If your dog is diagnosed with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, he'll require special food and supplements for the rest of his life. Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency results in an inability to properly digest food and absorb nutrients. Feeding a dog with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency doesn't involve simply dietary changes, but a difference in the way a dog is fed. Your vet will advise you regarding your feeding choices.
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
The pancreas of dogs with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency no longer produces sufficient amounts of digestive enzymes necessary. By the time your dog shows signs of the disease, 90 percent or more of these enzymes are no longer available.
Any dog can develop exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, but the disease is more common in certain breeds. These include:
- German shepherds
- Rough collies
Dogs who have suffered from pancreatitis are more vulnerable to exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. Middle-aged and elderly dogs are most affected.
Suspect EPI if your dog develops a voracious appetite but actually loses weight. Because he can't absorb nutrients correctly, his body starts starving even if he eats a great deal. Other symptoms include:
- Behavioral changes, especially aggression
- Frequent defecation, with exceptionally large, smelly feces
- Soft yellow or gray stools or diarrhea
- Constant stomach noises
Food and Feeding
Your vet will recommend an easily digested, low-fat and fiber food for your pet. High fiber diets can interfere with the digestive enzymes you must feed your dog. Rather than feeding Fido one or two meals a day, your vet may suggest dividing his meals into three or four feedings.
Digestive Enzyme Supplementation
Dogs with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency require daily supplementation with digestive enzymes. These powdered enzymes are mixed in with meals. Once the symptoms of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency subside, you and your vet can figure out the lowest daily dosage of enzymes to keep the condition at bay.
If available, 1 to 3 ounces of raw pancreas -- or frozen and thawed raw pancreas -- can substitute for the digestive enzymes, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual.
Vitamin B-12 Injections
Along with digestive supplements, your dog requires vitamin B-12 injections, perhaps as often as every two or three weeks. Also known as cobalamin, vitamin B-12 deficiency occurs in exocrine pancreatic insufficiency patients because an overabundance of bacteria in the intestine tract is consuming the vitamin, rather than the animal's body absorbing it.