Traditional management of acute pancreatitis in dogs has included withholding of food, followed by feeding an ultralow-fat diet. While studies of humans and dogs indicate that providing enteral nutrition early in the disease course improves survival, the ideal diet has not been determined.This study assessed the pancreatic response in healthy dogs fed diets of different fat compositions with or without the addition of pancreatic enzymes and medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).Ten healthy dogs with no history of pancreatitis were each fed 1 of 4 different diets once, in random order, at 1-week intervals: diet A consisted of 16% crude fat, diet B consisted of 5% crude fat, diet C was composed of diet A with pancreatic enzymes, and diet D was diet B with pancreatic enzymes and MCTs.Dogs were fasted for at least 12 hours before feeding. Serum canine pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity (cPLI) and canine trypsin-like immunoreactivity (cTLI) were measured at baseline, at 1 to 2 hours, and again at 6 hours after feeding. Serum gastrin concentration was measured at baseline, at 5 to 10 minutes, and at 1 to 2 hours after feeding.The study found no significant difference in serum cPLI, cTLI, or gastrin concentrations among the diets fed, among the dogs, or over time.Diet D induced the least amount of pancreatic response compared with the other diets, but the difference was not significant. The results indicated that fat content has no significant effect,with or without supplemental pancreatic enzymes and MCTs, on the degree of pancreatic stimulation in healthy dogs. This may have implications for the treatment of pancreatitis in dogs.

COMMENTARY: Feeding low-fat diets to dogs recovering or recovered from pancreatitis has been a long-held tenet of therapy.This approach is based on the theory that reduced dietary fat reduces cholecystokinin release,with an associated decrease in pancreatic stimulation. It is unknown, however,what, if any, influence dietary fat content has on pancreatic function in normal dogs.The authors of this study found no effect of varying dietary fat intake on indirect measures of pancreatic function and thus could not draw any specific conclusions about pancreatitis. The rationale for feeding low-fat diets to patients with this disease remains as elusive as ever.—Patricia Thomblison, DVM,MS

Pancreatic response in healthy dogs fed diets of various fat compositions. James FE, Mansfield CS, Steiner JM, et al.AMJ VET RES 70:614-618, 2009.