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Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency in Dogs… What is it? And how can you treat it?

Since exocrine pancreatic insufficiency isn’t necessarily the first thing that someone decides to look up while “surfing the web,” we can naturally assume that you either suspect something might be wrong with your dog or your dog has already been diagnosed with this condition. Now, you want to learn more about exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.

Which makes perfect…

Sense to us, which is why we here at IndulgeYourPet decided to write this article so that we can shed a little light on exactly what this condition is without getting too technical so that the “average” person doesn’t lose their mind with all of the scientific mumbo jumbo. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency  Defined

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) sounds like a highly complex disease, but it has a straightforward concept. In dogs, EPI is primarily caused by pancreatic acinar atrophy (PAA), which disturbs the pancreatic acinar cells that secrete enzymes in the pancreas.

This causes…

The food your pet eats is not adequately digested in the small intestine, which makes it unable to digest the food you feed it well and absorb the nutrients it needs to live. Or, to put it another way, your dog begins to starve even though they have plenty to eat! Additionally, the “insufficiency” also allows for bacterial “overgrowth” to occur, and the lining of the small intestine can begin to deteriorate, leading to many severe consequences for your dog down the line.


Since there are insufficient cells to produce the pancreatic enzymes to digest starches and lipids, the body cannot break down these nutrients and, as we’ve already mentioned, will start to starve despite having access to plenty of food.

Common Symptoms 

Since all this is happening inside your loved one’s body, you’re not going to be able to todiagnoses EPI immediately. However, there are some symptoms and clinical signs you can see on the outside as the disease progresses, which is nothing else that will indicate that you need to have your dog checked out ASAP.

Symptoms such as:

  • Large amounts of diarrhea,
  • Loss of strength and energy,
  • Unexplained weight loss,
  • Vigorous eating like a scavenger,
  • And deterioration in their coat and fur.

Although even if your furry friend has all of these symptoms, it may not necessarily mean they have EPI. Intestinal Parasites, Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and pancreatitis all have similar symptoms, further complicating the diagnosis.

It is important to note that…

It is crucial to bring your four-legged buddy to the veterinarian as soon as possible once you begin to see signs that your dog is not doing well. This is because proper treatment is essential for having your dog fullyrecoveryr. Or, to put it another way, this will not resolve itself on its own.

Which brings us to…

A good point in this article is to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not medical professionals and are certainly not veterinarians. We are all a bunch of folks passionate about animals and want to help pet owners do what’s best for their loved ones. We want the best for your pet, so we provide the information you need to treat your furry friend.

This is why one of the main phrases we go by here at IndulgeYourPet is:

“When in doubt, have your vet check it out.”

So you can ensure a safe treatment for your pet. It is always better to take your pet to the veterinarian early, especially in the case of EPI, where the longer you wait, the more the pancreas and small intestine deteriorate.

Commonly Affected Breeds

This is because they are susceptible to getting pancreatic acinar atrophy (PAA), which is the disease that causes EPI. German Shepherd dogs are the most affected of these breeds, with 70% of all dogs with EPI being a German Shepherd. For collies, 20% of all affected dogs with EPI are collies.

Now, you may be wondering…

What treatments are available for your furry friend with EPI? the good news is that EPI is treatable, although not a one-time cure. The treatment is extensive and includes:

  • Periodic treatment with antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drugs for treatment of the small intestinal lining,
  • Continual pancreatic enzyme supplementation for life as a way of enzyme replacement,
  •  Low-fat diet because the pancreas does not produce the enzymes needed to digest fat,
  • And supplemental oral vitamins like vitamins K and E and cobalamin to treat vitamin and cobalamin deficiencies stemming from being unable to digest food fully.

And here lies the problem…

While it is fantastic that EPI is treatable, the cost of such treatment can add up. First of all, diagnostic tests to first de EPI can run upwards of $500, and the constant medications can add up to $300 to $1000 a year, not to mention the check-ups your dog will require to ensure their continuous well-being and the low-fat food they need.

This is why…

At IndulgeYourPet, we typically recommend that everyone considering purchasing an animal at least take a few moments and explore what it might cost to buy a pet insurance policy.  This way, you are not the sole person paying for your four-legged family member’s vet bills and medications and can offer them the best treatments for whatever they are enduring.


You never know what type of medical issues your pet may have throughout itslifetimee and knowing that you have an insurance policy in place that could “shield” you from costly bills is always a great feeling to have!

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “Best” pet insurance policies, please check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.

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