My dog has pancreatitis and bladder stones. What can I feed him to prevent both?

Question: 

I have a 10-year-old Yorkie who developed the crystal-type of bladder stones last year. After surgery, he was placed on a prescription diet to prevent future stones. A few weeks ago he came down with pancreatitis, and after he recovered, he had to change to a low-fat dog food. I tried going back to the prescription diet to prevent stones, but then the pancreatitis came back again. 
 
As I don't want him getting either bladder stones or pancreatitis, what should I feed my dog? 

 

Answer: 

Pancreatitis can develop for many reasons, and sometimes it is unrelated to diet. If your Yorkie has been on the prescription diet for stone prevention since last year without problems, the diet probably was not the cause. That said, it is generally beneficial to put dogs with pancreatitis on a low-fat and lower-protein diet, regardless of the initial cause. 
 
The ideal diet for your Yorkie depends partially on what type of stones he had. Usually stones are submitted after surgery to identify the exact type. If not, a urinalysis can be helpful in making an educated guess (although this can be misleading- including the fact that urinary crystals can differ in type from the stones). In some cases, dietary supplements/medications also can be used to reduce the risk of stone recurrence. 
 
If the ideal diet for this combination of issues does not exist commercially, a customized/homecooked diet often can be designed in conjunction with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist. There are multiple resources that provide this type of service (usually for a fee), including some websites. 
 
However, you should exercise caution regarding websites, as misleading and even dangerous information is common regarding veterinary diets. If your regular veterinarian is unsure how to proceed, they could partner with a local internal medicine specialist. They will have connections with reliable nutritional resources, and also will be experienced and comfortable with optimal management - nutritional and otherwise - of pancreatitis in a dog with a history of urinary stones. 
 
A list of internal medicine specialists can be found on the ExpertVet website. However, it is important to keep your current veterinarian involved, so that the internist is aware of your dog's complete medical history and results, along with medications, and your regular veterinarian can follow up as needed after seeing the internist.