My Dog Has Pancreatitis. Can a Raw Dog Food Diet Help?

While it’s true that our dogs are carnivores, it’s important to note that they are also very resourceful scavengers and, as such, can survive eating foods that are essentially detrimental to their health and longevity.  Yes, your dog can live off of kibble and canned pet foods (which are high in carbohydrates) and they may even appear to be quite healthy and happy on this type of diet for the first few years.

But here’s something important that I must share with you.  In my 30+ years experience of formulating and feeding raw food diets for zoo carnivores, racing greyhound, and household dogs and cats, I’ve come in contact with many different breeds, conditions, styles of feeding, and opinions from pet parents, vets, and specialists.  Yet one of the things that is constant and remains very clear is the fact that the signs of degenerative disease most often appear in dogs around the age of 5-6 years old that are fed a commercial pet food diet.  Unfortunately pancreatitis is one such degenerative disease.

What is Canine Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis literally means ‘inflammation of the pancreas’.  A dog that has been diagnosed with pancreatitis is essentially suffering from an inflamed pancreas that is either damaged or stressed, which prevents it from functioning properly.

The pancreas has two functions: first, it has a major role in the regulation of the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, and secondly, it produces digestive enzymes.  When the pancreas releases enzymes prematurely, they begin to digest the pancreas itself.  This is what we see in cases of pancreatitis in dogs.  Signs of pancreatitis in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain.  If pancreatitis is suspected, your veterinarian will most likely conduct a blood test to check to see if your dog’s enzyme levels are elevated.  They may also request a CT scan, ultrasound, or MRI for further confirmation of the disease.

Canine pancreatitis can range from mild, moderate, or severe.  If left untreated, this disease can cause various health complications – such as damage to the surrounding organs, heart arrhythmias, sepsis, or Malabsorption Syndrome – some of which can be fatal.

What Causes Pancreatitis in Dogs?

Canine pancreatitis is usually seen in middle-aged dogs that have spent a lifetime being fed a diet mainly consisting of cooked and processed foods.  Some alternative veterinarians believe it is because high-carbohydrate based pet foods, which are hard for pets to digest, overstress the pancreas, quickly depleting its enzyme reserves.

Pets on steroid treatments (which are commonly used to treat allergies in dogs or canine arthritis) are also susceptible to developing pancreatitis, as are overweight or obese dogs.  Dogs that are regularly fed table scraps, which are usually very high in fat, are also susceptible.

The common anti-seizure medication, potassium bromide, taken by epileptic dogs to treat epileptic seizures has also been linked to increased instances of pancreatitis in dogs.   However, not all dogs with pancreatitis contract the disease from food or medication.  Certain breeds are more prone to contract the disease, such as Yorkshire terriers and Schnauzers.

How to Treat Pancreatitis in Dogs

The common treatment for pancreatitis in dogs is the use of medication to treat the various symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea.  Conventional veterinarians will usually prescribe a prescription dog food or recommend feeding a bland, low fat dog food.  Unfortunately, these diets are high in carbohydrates and not very appetizing for the animal.

It has been my experience that feeding a natural, raw food diet is very beneficial when treating pancreatitis in dogs.  Raw, uncooked foods contain an abundance of live, active enzymes.  These living enzymes help with the digestion process, and also reduce stress on the pancreas that is forced to produce additional enzymes to break down the food. This makes a raw food diet the best dog food for pancreatitis.

Again, it’s important to remember that dogs with pancreatitis should be fed a low fat dog food in order to reduce further aggravation to the pancreas.  Stay away from meat proteins that are high in fat, such as lamb and pork.  Instead, feed meats that are lower in fat, like chicken or beef – and if they are raw and uncooked, it is even better.

I’ve seen firsthand how effective it is to feed the BARF Diet (aka biologically appropriate raw food) to dogs suffering from pancreatitis.  It improves their appetite, digestion, and absorption of nutrients.  Here’s a recent testimonial from one of my clients who decided to feed raw to her pancreatic dog – you’ll be amazed by her story…

I cant thank you all enough for saving Charlie’s life! Our doggie just turned 7 and he became so ill that he almost didn’t recover.

End of July 2013 he was shaky and couldn’t hold his head up or go near water or food. We rushed him to the hospital and discovered he was diabetic with his glucose at 800. The vet said we have 2 choices, to either administer insulin every 12 hours for the rest of his life or have him put down (that was never going to happen). So he stayed in ICU for 7 days and finally came home. Two weeks ago, my mom called and said Charlie is vomiting uncontrollably and has diarrhea also, so I rushed him to his vet and after blood work he was diagnosed with pancreatitis.

The range is to be under 200 and his was 839. The vet gave him tons of injections and sent him home with tons of anti-biotics and many other meds. A week later he started vomiting again and I rushed him back to his vet. Blood work was repeated and his pancreatitis range was now at 1000. The vet called me in with the saddest look on his face and asked what my plan was for Charlie. I began hysterically crying as I couldn’t imagine our life without him.

The vet said he will go home with way more anti-biotics and meds than before and IV’s 2 x a day. He also thought it may be pancreatic cancer. I left there and called Evan at Barf world and all I can say is that call saved our Charlie’s life. He got Robert on the phone right away, who faxed me a protocol for pancreatitis. Charlie’s was one of the worst cases. Robert informed me as to how serious this was and how much I needed to follow this protocol. I was drained from daily vet visits and administering meds/Iv’s. I wasn’t able to sleep or eat all week from worry. Needless to say I was a basket case because Charlie was to repeat labs the following week and I knew it was going be the worst news ever. So I took him in on Monday and went back on Tuesday without him to be read the results.

The vet called me in as the staff looked on holding their breath. I had called them numerous times a day and they really felt my pain but couldn’t help Charlie. When I walked in the room, the vet had a look of confusion on his face. I just knew in my heart that the end for Charlie had come. But it wasn’t the end for him!!! The vet said his pancreatic range was 54. I jumped up and down, screaming with joy! Even his staff rejoiced! I told them all that the folks at Barf World saved his life by sending me crucial info. Had I followed this protocol 2 weeks ago, Charlie wouldn’t have suffered the way he did and I wouldn’t be out thousands of dollars in vet bills. All I can say is these people at Barf world know more than any vet and I will only feed the raw diet to our little guy for the rest of his life.

Barf world, I cant thank you enough for the phone calls and concern. Ive never seen compassion like this before.”

- Lucy Saponjian (Van Nuys, CA)

The opinions and recommendations above are based on my 30+ years of experience feeding a raw diet to many different breeds of dogs suffering from a variety conditions, including pancreatitis.  However I recommend that you always consult your own veterinarian when making changes to your dog’s diet, and especially if you suspect pancreatitis in your dog.


Robert Mueller, BSc, Pharm. is a registered pharmacist, author of Living Enzymes: The World’s Best Kept Pet Food Secret”, and co-developer of BARF World’s BARF diets patties, nuggets and supplements – the first company to make the Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF) diet conveniently available to animals everywhere.  To receive more articles like these in your email inbox,click here to sign up for “The Intelligent Pet” weekly e-zine absolutely FREE!

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4 Common Diseases That Promote Dog Obesity

By Robert Mueller, B. Pharm.

We know that maintaining a healthy weight is one of the keys to us enjoying the best quality of life.  This fact is as true for us as it is for our pets.  However, when our pets are plagued by disease, it often makes it more difficult for us to keep our dogs and cats trim and healthy.

Here are a few common dog illnesses that, despite our best efforts, can cause weight issues in our pets.  (By the way – all of these illnesses can develop in cats too!):

Allergies in Dogs

Allergies themselves don’t cause weight gain – but the medications used to treat allergies may.  Some antihistamines may increase your pets’ appetite, causing them to be hungrier than usual.  If you “free feed” – meaning you leave food out for long periods of time so that your pet can eat at their leisure – you may notice yourself refilling their bowls more frequently than before.

As an aside: I personally DO NOT recommend free feeding your pet.  Many veterinarians and animal nutritionists attribute pet obesity to this common feeding practice.  Even expert dog trainers and canine behaviorists say that free feeding can cause your pet to believe that they are in control of their food, leading to behavioral issues – even food aggression and finicky eating habits.

Cancer in Dogs

The “C” word is something that no pet owner wants to hear from his or her veterinarian. We are finding more and more people are now turning to a BARF (biologically appropriate raw food) diet when their pet is diagnosed with cancer.

Dogs with cancer may experience weight loss. There are two reasons for this: anorexia due to loss of appetite (simply put, your dog does not feel well enough to eat), and cachexia. While the delicious taste of raw meat dog food usually does the trick to get an anorexic dog to eat, cachexia is another issue entirely.

Dogs suffering from cachexia may have a healthy appetite but their body is not able to absorb the nutrients from their food, causing them to lose weight and muscle mass.  This is a situation where feeding a diet rich in live, active enzymes can help with nutrient absorption.  If you’re feeding a cooked, kibble, or canned dog food, it is recommended to include an enzyme supplement to the food. Alternatively, you can opt for a raw dog food diet instead.  Since a raw diet does not undergo the heat process of cooking, all the natural, active enzymes that are naturally found in raw foods are still in good supply.  Enzymes help your dog get the most out of her food, allowing her digestive and immune systems to work at their optimal best so that the body can have the strength to fight off disease.

Cushings Disease in Dogs

Cushings disease is a result of the body’s overproduction of the hormone, cortisol. This condition is common in older dogs and, because of the symptoms of fur loss, weight gain and muscle weakness, it is often times mistaken for the natural process of aging. Eliminating grains and high levels of carbohydrates and opting instead for a high protein, low carb diet can help minimize weight gain in dogs with Cushings.

Diabetes in Dogs

Dogs diagnosed with diabetes can exhibit symptoms of weight gain or weight loss, depending on the type.  In either instance, it’s important to regulate the amount of sugar being consumed and achieve the proper insulin levels in your pet to properly treat the diabetic dog.  Again, dry and canned pet foods that contain high levels of carbohydrates (grains) can cause a sugar imbalance in a diabetic dog.  The reason is that the body converts carbs from the food into sugars, thus causing an imbalance in the body. Like Cushings disease in dogs, dogs with diabetes should stick to a high protein, low carbohydrate diet, such as a raw meat-based diet.

Robert Mueller, BSc, Pharm. is a registered pharmacist, author of Living Enzymes: The World’s Best Kept Pet Food Secret”, and co-developer of BARF World’s BARF diets patties, nuggets and supplements – the first company to make the Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF) diet conveniently available to animals everywhere.  To receive more articles like these in your email inbox,click here to sign up for “The Intelligent Pet” weekly e-zine absolutely FREE!

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Your Dog Is Fat (And You Don’t Even Know It)

By Robert Mueller, B. Pharm.

Last week we discussed the dangers of pet obesity, and ways that we as pet owners can reduce the risk of dog illness and disease by ensuring our pets maintain a healthy body weight.  Many of you responded by asking, “Well, how do I know if my dog is overweight?”  This is actually a very important question – one that EVERY pet owner should ask themselves, because even one pound of excess body weight on a dog can lead to health problems down the road. If a Chihuahua were to gain just one extra pound, it would equate to twenty (20) lbs. of excess body weight on an adult woman!

Dog Feeding Guidelines Are Worthless

As pet owners become increasingly concerned over the weight of their dogs, questions begin to arise regarding calorie levels and whether to feed special, weight-control dog food…and pet food manufacturers have taken notice.  Walk down the aisles of your local pet food store and you’ll see diets touting low, reduced calorie formulas, prescription diets formulated for weight loss, and diets for overweight management.

What I am about to say next may cause an uproar in the veterinarian and breeding communities but it needs to be said: dog feeding guidelines are, for the most part, worthless.  The plain and simple truth is that every dog is different and that there are many variables that need to be considered before deciding on what the proper amount of food to feed your dog is, for instance:

  • Differences in metabolic rate
  • Metabolism efficiency
  • Variations in activity level due to age, condition, or seasons of the year
  • Environmental temperature
  • Environmental humidity
  • The age, sex, breed and size of your dog

However, the most important thing to consider when attempting to achieve dog weight loss is to analyze the quality and source of the calories being consumed by your pet.  For one thing, calories from starches and sugars cause much more weight gain than calories from protein or fat.  Food processing also plays a huge role in weight issues in dogs.  Despite the identical caloric calculation, cooked or extruded foods (i.e. canned and kibble pet foods) differ in their levels of metabolizabled calories.  Those same ingredients, if left in their uncooked, unadulterated, natural state provide better nutrition and better utilized calories for your pet, maintaining optimum weight and health.

To get a better idea of what your dog’s weight should be, take a look at the canine body condition scoring chart below:

If you find that your pet is overweight (or underweight), give my office a call for a complimentary nutritional assessment for your pet: 1-866-272-BARF (2273).  You might want to consider a health consultation with a holistic veterinarian to determine whether there may be an underlying issue that is causing abnormal weight issues in your pet.

Be sure to read next week’s issue of “The Intelligent Pet” as I touch on common pet diseases that can attribute to weight issues in dogs and cats.

Robert Mueller, BSc, Pharm. is a registered pharmacist, author of Living Enzymes: The World’s Best Kept Pet Food Secret”, and co-developer of BARF World’s BARF diets patties, nuggets and supplements – the first company to make the Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF) diet conveniently available to animals everywhere.  To receive more articles like these in your email inbox,click here to sign up for “The Intelligent Pet” weekly e-zine absolutely FREE!

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Alarming Statistics on Pet Obesity A Serious Cause For Concern

By Robert Mueller, B. Pharm.

Obesity in dogs and cats has become an alarming problem in America and throughout the world.  A 2012 survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity revealed that 52.5% of dogs and 58.3% of cats seen by veterinarians across the country are considered overweight or obese.  This ever-increasing health epidemic can lead to serious health disorders, including diabetes and cancer.

The physical effect of carrying excess body weight contributes to a rapid deterioration of joints and often promotes hip, joint, and mobility problems, such as arthritis.  As additional weight puts stress on the already weak joints, your pet will begin to slow down, reducing their amount of daily exercise, which further perpetuates the vicious cycle of obesity.  Excess weight also puts a strain on the circulatory system, which in turn stresses out the heart, leading to pulmonary and cardiovascular disease down the road.

So what is causing all the pet obesity in this country and why do the numbers continue to rise?

The underlying cause of obesity in dogs and cats is a simple imbalance between energy intake (food) and energy expenditure (exercise), which results in an energy surplus (fat) or weight gain. This sounds like an easy problem to resolve, but there are many underlying factors that need to be considered.  Some of these factors include:

  • Hormonal abnormalities
  • Genetic predisposition to dog obesity
  • Activity level and lifestyle
  • External influences (such as food)
  • Diet composition and palatability

While proper breeding practices can help minimize the risk of some of these factors, there are a few things that we as pet owners can do to eliminate some of the risk factors that contribute to obesity in pets.


Many of today’s pre-packaged, processed, commercial pet foods are loaded with grains, fillers, preservatives, and other inferior quality ingredients.  These formulations contain an overabundance of carbohydrates and low-quality proteins, which are hard for our pets to digest.  Foods such as these do not offer our pets the necessary amount of nutrients needed for optimum health and development.  As a result they are constantly “hungry” and have to eat more of this “junk food” than necessary in order to feel “nutritionally satisfied.”

A much better choice is a raw food diet like the BARF Diet.  One of the advantages of raw diets for dogs and cats, is the high level of nutrition they receive compared to cooked, kibble, or canned pet foods.  A raw fed dog or cat will noticeably consume less raw food than pets fed a dry, canned or moist food diet yet they will utilize a higher percentage of nutrients even with less quantity intake.  This is the food that nature intended for your pet.


Regular exercise is the second part of keeping your pet in shape.  Once you begin feeding a raw diet, you will notice an appreciable difference in the energy level of your pet.  The BARF (biologically appropriate raw food) diet, being high in protein and low in carbohydrates, promotes a trim, toned body and gives your pet the energy required for increased exercise and activity.   “My dog acts like a puppy again,” is something we often hear from our ecstatic clients.  Like, Claudia Hetzer from San Diego, California:

“Our dog, Captain, a 85-pound lab retriever, was eight when we switched him to the BARF World diet.  Already after the first few weeks, he seemed invigorated, more energetic and his joint stiffness (arthritis) improved markedly.  Now he chases the ball around like a puppy, his coat looks wonderful, he barely sheds and is overall a happier and healthier dog.  We will never feed him anything else.”

A natural, raw diet and regular exercise will help prevent obesity and extend the life of your pet.  These two simple health recommendations – a wholesome and nutritious diet, and daily exercise, are the same suggestions that we as humans hear from medical and nutritional experts on a regular basis.

Take care of yourself and take care of your pet.  You will be amazed at how well you and your pet look and feel when you both eat properly and take a walk every day.

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