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Zaffi’s journey with pancreatitis and IBD

Zaffi’s journey with pancreatitis and IBD

Cecilie Hemsen Berg

Today, Zaffi is a happy chap – and he has never been more stably healthy.

Bernhard Weiss

Zaffi is one of many dogs in our country living in shelters. In 2017 he could finally move to his forever home. “We came across a scrawny little, nervous creature coming back to his pen from an outing. His minder introduced him as ‘Baby Butch’ and said that he was her favorite among all the dogs in the shelter. We knew how difficult it would be to only pick out one dog of all the hopeful souls, but in many ways Zaffi made the choice for us”, says Bernhard.

Despite being very timid, his look sought contact, and he jumped up gently trying to look more closely into Bernhard’s eyes. When Bernhard bent down,  Zaffi became relaxed and charmed Bernhard completely. When he learned that Zaffi wasn’t coping with the hurley burley of life in the shelter, he knew Zaffi had to become part of his family.

Testemonials Nala Health Zaffi

IBD and pancreatitis pose challenges

Zaffi was soon diagnosed with IBD and pancreatitis. This lead Bernhard on a journey to find the best treatment for his newest family member. The vet told him Zaffi needed to eat a low-fat diet without any of the familiar proteins. Bernhard decided on Nala Health senior dog food, and along with the change in diet, Zaffi also began a change in his treatment regime. In addition, to provide a novel, clean protein, Nala Health dog food contains omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to reduce inflammation.

Today, Zaffi is a happy chap – and he has never been more stably healthy. “Choosing dog food to my dogs has to fulfil 3 criteria; the health of my dogs, the impact on the environment, and animal welfare. Cost, of course, is also a consideration”, says Bernhard.

Zaffi’s most obvious feature is his nervous timidity. But he quickly comes out of himself and demands attention. He will sit and have a long chat, and he loves playing with his sister Bella who is also adopted from DARG. He accepts Bella as the boss, but is cheeky with her too, starting wrestling matches with her as soon as some excitement needs an energetic release. His favourite activity is to head off into the forest with Bella and Bernhard.

Testemonials Nala Health Zaffi

What is IBD in dogs

Inflammatory bowel disease involves inflammation of the lining in the GI (gastrointestinal) tract. The majority of your dog’s immune system resides in the GI tract, so imbalances affect overall health and well-being. Symptoms can vary in severity and be periodic. It can include vomiting, diarrhoea, reduced appetite, weight loss, flatulence, a rumbly tummy and stomach pain. Red, itchy ears and allergic skin reactions can also be present. 

IBD is caused by an abnormal immune response towards bacteria within the bowel or food causing inflammation within the GI tract. If food is an issue, proteins seem to be the main trigger, more so than carbohydrates. Gluten is avoided with any diet trial (elimination diet). Genetics can also play a role.

The vet will do some blood work and faecal testing to assess the dog’s overall health and rule out other medical conditions. Ultrasound and x-ray may also be necessary. For a definitive diagnosis, the vet might also need to do a biopsy.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for IBD, but the condition can be managed with antibiotics and steroids, and changes in diet. Since each case of IBD is different, the condition can take some trial and error to find the right treatment plan. Dogs with IBD should be fed a highly digestible, gluten-free diet with probiotics, omega 3 and soluble fibre. In addition to a healthy diet, it is important that your dog has access to clean, preferably filtered, water. Our water sources are often chlorinated, which is not good for gut health.

Testemonials Nala Health Zaffi

Dog with pancreatitis

The pancreas is a vital organ on the right side of the abdomen. It produces digestive enzymes and hormones (such as insulin), which help to digest sugars, fat and starches, and regulate blood sugar. The inflammation results from the early activation of an enzyme within the pancreas, which causes the pancreas to digest itself. Pancreatitis may be acute or chronic. 

The most common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, lethargy, fever, abdominal pain, abdominal enlargement, diarrhoea and poor appetite. None of these symptoms are specific to pancreatitis, and the vet will have to do a complete blood cell count, faecal examination, urinalysis and abdominal X-rays to rule out other diseases that can cause similar symptoms.

Veterinarians will often prescribe anti-nausea drugs to treat vomiting in an attempt to get the dog to eat as soon as possible because research has found that dogs with pancreatitis that quickly start eating again have a better prognosis.

Most veterinarians recommend highly digestible, low-fat dog food. Dietary fat is thought to be a major trigger for the pancreas to secrete digestive enzymes, which may worsen inflammation.

A high-quality, low-fat diet can promote pancreatic healing while still providing all the nutrients dogs need to heal. If your dog has a history of repeated incidents of pancreatitis, your veterinarian may recommend that you continue to feed low-fat dog food to prevent flare-ups.