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Benefits of a Low-Fat Food for Dogs with Pancreatitis and Other Chronic Conditions

Hill's Pet Nutrition



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For dogs, the digestion of dietary fat is more complex than the digestion of proteins or carbohydrates. This situation can be further complicated by a variety of chronic conditions including, but not limited to, pancreatitis, protein-losing enteropathy, and hyperlipidemia. Feeding a low fat food, such as Hill’s® Prescription Diet® i/d® Low Fat Canine, long term helps manage or minimize the risk for recurrence of these chronic diseases.


Pancreatitis is defined as either acute or chronic inflammation of the pancreas. Risk factors presumed to be associated with pancreatitis include, but are not limited to, breed predisposition, dietary indiscretion, fasting hyperlipidemia, endocrine diseases such as diabetes mellitus, obesity, and high-fat diets.1 Miniature Schnauzers are one of the most commonly reported breeds at risk for the development of pancreatitis.1

Acute pancreatitis, the most common form of the disease seen by the veterinarian, can be life threatening and often requires a prolonged hospital stay.1 Chronic pancreatitis poses difficulties in diagnosis because dogs can suffer from mild, recurrent episodes.1 The pet will occasionally experience a loss of appetite, become lethargic, vomit, or appear uncomfortable, but may have improved by the time it sees a veterinarian. Chronic pancreatitis implies persistent disease with irreversible morphologic changes of the pancreas.1 

The risk of a dog either having recurrent acute pancreatitis or developing chronic pancreatitis after only experiencing one episode is unknown.1 However, in these patients, along with dogs with chronic pancreatitis and breeds that may be predisposed to pancreatitis or hyperlipidemia, such as the Miniature Schnauzer, a beneficial lifestyle change may be adopting a low-fat diet. 

Protein-Losing Enteropathy 

Protein-losing enteropathy (PLE) is a term that encompasses infiltrative intestinal disorders that result in GI loss of protein and hypoalbuminemia.2 Patients with primary chronic intestinal disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and lymphoma, may develop PLE. 2 Lymphangiectasia, a disease commonly associated with PLE in dogs, is characterized by lymphatic hypertension secondary to abnormalities of the intestinal lymphatic system. Breeds at risk for primary lymphangiectasia include Norwegian Lundehunds, Chinese Shar-peis, Rottweilers, Yorkshire terriers, and Maltese.2

For long term treatment of dogs with PLE, select a food that is appropriate for the underlying cause. A low-fat food is indicated for patients with lymphangiectasia.


Hyperlipidemia is characterized by increased levels of blood lipids in a patient fasted for at least 12 hours. The lipids may be triglycerides, cholesterol or both.3 Primary hyperlipidemia, the most common form, is a defect in lipid metabolism leading to hypertriglyceridemia and may be hereditary in Miniature Schnauzers.4 Hyperlipidemia may be secondary to an underlying disorder, such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, or hyperadrenocorticism, or as a result of feeding a high-fat diet.3 Hypertriglyceridemia patients are at risk for developing significant clinical illness, including acute pancreatitis.1  

Nutrition is the most important element for managing primary hyperlipidemia.3 Prescription Diet® i/d® Low Fat Canine is clinically proven to decrease fasting serum triglycerides in hyperlipidemic dogs.5

“i/d Low Fat is beneficial for dogs that have trouble digesting fat. It’s also a good option for dogs with GI issues that are struggling with weight control, as the caloric density is lower in this food compared to others within the i/d Canine GI portfolio,” said Ellen Lowery, DVM, PhD, MBA, Hill’s director of U.S. Professional & Veterinary Affairs.

Hill’s® Prescription Diet® i/d® Low Fat Canine is not only low in fat, but is also highly digestible. High digestibility makes it easy for the patient to assimilate and absorb nutrients without leaving high amounts of poorly digested residue in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Its formulation also contains prebiotic fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and ginger. Prebiotic fiber helps restore balance of the intestinal microflora by supporting growth of beneficial bacteria, omega-3 fatty acids helps break the cycle of inflammation, and ginger has been shown to have beneficial GI motility effects as well as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.6,7 


For global readers, a calculator to convert laboratory values, dosages, and other measurements to SI units can be found here.

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