In short, yes, kibble can cause pancreatitis and here is why.
Highly processed dry foods like kibble are completely devoid of enzymes. Enzymes help with digestion. But in cases where food is devoid of enzymes, the body is forced to produce everything required to digest the kibble.
The job of producing the missing enzymes falls mostly on the pancreas. But this causes the pancreas to become enlarged and often inflamed. Pancreatitis means inflammation of the pancreas.
It is exceptionally painful, causing the dog to attempt to relieve the pain by adopting a praying posture, with its bottom up in the air and its chest on the floor. It will often cry and generally does not want to eat, until it is starving and just has to eat something.
Eating increases the pain, as the inflamed pancreas valiantly tries its best to make to required enzymes to digest this so-called food.
A large number of experimental rats were divided into two equal groups. One group was fed species appropriate raw food, which for a rat is virtually anything!
The other group were fed the same food, but cooked. When you cook food you kill all the enzymes in it - so the cooked food was devoid of enzymes. After just 3 months, the poor rats were sacrificed so that scientists could study their organs.
The pancreases of the rats fed with cooked food were three times bigger than those of rats fed with raw food. In other words the rats who ate cooked food had hugely inflamed pancreases. The difference in size was massive and caused by forcing the rats to make all their own enzymes so they could to digest the cooked, (processed) food they were forced to eat.
The exact same thing is happening inside your dearly beloved kibble fed dog.
Your dog will probably continue to eat and suffer the pain rather than die of starvation. If you continue feeding kibble, the situation will worsen unless you add a well sourced range of enzymes to take the load off the pancreas and still allow the kibble to be digested.
Chronic pancreatitis usually leads to diabetes. Insulin producing cells, which are called the Islets of Langerhans, are dotted around in little clusters, within the pancreas.
When the pancreas is inflamed and enlarged, these little groups of cells become squashed and end up with a reduced blood supply. The Islets of Langerhans are further damaged by the inflammatory byproducts of the inflamed pancreatic cells.
The ability of the Islets of Langerhans to produce insulin is dramatically reduced. This leads to Type 2 diabetes which adds to the already miserable chronic pancreatitis your dog is suffering.
All this pain is not worth the convenience of throwing some indigestible dried old biscuits into a bowl instead of making a bit of effort for your dog, as you would for the rest of your family.
Don’t you think your faithful friend deserves better fuel to power his wagging tail? The little time you save by feeding kibble is soon lost when you spend heart wrenching hours at the vets, treating the condition that you have caused your pet to suffer.
The drugs are expensive and not without further side effects and negative consequences. Prevention is better than cure, for everyone involved.
If you like to see your dog enjoying a crunchy snack, then you can make your own raw kibble crunchy biscuits, by dehydrating raw ingredients at low temperatures.
As long as you dehydrate at temperatures below 41 degrees Celsius (105 degrees Fahrenheit), you won't destroy the enzymes in the food and won't stress your dog's pancreas.