Best Low Fat Dog Food For Pancreatitis

LAST UPDATED 23 NOVEMBER 2023

This article is written by Pet Circle's qualified veterinarian, Dr Brittany Ward BVSc

When your dog is diagnosed with Pancreatitis, it may initially seem daunting and create a great deal of worry about your pet's health. This painful condition can set in rapidly and reoccur at any stage, meaning that lifelong management is required. While the exact cause is unknown, there is suspected to be a link to foods with a high fat content. In fact, Pancreatitis is colloquially known as Boxing Day Disease because many dogs present with this after scoring some of the fatty Christmas ham.

To prevent future flare ups, most vets will recommend feeding your dog a prescription low fat dog food that is designed specifically for Pancreatitis, however, we know that these diets may not be suitable in all circumstances and are often costly long term. This article lists our top recommended Low Fat Dog Foods for a range of options to suit all needs and diet preferences.

If your dog has been prescribed a therapeutic low fat diet and you are looking to transition onto an alternative retail diet, it is essential to confirm with your regular vet. Some dogs may not be able to transition, depending on their ability to tolerate the higher fat content in the commercial food.

Why is choosing the right Low Fat Dog Food for Pancreatitis important?

Once Pancreatitis has been diagnosed, we know that it is very likely for our dogs to experience it again. Managing them through diet is the most effective method and dogs left on a high fat diet often see frequent recurrence of symptoms. Pancreatitis is extremely painful and can become life-threatening, so managing it at home is essential to protect your pet from these risks.

Four reasons why it's important to choose the right Low Fat Diet for Pancreatitis are:
  1. Health Conditions: Pancreatitis alone requires specific dietary requirements, which is typically a low fat diet. Because it presents as digestive upset, a sensitive stomach diet may also be recommended to ensure the condition is managed, and as such your Vet may recommend a prescription diet that is best suited to your dog's needs. When choosing a diet, it is essential to ensure you have considered any other health conditions your pet may have been diagnosed with as well. Remember to chat to your vet about your dog's health conditions and associated dietary requirements as a first point of call for dietary recommendations.
  2. Complete and Balanced: After considering health conditions, the most important factor in deciding on the right diet is choosing an option that is nutritionally balanced and complete. Ensuring that it meets AAFCO or FEDIAF pet food control guidelines is crucial to ensure that your dog receives all the nutrients they require in the correct ratios.
  3. Quality: An essential factor to consider should be the quality of the ingredients and the digestibility of the nutrients provided by the diet. Premium diets are designed to be highly digestible (which means smaller, firmer stools) and do not change ingredients batch to batch like supermarket type brands, which means less tummy upsets. They also tend to contain higher levels of added beneficial nutrients, such as omega fatty acids for joint and coat health, and some are backed by testing to ensure they deliver the results they promise. and knowing the ingredients in your dog's food is a crucial part of knowing what is the best food for them.
  4. Palatability: Pancreatitis management is lifelong, meaning the diet your dog is on will likely need to be something they can eat long term without growing tired of it. Many of the breeds prone to Pancreatitis, including Schnauzers and Poodles, are also known to be fussy eaters, so finding a diet that will support their long term health and continue to be enjoyed long term is essential.

Results:

  1. Best Prescription Diet: Royal Canin Veterinary Gastrointestinal Low Fat
  2. Best Low Fat Wet Food: Hills Prescription Diet I/d Digestive Care Low Fat Stew
  3. Best Commercial Diet: Hills Science Diet Adult Light
  4. Best Budget Low Fat Diet: Eukanuba Fit Body Weight Management
  5. Best Budget Small Breed Diet: Advance Healthy Weight Small Adult
  6. Best Grain Free Diet: SavourLife Grain Free Adult Lean
  7. Best Novel Protein Diet: Prime100 SPD-Air Kangaroo and Pumpkin
  8. How We Review Our Products

    Our Pet Circle Vet Squad comprises 30 vets with over 120 years of collective, independent veterinary expertise. Our Vet team use their health and husbandry knowledge, along with their own personal and clinical experiences to evaluate each product and provide detailed, informative reviews, free of any commercial bias. We then collate this information into our 'best of' recommendations.

    Top Low Fat Diets in Australia For Dogs With Pancreatitis

    Best Prescription Low Fat Diet: Royal Canin Veterinary Gastrointestinal Low Fat

    Pros

    • Minimum Fat Percentage: 7%
    • Prescription Diet for low fat conditions
    • Premium quality, highly digestible ingredients
    • Contains prebiotics, beet pulp and fish oil to support digestive health
    • Protein source poultry and hydrolysed animal proteins

    Cons

    • Expensive
    • Diets manufactured overseas: France and South Korea
    • First ingredient rice

    This is a top of the range prescription diet designed specifically to meet the nutritional requirements of conditions requiring a low fat diet, including pancreatitis. It contains prebiotics for healthy gut bacteria, fish oil for healthy skin and coat, fibres for healthy digestion and antioxidants for immune support and overall health. It is designed to be easily digested and contains a very low fat percentage at 7%.

    This prescription low fat diet is also available in a wet food with a Loaf consistency, available as Royal Canin Veterinary Gastrointestinal Low Fat Cans.

    What our customers say: "My senior dog who has had one acute episode of pancreatitis and is also a very fussy and picky greyhound just adores this kibble and gobbles it up. Highly recommended, a very high quality food that even the most discerning of dogs will love!" - Kay

    What our vets say: "Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Low Fat is my go-to diet recommendation for dogs that require a highly digestible, low fat formulation - especially my pancreatitis patients! Its great to know that its gentle on the stomach and low in fat, however it still meets nutritional requirements and can be fed long term. Most dogs seem to love the taste too!" - Dr. Samantha

    Shop Royal Canin Veterinary Gastrointestinal Low Fat

    Best Low Fat Wet Food: Hills Prescription Diet I/d Low Fat Digestive Care Chicken and Vegetable Stew

    Pros

    • Fat Content: 1-2.2%
    • Stew consistency with visible meat and vegetables
    • Highly palatable and easily digestible diet
    • Premium quality ingredients
    • S+OX Shield - suitable for pets with urinary problems
    • Rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and prebiotics
    • Uses pork liver and chicken protein

    Cons

    • Expensive
    • Only available in 156g cans

    Hills Prescription Diet offers another therapeutic diet designed for sensitive stomachs and with a low fat content to suit dogs diagnosed with pancreatitis or other health conditions requiring a low fat diet. Their top of the range health specific diets use premium quality, easily digestible ingredients for reduced tummy upsets. It is rich with omega fatty acids for healthy skin, coat, brain and heart, and formulated with the ActivBiome+ prebiotic complex for healthy digestion. This diet also bears the S+OX shield meaning it is suitable for dogs that have experienced Urinary Stones or Crystals (Struvite/Calcium Oxalate) in the past.

    This canned wet food option comes as a stew with visible chunks of chicken meat, cooked rice and vegetables all in a tasty gravy that looks and smells good enough to eat yourself. This diet can be combined with the Hills Prescription Diet I/d Low Fat Digestive Care Dry Food to offer variety and reduce amount of wet food required daily. Alternatively, there is also a mince style, 360g Hills I/d Low Fat Can.

    What our customers say: "My dog had a very bad bout of diarrhoea for two days and required hospitalisation. My vet recommend her feeding this low fat digestive care wet food from Hills and it helped recovery. It was gentle of my pup's tummy and they liked the taste. Highly recommended. " - Nick

    Shop Hills Prescription Diet I/d Low Fat Digestive Care Stew

    Best Commercial Diet: Hills Science Diet Adult Light Dry Food

    Pros

    • Minimum Fat Content: 5.5%
    • Chicken and barley based diet
    • High quality, highly digestible protein
    • L-Carnitine to support lean muscle mass
    • Antioxidant blend for healthy immune system
    • Omega 6 fatty acids and Vitamin E for skin and coat

    Cons

    • Expensive cost per feed
    • Recommended for adult dogs aged 1-6 years

    Hills Science Diet Adult Light is a reduced calorie diet, designed for those pets that are prone to weight gain, less active or neutered. It is low in fat and has a higher quality protein content to prevent excessive weight gain, with a high fibre content to increase satiety and aiding healthy passage of food through the digestive tract. It has a clinically proven antioxidant blend and Vitamin C & E to boost immune function, with omega fatty acids for skin and coat.

    Hills Adult Light is also now available in a Wet Food Can and a Large Breed Dry Food formulation.

    What our customers say: "Our Cross Golden Retriever had digestive problems and after our Vet prescribed Science Diet light, we have had no further issues with not eating and he is an extremely happy and healthy dog." - Bev

    What our vets say: "Hill's Science Diet Canine Adult Light Dry food is a suitable option for dog breeds prone to pancreatitis due to its reduced calorie content and high-quality, easy-to-digest ingredients. The absence of artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives makes it a favourable choice for dogs with sensitive digestive systems. Some dogs with a history of pancreatitis may be able to transition from a prescription low-fat veterinary diet to Hill's Science Diet Adult Light, however, it's essential to consult your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog's diet." - Dr. Kes

    Shop Hills Science Diet Adult Light Dry Food

    Best Budget Low Fat Diet: Eukanuba Fit Body Weight Management Dry Food

    Pros

    • Minimum Fat Content: 7%
    • Chicken based diet
    • Fish oil source of omega fatty acids for skin and coat
    • L-Carnitine to promote lean muscle mass
    • Glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support
    • Beet pulp and prebiotic fibres for healthy digestion
    • 3D Denta-Defence kibble shape

    Cons

    • No small breed option available
    • Bags non-resealable

    Eukanuba is a premium quality, diet range aimed at supporting healthy, active dogs. Their weight management diet 'Fit Body' is a low fat option with L-Carnitine to support healthy muscle mass development. They pack their food full of beneficial ingredients, including omega fatty acids for skin and coat and brain development, Beet Pulp fibre for healthy digestion, and glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health. They also include sodium tripolyphosphate - a calcium binder that prevents tartar formation - and their 3D Denta-Defence kibble design which is Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) approved for tartar prevention in their adult maintenance diets.

    The Fit Body range is available for both Large Breed and Medium Breed dogs and both diets are made in Australia.

    What our customers say: "We bought the Eukanuba weight loss product for our Cocker Spaniel who needed to drop some kg's and within three months she has done that, and is a very happy and healthy dog who runs more and is very alert." - Slender

    What our vets say: "Eukanuba fit body weight control can be a great Australian made option if you are looking for a low fat dry food and is available in two sizes to suit medium and large breed dogs. As both formulas have low fat contents (~9%) they may be suitable for pets needing weight management or those who have recovered from pancreatitis." - Dr. Josepha

    Shop Eukanuba Fit Body Weight Management

    Best Budget Small Breed Diet: Advance Healthy Weight Small Adult

    Pros

    • Fat Content: 9-13%
    • Australian made
    • Low cost per feed
    • Zinc and Linoleic acid for healthy skin and coat
    • Green lipped mussel for joints support
    • Sodium Tripolyphosphate for preventing tartar development
    • Highly digestible ingredients and prebiotic fibre for healthy digestion

    Cons

    • Higher fat content than other diets in this list
    • Only available in 2.5kg or 5kg bags

    Advance is an Australian made, premium quality commercial diet with a large range of products to suit a large range of pets. Their Healthy Weight diets are designed with fewer calories to support inactive or obese prone pups. The diet is also packed full of nutraceuticals, including Omega fatty acids, Zinc and Linoleic acid for healthy skin, sodium tripolyphosphate for tartar prevention, Green Lipped Mussel to support joint health and prebiotic fibres to promote healthy gut bacteria. The levels of minerals are tightly controlled to reduce the risk of urinary tract health problems.

    Advance Healthy Weight is also available for Large Breed and Medium Breed dogs.

    What our customers say: "As usual, speedy service from Pet circle and a great price too. Was worried that the change in diet may cause upset tums, but need not have been concerned. The girls both love it and, hopefully, they'll shed a bit of their rotundness in time" - Penny

    Shop Advance Healthy Weight Small Adult

    Best Grain Free Diet: SavourLife Grain Free Adult Lean Dry Food

    Pros

    • Minimum Fat Content: 9%
    • Australian made and owned
    • Gluten and Grain free, limited ingredient, natural diet
    • Suitable for senior and adult dogs of all breed sizes
    • Turkey based diet
    • Glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support
    • Natural prebiotics and Yucca extract for healthy digestion
    • Fish oil included for skin health and coat shine

    Cons

    • Packaging not resealable
    • Only available in 2.5kg or 10kg bags

    SavourLife Grain Free Adult Lean has a lot of good qualities packed into it. It has a limited ingredient list for pets with sensitivities, and is gluten and grain free. Natural ingredients are used, with Turkey meat, a low fat alternative to chicken, and superfoods like sweet potato, blueberries, carrot, kelp and yucca. The highly digestible ingredients and natural prebiotics support and healthy digestive system while yucca can help to reduce faecal odour. Additional glucosamine and chondroitin is added to support joint health and fish oil nourishes the skin and coat.

    An Australian made product from an Australian owned company, SavourLife donates 50% of their profits towards helping rescue and shelter dogs. This diet is a great option for supporting your dog's health and giving back to the community.

    What our customers say: "My golden retriever is overweight and suffers from allergies and gases, everything. Since he is on this food he looks very happy, he loves the food! And his stomach is fine, no more gases, great quality food!" - Ana

    Shop SavourLife Grain Free Adult Lean

    Best Novel Protein Diet: Prime100 SPD-Air Kangaroo and Pumpkin

    Pros

    • Minimum Fat Content: 7%
    • Kangaroo based single, novel protein diet
    • Air dried, raw alternative
    • Human grade, whole ingredients used
    • Grain and gluten free
    • Pre and probiotics for digestive health
    • Australian made and owned

    Cons

    • Expensive
    • Not available in bulk - only 600g and 2.2kg bags

    This diet is Australian made and sourced, using human grade ingredients, to produce a high quality, nutritionally balanced and complete diet. All of the Prime100 recipes are limited ingredient, single protein, grain free, hypoallergenic options with a wide range of novel protein varieties available. Kangaroo specifically is a low-fat, novel protein option, making this diet great for senior dogs or those prone to weight gain. The Kangaroo and Pumpkin formula is also suitable for dogs with a sensitive stomach. It is a relatively high fibre diet (5%) with prebiotics and probiotics that provide functional gastrointestinal support and promote a healthy gut microbiome.

    This diet is air dried, using fresh whole ingredients, to lock in the flavour and essential nutrients, creating a great raw alternative diet option. It is also available in an air dried wet food formulation and Prime100 have recently released a slow-cooked diet range, including a Kangaroo and Pumpkin option.

    Due to the cost of this air-dried food, many owners will use it as a tasty treat or meal topper. Thanks to the low fat content, this would also make a great treat for dogs with pancreatitis.

    What our customers say: "My fussy pup loves this ~ and she is very very picky with her dry food. Gave it to her as a meal topper and treats ." - Fransisca

    What our vets say: "Prime100 Kangaroo and Pumpkin is a great option for pets needing a limited ingredient and novel protein diet. Using a single source meat protein, Australian Kangaroo, this is also a low-fat food suitable for weight control or could be used to support gastrointestinal health. It is a complete and balanced diet to provide for your dog's everyday nutritional needs." - Dr. Michelle

    Shop Prime100 SPD-Air Kangaroo and Pumpkin

    What to look for in Low Fat Dog Food for Pancreatitis:

    When looking for a new diet for your pup following their diagnosis with Pancreatitis, you will want to know that the diet you are feeding is low in fat, will prevent future flare ups, can be fed exclusively and long-term, and is your dog going to enjoy eating it. Often the diet you choose will be their diet for the rest of their life, so you want to also choose something that is financially viable.

    Is It Vet Recommended?

    The diet you will be using is being used to manage a health condition and prevent any acute pancreatitis episodes. To perform this job, many vets will recommend a Prescription Diet. If you are choosing a diet outside of this recommendation, then make sure you confirm with your examining Veterinarian first. Depenging on your dog's ability to tolerate fat, some commericial diets with higher fat contents may not be suitable. It is also important that your vet approves the new food is suitable for your dog to continue managing their pancreatitis.

    Is It Really Low Fat?

    While many weight management diet may boast being lower fat content, weight loss and low fat do not equate to the same thing. Many weight management diets do have a reduced fat content, but will still meet the standard fat contents for an adult maintenance diet. For a dog diagnosed with Pancreatitis, these fat contents, often around 15-18%, are too high and could potentially lead to a flare up.

    Ideally a dog diagnosed with Pancreatitis will require a diet containing less than 10% Fat. Many diets will list their minimum fat content on the product, so be sure to keep this in mind as the maximum fat content will often be around 3-4% more than this.

    Can It Be Fed Exclusively?

    In order to manage Pancreatitis, your dog will be on a low fat diet long term, and that diet will need to be fed exclusively, perhaps aside from low fat treats. Any other maintenance diet or table scrap additions could potentially trigger a flare up of the condition, and see your dog back in hospital. Not only does the diet need to be low in fat, it will also need to be nutritionally balanced and complete and suitable for long term use, even as your dog ages into their senior years. So be sure to check the diet you are offering is high quality, nutritionally balanced and complete, easily digestible and suitable for multiple life stages.

    Is The Cost Maintainable?

    This is a diet your dog will need to stay on consistently, so remember to check the cost of the product and if it will suit your budget long term. The best way to work out how much your dog's food is going to cost long term, is by calculating the cost per feed and the cost per year. This can be determined by working out how much food your dog needs each day and dividing the cost of the back per kg, by the number of grams (as 0.) your dog eats each day. You can then work out how long a bag will last and how much it will cost for a year.

    Further Reading

    Understanding Prescription Diets for Pets

    Causes of Vomiting in Dogs

    What is the Best Dog Food for Sensitive Stomachs?

    How to Help Your Dog Lose Weight

    Common Christmas Foods that are Toxic to Pets