Angel Lived An Active Life For 8 1/2 Years After Her Pancreatitis Diagnosis! Our vet at the time told us to expect her to live as little as 6 months since she had a severe chronic case.
- Angel's first round of Acute Pancreatitis (10/2007) cost us $2200 and required 2 overnight hospital stays.
- With more knowledge her second attack only cost us about $550 and required one night in the hospital.
- After switching vets we learned new techniques that brought the cost down to $55 per month.
However, creating GastroElm Plus allowed us to manage her symptoms for only about $2 per month.
Watch the video below and you will see she that she absolutely thrived on it!
The Traditional Protocol For Dealing With Pancreatitis Is Expensive!
When you look at the traditional protocol for treating pancreatitis in dogs, they always talk about fasting as being a top priority. Conventional medicine says that withholding food and water for an extended period is crucial to allow the pancreas to rest.
The following protocol for treatment is taken from Web MD:
Treatment: Dogs with acute pancreatitis require hospitalization to treat shock and dehydration. The most important step in treating pancreatitis is to rest the gland completely. This is accomplished by giving the dog nothing by mouth for several days and maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance with intravenous saline solutions. Antibiotics are used to prevent secondary bacterial infections. Pain is controlled with narcotics. Cardiac arrhythmias, if present, are treated with anti-arrhythmic drugs. Dogs who do not respond to medical treatment may require surgery to drain an infected pancreas.
The problem for many pet owners is that this course of treatment can cost $5000 or more depending on how long the pet has to remain hospitalized. As long as the pet is not taking anything orally, it will most likely need to remain on IVs which means hospitalization. Additionally, most vets will not even give the animal sucralfate or other stomach coating agents such as Gastrofate or GastroElm Plus (the only one that’s Non-Prescription) while fasting the animal. In our case, this resulted in extensive, ongoing blood loss in our toy poodle Angel. This blood loss led to the need for a blood transfusion in order to stabilize her after 24 hours of acute pancreatitis. I have heard hundreds of similar stories over the past 10 years.
Money Saving Tip #1 – Coat The Digestive Tract ASAP
During Angel’s first attack, I learned about Carafate Suspension (liquid version of sucralfate). It was used to coat her stomach, but not until after the mandatory fasting period was over (which I thought was crazy). When Angel had her second attack a year later, I immediately got out the bottle of Carafate and gave her a dose before even going to the vet. It made a dramatic difference. Coating her digestive tract appeared to be very beneficial, which seems as if it would be common sense.
During this second acute attack they put her on IV’s to keep her hydrated, but due to the Carafate, there was limited blood loss and she only spent one night in the hospital. We were able to get her back home for just over $550 instead of the $2200 we had spent the first time.
Money Saving Tip #2 – Don’t Fast Small Dogs
After we switched to a new vet, he taught us that we should feed-through a pancreatitis attack since Angel was only 7 lbs. By dividing a normal meal into 2 or 3 small meals and feeding every 3-4 hours the pancreas still has a chance to rest.
Hydration is important as well, so never withhold water even if you are using a traditional fast in the case of a larger dog. When feeding, use something that is virtually fat free. We used chicken breast with all visible fat removed and rice. We gave Angel Gastrafate (now we use GastroElm Plus) about 5-10 minutes before offering her a small meal.
Money Saving Tip #3 – No More Acute Attacks
Sucralfate (Carafate Suspension) has an aluminum based compound as the active ingredient, so vets don’t like to keep animals on it for long periods of time. Angel, however, developed chronic pancreatitis after the first couple attacks, so our new vet found a more natural solution called Gastrafate which she could take on an ongoing basis.
I would give her a few milliliters in the morning and again at night. She absolutely hated the taste ( it smells like petroleum ) but it helped to protect her stomach. This combined with a VERY low fat diet kept her symptoms at bay for the most part, but I still had to get up with her in the middle of the night 2-3 times per week.
The other downside was that this regimen cost us about $55 per month, but we felt it was worth it because she didn’t have any more acute attacks. We were willing to spend $660 per year in order to keep her well.
Finally, We Found The Ultimate Solution!
By the spring of 2013 Angel’s health was in sharp decline. She was 12 1/2 years old and we assumed that five and a half years of pancreatitis had taken it’s toll on her body. At the same time there was a shortage of Gastrafate, so I was forced to do a ton of research to find a temporary substitute. This lead to a combination of herbs that included Slippery Elm Bark, Milk Thistle Seed, Marshmallow Root and Dandelion Root that would not only coat her digestive tract, but also strengthen her vital organs.
To our amazement, Angel had an immediate, positive response (literally overnight) to the new supplement! She was feeling better than she had in years and best of all the new supplement was only about $2 per month since she only weighed about seven pounds. Even an 80 pound dog can be treated for less than $14 per month.
The video above was taken a month or so after starting on what became GastroElm Plus. As you can see in that video, she was thriving! Angel had three more good years making it to 15 1/2 years old, dying from Liver failure caused by malignant tumors. She was an intact female who developed uterine cysts in her advanced age that became malignant.
At the time of her death we had her blood tested to confirm the liver issues and it showed that her pancreatic enzymes were right in the center of the normal range. Here is her final blood test:
Notice the Liver Enzymes are high, but the Lipase and Amylase were perfectly normal. Her first one was in October 2013 after being on GastroElm Plus for about five months. That was the first test in 6 years that she had normal lipase and amylase levels.
Our vet had never seen this happen before in a dog with chronic pancreatitis. As long as we gave her 3-4ml of prepared gel in the morning and again at night, she had very few stomach issues.
In addition to taking GastroElm Plus, she also remained on a low fat diet. It’s a combination that seems to work very well for managing symptoms over the long term. By the way, since being on this regimen she almost always slept through the night without any issues.
Angel's Low Fat Diet For Pancreatitis
This is just an example of what we have fed Angel the last 8 1/2 years of her life and we had great results. If you have a large dog, you may have to modify it a bit.
A major key to Angel’s long term success beating Pancreatitis was her diet. It was virtually fat free until all her tests were completely normal. We fed her a variety of things that she really liked and we learned to trust her instincts. We kept her meals small and feed her 4 times per day, 7am, noon, 5pm & 9pm. Even after her tests had normalized she always felt better if she ate smaller meals more frequently. She never did well on beef, even when she was young but after being on GastroElm Plus for a year she was able to eat lean beef in moderation with no issues.
– Chicken Breast – She liked Grilled or baked and I always removed all visible fat. She never liked boiled chicken.
– Dry curd cottage cheese (low sodium version) – high in protein & calcium with no fat and very little sodium. Here is the brand we used.
– Holistic vet, Dr. Michele Yasson, prefers to feed dogs quinoa, but for a little variety we also gave her Chickpea pasta which she loved.
– Green beans (Fresh or Frozen not canned because they are high in sodium)
– Pumpkin, squash or sweet potato. Pumpkin is soothing to the stomach and goes well with the cottage cheese.
1/3 – Chicken Breast
1/3 – Green Beans or Peas
1/3 – Quinoa
1/4 – Pumpkin
1/4 – Dry Curd Cottage Cheese
1/2 – Chicken Breast
1/3 – Sweet Potato with Dry Curd Cottage Cheese
1/3 – Quinoa
1/3 – Chicken Breast
For the last several years of her life Angel wasn’t on any prescription medication for her pancreatitis, just this diet and 3ml of GastroElm Plus in the morning and at bedtime. She wouldn’t eat it mixed with her food so I gave it to her using an oral syringe a few minutes prior to a meal. You can get a 10 or 12ml oral syringe from any vet or pharmacy. Most give them away for free.
Here is more information on using GastroElm Plus