Diary of a Dog Mum - Mum knows best!
Some of you may have read our previous blog post “What is Dog Pancreatitis?” about Enzo’s recent health issues in the New Year and given there was a lot going on, I thought it only right to thank you for reading our previous post and provide you with an update on how we’re doing with trialling a diet and new way of feeding that works for a dog with pancreatitis 🙏🏼
So, I cracked on with my plan and put Enzo back on a raw food diet, including supplements, steroids and restarting his walks again. I am really happy to report it’s working 🥳
I began by feeding Enzo 250g of Honey’s Out of Season Wild Pheasant. Pheasant is very low in fat, which makes it a good choice for dogs with pancreatitis. To make sure he’s getting everything he needs in his diet, we add regular supplements of:
After talking with Enzo’s vet we decided on giving half a steroid twice a day and reintroducing short daily walks of between 20-30 minutes. Within 24 hours, Enzo’s stools began to improve. 🥳
Enzo’s number twos were no longer a pale mushy pile but instead perfectly formed, brown nuggets of pooey joy (only dog mums’ whose dogs have tummy trouble will actually appreciate this sentence) 😂 I know it’s not the nicest of subjects but it’s definitely one of the symptoms that needs addressing, and provides us with so much information.
So, the plan seems to be working and the hard part is over… or so you’d think, right?! Nope, you’d be wrong thinking things are now easier!
I don’t know about you, but I’m not the biggest fan of medication and I most definitely don’t want to keep Enzo on them indefinitely. If I can help it, and there’s not really any other choice, then I only really want to use them if/when he has a flare up. I would much rather try to treat his conditions naturally.
So, we’d started executing our plan with great results but I’d not yet had a call from the vets with the results of our TLI (Trypsin-Like Immunoreactivity) test to check if EPI (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency) had kicked in!
It’s a Saturday and my impatience had got the better of me, so I called the vets to find out if they had Enzo’s test results. They informed me that they did, but there’s a bit of a sticking point; Enzo’s primary vet was enjoying a well-deserved day off! 😳 Sensing my frustration. our ever-tolerant friend and vet nurse Alysia assured me that the visiting vet was ‘good’ and worth talking to anyway.
Like any anxious parent would, I freaked out a little. 🤪 I didn’t want to talk to just any “good vet”, I wanted Enzo’s vet. I declined, hung up, got mad, calmed down, became impatient and calmed down again. Believe me, when it comes to my boy, my emotions can sometimes get the better of me. 🥴 It was a rollercoaster of thoughts and emotions for all of 5 minutes, then I called back and agreed to talk to the vet, because at the end of the day I just wanted answers. 😐
To some, it may sound silly but seeing a new vet is a really big deal for us (me). I’ve heard some horror stories about really horrific vet experiences from others as well as personally having a shitty experience with the specialist that did Enzo’s surgery in 2021. I thank my lucky stars that our vet isn’t one of my many problems! I don’t mind admitting that I’m perhaps a little neurotic and maybe even somewhat obsessive when it comes to Enzo. 😉 I don’t let just anyone near him. Nor does Enzo for that matter. He doesn’t deal well with unfamiliar vets and he does a great job all by himself of scaring them away! 😏
When we arrive at the vets practice we’re met by a delightful young woman, and Alysia (I really hope she’s reading this). 😂 The vet introduced herself as Sophie, she’s really relaxed, not fazed by Enzo and really easy to speak to. Even Enzo let Sophie talk to him and examine him without any protest or growls. 🥰 She got the results of Enzo’s TLI blood test to check if EPI has kicked in and sod’s law, the results were borderline. 🤦🏽♀️ This means it wasn't a yes or a no - he was literally on the line 🙄 So for now, we’ve agreed to have him retested in 3-4 months’ time as the results could be effected by the fact he was tested whilst he was having an acute pancreatitis episode.
To my delight, when I discussed with Sophie what our plan was and my theory behind how to get Enzo back to where he was, she wasn’t put off like some vets can be when talking about raw food diets. Instead, Sophie was open, fully on board and listening.
I also mentioned to Sophie that Enzo has gained weight due to the steroids, despite being unwell and not eating a huge amount. I told her that ultimately I wanted to get Enzo off them, assuming his body and gut permit to do so. Sophie suggested measuring his steroid dosage more accurately and gradually reducing them.
Enzo was originally on 25mg of Prednicare which I was breaking in half, by hand, so there was no guarantee he was getting exactly 12.5mg of the tablet daily. So instead, Sophie prescribed 5mg tablets of Prednicare and asked me to try to give him 2 tablets once a day. So 10mg daily and still following my plan to feed him raw food with supplements twice a day and see how he goes. I agreed and arranged to come back and see her the next time she would be back in our area.
We did exactly that for 3 weeks - I was giving Enzo the 2 tablets once a day. I found that on the lower dosage of steroids that pheasant bones weren’t enough to bulk Enzo’s stools up. This is because pheasant bones are too soft, so I decided to add chicken wings (which I also buy from Honey’s Real Dog Food) to Enzo’s food too. Since adding them in, we went from strength to strength.
Enzo is now back up to managing a 60-90-minute daily walk again, and our new food routine is just great!
Breakfast: Enzo has 250g of Honey’s Wild Pheasant with 10mg of Prednicare and the supplements mentioned above followed by 1 chicken wing for breakfast.
After Walks: Enzo goes for his walk around lunchtime and when he comes home, he has a chicken wing.
Dinner: Around 7.30pm, Enzo gets his dinner which is another 250g of Honey’s Wild Pheasant with supplements followed by another chicken wing.
During this time there was a little trial and error. I got a little bit brave and tried feeding Enzo Honey’s Out of Season Free Range Chicken, which although is only 6.7% in total fat per 500g, the fat content was still a bit too high for Enzo and sadly that set us back and his poops turned mucusey and oily again 😬 So we quickly reverted back to the Wild Pheasant again which is 2.8% total fat per 500g.
Back to the vets
True to her word, Sophie was back at our local vet practice again just 3 weeks later and off we went to see her. I gave her the good news about how much progress we were making; Enzo had only lost half a kilo at that point, but all in all, everything was looking good.
I told Sophie about the wobble we had trying him with the chicken and proposed that I would try to raise the amount of fat Enzo could tolerate slowly. I planned on doing this by finding a protein that has between 3%-6% of total fat, gradually raising his tolerance and the amount of fat in his food, to which she agreed and thought was a sensible approach.
Sophie suggested reducing Enzo’s steroid dosage too and dropping down to just 1 tablet of 5mg of Prednicare a day but keeping the the daily feeding and exercise routine the same whilst increasing the fat percentage and I’d see her again in 3-4 weeks.
We’ve now introduced Honey’s Out of Season Wild Rabbit into Enzo’s protein rotation which is 4.1% in total fat per 500g and the great thing about this recipe is that it also contains lamb breast (including finely minced bone and heart (27%). In addition to being primarily minced whole wild rabbit (including finely minced bone (40%) - which is great for Enzo because when he was younger, it was impossible to feed him mixed proteins which only made it harder to source foods for him – so this is a winner. 🤩
Then this week, I also managed to successfully introduce Honey’s Out of Season Free Range Chicken back into Enzo’s protein rotations too, both whilst slowly increasing the amount of fat he can tolerate and whilst reducing the dosage of steroids from 10mg to 5mgs. Honestly, you have no idea how smug I feel right now. Sometimes it really is essential that you listen to your gut, you know your pets better than anyone... and Mum knows best!
Why the insistence to rotate Enzo’s proteins, I hear you ask? Rotating proteins is especially important since no single protein source provides all the amino acids a dog requires. By consistently rotating different protein sources, you can help make sure your dog is getting a complete essential amino acid profile.
Protein rotation adds variety to your dog's (and cat's) food and keeps them from getting bored with the same old food. Switching up the food will keep your pet interested in their food and ultimately make them less picky. It is recommended to rotate between 3-5 proteins if possible.
Obviously, we still have some way to go to see if we can get Enzo completely off of steroids and get his weight back to where I would like it to be, but I’ll take the wins as and when they come for now.
If you have a dog with pancreatitis symptoms be sure to contact your vet.
We’re due to see Sophie again soon to decide what we do next and how much longer Enzo might still need to be on steroids. If any of you live in or around Ashford, Middlesex I’d recommend Sophie without hesitation because it’s not every day you find a vet that is on board with your personal choices of food or training for your dog.
Until next time… 💖🐾💚🐾🧡