Picture courtesy of -sel on flickr

Just as humans can suffer from digestive disorders, so can our lovable pets. Most pet owners don’t realize that a dog’s and cat’s systems are somewhat like our own in the illnesses that can occur. A dog or cat suffering from digestive problems can develop a serious condition called EPI.

EPI or Exocrine Pancreatic Deficiency is a life-threatening condition that can affect both dogs and cats. In today’s domesticated pets, the diet has drastically changed from raw foods to cooked and processed foods. Animals need the enzymes in raw meats to keep their digestive systems healthy. Feeding our animals processed and cooked foods out of cans and bags can cause the pancreas to take over the digestive enzyme production. This can lead to the overtaxing of the organ which results in EPI.

EPI is caused by the pancreas being overworked. It stops producing enzymes and causes malnutrition in the animal. Your pet may be eating all the time, but losing weight rapidly. Many EPI pet owners suffer through the stares and hateful taunts of people thinking they are starving their animals. Since this is a rare condition, most people do not understand it, and even experienced veterinarians can have a hard time diagnosing the disorder.

EPI is a fairly rare disorder. Because the symptoms of the disorder do not begin showing until the pancreas is almost completely shut down, the effects can be devastating! Most vets do not routinely check for EPI, so it is important for pet owners to understand the symptoms and be proactive in their pet’s care.

EPI Symptoms

The symptoms of EPI include:

  1. Cow patty stools that are not normal in color
  2. Diarrhea that does not go away
  3. Rapid and extreme weight loss
  4. Voracious appetite

If left untreated, the disorder worsens rapidly and can cause death.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you suspect your pet may have EPI, it is important to contact your vet right away! Your vet can conduct a cTLI blood test. This is a test that is done after at least 12 hours of fasting, and costs around $100. The test measures the amount of Tripsinogen and Trypsinin in the blood. Low levels normally support a diagnosis of EPI.

Treatment for EPI involves a diet change and supplement treatment for your pet. This is a life-long treatment that must be carried out to reverse the symptoms of EPI. The good news is that with treatment, dogs and cats go on to live long and healthy lives!

Your pet will be given enzyme supplements to help replace the enzymes that should be produced in the body. These strong enzymes help to repair the digestive system so that food nutrients can be absorbed. Once you have your prescription, you can normally purchase the enzymes through your vet. There are also online pet stores that sell these supplements. The enzyme supplements normally run around $150 a month. This does not include the price of special food or antibiotics.

Antibiotics and B12 injections are also a part of the regime. These treatments are used to combat the secondary issues that can be caused by EPI. The most important part of treatment besides enzyme therapy is a proper diet. Many EPI animals thrive on a raw diet, but some animals need a mixed diet of both raw and kibble. It truly just depends on how your pet responds.

If your pet has any of the symptoms of EPI, contact your vet today so you can get your pet tested and on the road to recovery!

Sources:

http://www.globalspan.net/epi.htm

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