How pancreatitis killed my beloved dog

How pancreatitis killed my beloved dog

To me, a dog has always been another member of the family. I have grown up with dogs my whole life and always had Jack Russells.

And in around 2008, me and my hubby got our first 'baby' - a little cutesy Jack Russell we called Zippee. He was literally our first baby! 

Jack Russel Puppy

He came everywhere with us, slept in our bed and was exceptionally spoiled!

Jack russel

For food we went with the vets recommendation and fed the highest quality kibble sold at the vets and never once questioned it.

And it is strange I never questioned it as It was around 2008 that I started really getting into health and nutrition for humans. 

zippee at the beach

I threw myself into learning about nutrition for humans and this ended up me launching The Healthy Mummy which was based around health and nutrition and really went up against and questioned the norms of what we were feeding ourselves and our kids - but it never occurred to me to question what we were feeding our dog......

The healthy mummy

Anyway, fast forward a few years and we are back and forth to the vet non stop. Zippee had developed severe allergies - so much so that he couldn't even go onto grass for a couple of minutes before having a rash go all over his legs and tummy.

We used to have to have to keep him off grass at all costs and we were armed with cortisol spray at all times just in case!

grass allergies

He also developed anxiety and we spent a heap of money on anxiety treatments.

But never once did diet come up in any conversations. Not once.

But what did come up on a vet visit was Zippee needed to lose 1kg and he got recommended the Hills Diet weight loss product. Which we bought and Zippee hated with a vengeance!

Plus he didn't lose any weight!

Then in 2017 disaster struck. Zippee was only 9 years old and managed to sneak into our garage and into the bins and ended up finding a pack of 8 sausages in the bin. And he ate them all.

I remember being so cross at him for doing it and annoyed at myself for not locking the garage door.

But then the next day he started behaving differently to normal. He seemed to behave strangely - and seemed really off. He was quiet (which wasn't normal) and was moving slowly and shiftily (which wasn't normal). And he was looking at me a lot with HELP eyes. And he started to vomit.

So off to the vet we went. And as it was a weekend, it was double time costs (thank goodness we had pet insurance).

And they said that they needed to keep him in and do tests.

dog on the boat


Pancreatitis in dogs

The next 4 days were a whirlwind and I still can't believe it all happened.

The next day they said that he had developed pancreatitis (from eating all the sausages all in one go) and the only way to save him was to operate on his pancreas and then if it went well the pancreas would regenerate.

But that it was expensive - $10,000 to go ahead. Luckily we had pet insurance so it was a no brainer.

Zippee was our everything and me, my hubby and my two young boys, couldn't imagine life without him and we wanted to do everything we could to save him.

So the operation went ahead and the good news was that the vet said it was successful. But that they needed to keep Zip in for a few days to ensure it progressed ok.

But day 2 after the operation came and so did the bad news. He couldn't keep any food down and they did another ultrasound and scan and it hadn't worked.


Zippee was in so much pain. The vet said they could keep doing more operations but the likelihood of success was less than 5% and they recommended putting him to sleep.

I remember the call so well and it was so traumatic. We made the call to let him be and to go in peace. We all went to the vets to say our goodbyes and it was absolutely heartbreaking.

The vet bills were in excess of $15,000 and although the operations hadn't worked we were so grateful that we had tried to save him and had the pet insurance to help him - as without that we just didn't have the money.

What is  pancreatitis in dogs?

Pancreatitis is swelling in your dog's pancreasPancreatitis is the medical word for swelling in the pancreas. The pancreas is an organ next to your dog's stomach that makes enzymes to help them digest their food and insulin to help them regulate their blood sugar.

It's common in dogs who eat a lot of high-fat foods, especially if they eat a lot of it at one sitting - which is what Zippee when he ate a pack of sausages

Signs of pancreatitis in dogs

Loss of appetite or refusal to eat.

Repeated vomiting. This could be several times within a few hours or every so often over several days. 

Weakness or listlessness. Any dog that seems weak, listless, or otherwise unwell needs to visit the vet.

Dehydration. Signs of this include panting, sunken eyes, dry nose, and thick spit. 

If your dog is suffering from any of these symptoms, please take them to the vet right away

When Zippee died of pancreatitis I was so annoyed at myself that he was able to get into the bins and why I didn't know about the dangers of dogs eating a large amount of fatty foods. I just couldn't believe he could die from eating a pack of sausages but he did and I later learned that pancreatitis in dogs is common from overindulging in fatty foods in one sitting.

So I hope that me sharing my story helps other dog owners to not have this happen to them.

Life after Zippee

After this, I said NO MORE DOGS. I was scarred after the loss of Zippee and I didn't want to go through it again. Losing a pet is so awful and I was adamant not to get another one.

I kept this up for a few years then in late 2021, my husband went behind my back, and bought a little miniature cavoodle for Christmas (yes literally surprised me and my two boys on Christmas day with the puppy!) and I couldn't believe it as I had said NO MORE DOGS EVER!

But Frankie won me over in days and I am so soft that I even agreed to get another dog so he wasn't a billy no mates - so now we have two little cavoodles!

raw food recipes

But looking back, what really gets me is that no one ever mentioned diet. The allergies and the anxiety Zippee suffered from was extreme and what I know today is that kibble and commercial dog food are some of the worse foods we can give our dogs and are directly linked to allergies and even anxiety.

Luckily with Maxie and Frankie I have learnt all about the best health and nutrition for dogs and they have the best chance of a long, healthy and happy life. I just wish I would have known when Zippee was alive, all I now know.

So much so that my experience (and realisation about what was in dog food and how Maxie was allergic to chicken) propelled me to want to create an education platform, program and freeze dried food options so dogs could be in their best health possible with Healthy Active Pet.

I am a big believer in looking forward not back and my mission and passion with Healthy Active Pet is to help inform and educate as many dog owners as possible about the best health and nutrition options available for their fur baby.

And I am obviously a big advocate of pet insurance too and I have it for Maxie and Frankie too! And if you are looking to check out pet insurance I can highly recommend Bow Wow Meow (P.S you also get your first 2 months free)

And you can see our recipes that I now use with Maxie and Frankie and our freeze dried dog food here  

freeze dried dog food

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