Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency

by: Dr. Jennifer Mutchler from Animal Medical Center

Howie is a 1 year old male German Shepherd presented for constant diarrhea, decreased energy and weight loss since being neutered by another vet the previous month. Howie was about 15 lbs underweight and having diarrhea at least 20 times per day. Bloodwork showed low protein, low cholesterol, and low amylase, which is a pancreatic enzyme. Howie had already been dewormed multiple times with different products, and his fecal test was negative. The low blood protein alerted us to the fact that Howie was losing valuable protein through his continued diarrhea. Additional bloodwork showed negative CPL, low Cobalamin, high Folate, and low TLI which supported diagnosis of Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI). EPI occurs when the pancreas fails to produce enzymes and bicarbonate. This leads to the inability to properly digest food. Dogs suffering from EPI will have weight loss, poor haircoat, and large quantities of greasy, pale, loose stool. This condition is almost always seen in either German Shepherds or Rough-coated Collies. Howie was started on powdered pancreatic enzymes sprinkled over a highly digestible, low-fat/low-fiber diet, and Cobalamin (Vitamin B12) injections. These treatments are needed life-long, but after the first month of treatment, he had already gained 5 lbs and was having a bowel movement only 4 times daily.