Signs of EPI in the GSD
Do you know the signs of EPI in the GSD? Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (also called EPI in the GSD) is a medical condition in which the pancreas stops producing enough digestive enzymes to digest food normally in the small intestine.
In dogs diagnosed to have Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, the German Shepherd Dog is very common as well as the Rough-coated Collie. One estimate shows that about 70% of dogs diagnosed with EPI are German Shepherds and 20% are Rough-coated Collies.
What is the pancreas and EPI you may ask? And what does this have to do with my German Shepherd?
It's a shame how many German Shepherd owners don't know about this condition and how many Vets aren't up to speed on the evaluation and treatment of Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. EPI in the GSD can result from primary pancreatic disease or any number of diseases that interfere with the correct production of enzymes by the pancreas or of activation of the enzymes in the intestine.
Following is a brief explanation: the "exocrine" part of the pancreas produces the enzymes we use to digest our food properly. Without adequate production of these particular enzymes your GSD cannot digest its food properly.
If your German Shepherd can't digest it's food, it will not be able to absorb the food's nutrients properly as well. While this disorder can be potentially life threatening, especially in its acute form, it does respond well to ongoing and daily treatments.
In fact, here's one dog food you might want to consider if your German Shepherd has EPI!
Typically, the exocrine functions of the pancreas can malfunction in one of two ways. First, in acute pancreatitis, the dog's pancreas becomes inflamed, causing vomiting and loss of appetite with resulting dehydration. This requires immediate veterinary attention.
Secondly, a previously healthy animal begins to exhibit some or all of the following symptoms: ravenous appetite, excessive water-drinking, and very soft "cow patty" stools. No matter how much the dog eats, it will be hungry soon after and will soon begin to lose weight. Typically, EPI in the GSD is presented in young adult dogs, usually between 1 to 5 years of age.
The diagnosis of Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency needs to be confirmed by use of laboratory tests. Diarrhea and foul smelling feces due to high fat content results, and because all the food ingredients are not being digested completely the German Shepherd will become malnourished.
Signs of Exocrine Pancreatic
Most often, these EPI products are given in powder form or as crushed tablets and then mixed with the food and left on it for about 30 minutes at room temperature before feeding takes place. Occasionally oral antibiotics may be needed as well.
• Feed several small meals daily (at least 3 or more)
• Feed a highly digestible, palatable, complete ration. Consult you veterinarian
• Ideal diet for a GSD with EPI : low fiber, low in fat, low excess carbohydrates
Once diagnosed, this treatment is a lifelong commitment for you and your GSD. It may be possible to regulate the condition of EPI in the GSD's who are not so severely affected by feeding a bland low-fat, low-fiber diet with an over-the-counter enzyme supplement.
For the more severely affected German Shepherd a more serious
If EPI enzyme supplementation is stopped for any reason then all the unpleasant symptoms will recur in your dog - and very soon.
Oftentimes the GSD's response to therapy can be seen within a week or so of starting treatment. The owner of a German Shepherd diagnosed with Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency needs to be very attentive to their GSD's overall condition. After figuring out the correct amount of enzyme(s) needed to produce relatively normal stools and to stop weight loss, the GSD owner can usually feed enough food to help the dog regain lost weight. Relapses are always possible and are shown either in the return of diarrhea or in resumed weight loss.
The owner has to watch carefully for any of these returning symptoms. Generally speaking, as long as the GSD owner is vigilant in maintaining the diet and enzyme supplements needed by the EPI patient, then the German Shepherd with EPI can live a happy and relatively normal life.
Return from EPI in the GSD to Arthritis in the GSD
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Thank you for this web site. Very informative and well written. I often advise my shepherd people to visit here for information. Again GREAT JOB. Laura Page Warden, DVM
What a fabulous website!!! I really enjoyed reading about the history of the dogs. There is a ton of helpful information on here and defiantly something for every reader to enjoy!!! Misty Weaver
Recently got a GSD again. Last time had GSD no internet etc. Cant believe how much info for free. Kenneth
I love and appreciate the helpful advice I found on your website! Rachelle