                    1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
                    10 ounces chopped green vegetable (frozen broccoli is my favorite)
                    1 pound cooked winter squash * or a 15 oz can of pumpkin
                    1 pound boiled sweet potato *
                    2 cups triple strength chamomile tea, cooled
                    2 tablespoons calcium carbonate
                    * preferably frozen

                    Bring the water to a boil in a large (8 quart) pot. Add rice and stir. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add hamburger (break up as you add it), stir well. Add garlic and cinnamon. Make sure there are no clumps of rice sticking at the bottom. Simmer, continue to stir every 5 to 10 minutes until the meat is done. Add the green vegetables and cook another 1 to 10 minutes, until just cooked. Remove from heat, add squash and sweet potato. Put the pot in a sink full of cold water. Stir every so often to distribute to mix in the squash and potatoes and to help cool. When fairly cool, add tea and calcium, stir well. Package into containers and refrigerate or freeze. (For my 62 lb dog, this makes 8 1/2 days of food)

                    I do add some natural vitamin supplements I get from the vet but he's been eating some variant of this for 3 years now and doing fine. The vet encouraged me to do the home cooking and has recommended all the ingredients. I have learned he is very allergic to chicken. Also, I use low oxalate vegetables due to bladder stone issues (and is why I boil the sweet potatoes separately). Choice of the meat will impact the fat level, dogs do need fat (when doing fish, I alternate with beef), although how much depends on health issues.

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: firecooked

                      Good point about not going TOO low fat. What's the point of the tea and calcium carbonate please? Do you chop or mash the squash and potato? I'm liking the idea A LOT of doing a much larger portion like you do. She's liking this so much that it seems like I'm doing it every few days :) TIA. PS: She weighed 30-32# before this and wasn't overweight.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Dogs require calcium in their diet, and would get it from bones in a raw diet. The tea is supposed to both calm the dog and be soothing for the stomach. I am not convinced it does anything, but what we are doing works so I don't change. I cube the potatoes then boil, so they are pretty soft. And when I freeze them, I put into baggies and press the air out, so they are pretty mashed. For squash (haven't used in a while, as I have been able to get canned pumpkin), I would bake halved squash until soft, then scrape out of the skin. The dog loves both pumpkin and sweet potatoes.

                      2. re: firecooked

                        Your vet recommended garlic? That's odd.

                        "Onions and garlic in all forms -- powdered, raw, cooked, or dehydrated -- can destroy a dog's red blood cells, leading to anemia. That can happen even with the onion powder found in some baby food. An occasional small dose is probably OK. But just eating a large quantity once *********or eating smaller amounts regularly********* can cause poisoning. Symptoms of anemia include weakness, vomiting, little interest in food, dullness, and breathlessness." (Emphasis added.)


                        1. re: mcsheridan

                          The vet said that in this low a dose it was ok (I asked, as I am familiar with the list of foods that you should not feed your dog) and is a good prebiotic. I don't use it all the time.

                          I would also recommend discussing any home cooked diet for your dog with your vet first. And, I would not be doing this if the dog did not have multiple health and food sensitivities, but in doing this, I have gotten over my fear of giving dogs "people" food, and (if there is a next dog) I won't hesitate to supplement their kibble with meat and cooked vegetables.

                          1. re: firecooked

                            With the exception of things they just shouldn't eat, I'd not worry all that much about giving dogs "people food". I just think how many millennia dogs lived with humans before anyone thought to make special dog food for them.



                            1. re: mcsheridan

                              Agree... there has been so much propaganda from the pet food industries, reinforced by vets (who I'm sure make very good margin on the pet food they sell) about *never* feeding dogs scraps. Of course, people shouldn't be eating a lot of "people food"... I'm thinking of cheetos, fast food, soda, cupcakes, etc. etc.

                              1. re: mcsheridan

                                I'm just trying to focus on what one is cooking for their dogs and not so much a discussion of vets except when it comes to ingredients.

                              2. re: firecooked

                                I've fed only kibble unless there were a specific need for 'people food.' Our Airedale tends to have a sensitive stomach so she gets yogurt in her food.

                            2. re: firecooked

                              One other thing... It takes two and a half days for a container to thaw, so there are always three containers in the fridge.. Empty one, pull another out of the freezer (except when I'm planning to make more).

                              1. re: firecooked

                                What size containers do you use please?

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  Ziploc 4 cup containers, I am currently putting ~ 1 lb, 7 oz in each one. He gets half a container in the morning, the other half for dinner. At one point, when he was more active and eating more fish, I would put closer to 1 lb, 10oz per container. (And yes, I do use a scale to partition out the containers). Fortunately the dishwasher cleans the beef fat out of them!

                                  1. re: firecooked

                                    Wow, what does your dog weigh?!?!? :)

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      62 pounds.. It looks like a lot, but the mix has a lot of water in it. Also, it was a real shot in the dark on how much to feed (my guy is really a chow hound, and would each whatever you put down, so I could go by his appetite). That's why I frequently weigh him.

                                      1. re: firecooked

                                        Yeah, Woofy's serving sizes look HUGE to me compared to what she used to be eating but a fourth of the mix is water.

                            3. My dogs are more middle-aged than elderly but they get regular infusions of squash. Mostly butternut - I freeze cubes, then microwave with a touch of water. I also use zucchini, mainly shredded, broken off from a frozen slab. They sometimes get a little bit of bacon fat and/or a scrambled egg. Hell, these mutts eat better than many people!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: tcamp

                                "TOTES" re eating better :) Re the hard squash, do you cook, freeze and then reheat? Same re the zuke? I'm meeting with the vet on Monday re my other dog, my avatar, and will flesh out what she thinks. Thanks.

                              2. My Rhodesian Ridgeback also got pancreatitis from stealing tons of chicken, skin bones and all. He was a very sick boy. The bones passed right through but the pancreatitis almost killed him. I also had him on a low fat diet - he at the kibble but I had to add low fat cottage cheese or yogurt. I hope your dog gets better soon!! It can be along haul afterward.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: wincountrygirl

                                  After two days of IV and antibiotics she bounced right back. But wasn't keen on the kibble and wouldn't touch the canned food they sent. That's why I started doing the 'this and that.' But cooking for us is much easier. And I think I'm going to increase the quantities as mentioned above so I'm not doing it three times a week :) The little vulture!