EPI ~Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
The Disease, The Condition
EPI, Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, is the inability of the acinar cells of the exocrine pancreas to produce and secrete the 3 necessary enzymes needed to digest food.
· Amylase for digestion of carbohydrates (sugars & starches in grains, fruits & vegetables),
· Lipases for digestion of fats and oils,
· Trypsin and Proteases for digestion of proteins.
EPI, is sometimes referred to as Pancreatic Hypoplasia or Pancreatic Acinar Atrophy (PAA).
Or EPI can also be the secondary condition of a chronic illness, such as chronic pancreatitis.
Without these naturally produced pancreatic digestive enzymes, food remains undigested and unabsorbed resulting in an EPI dog, who although is eating copious amounts of food, is constantly undernourished and can literally waste away. Without proper treatment, the EPI dog can die a painful death from malnourishment, starvation or organ failure.
With EPI, organ, immune, nervous and all other body systems may become compromised to one degree or another. A lack of nutrients often results in temperament changes which may express themselves in fear and/or aggression.
It is a devastating, frustrating disease that is all too often misdiagnosed. Symptoms usually do not appear until anywhere between 80% and 95% of the exocrine pancreas acinar cells are destroyed. What makes this disease even harder to diagnose is that not all dogs display any or all of the symptoms all of the time. Any breed can have EPI.
The most common symptoms are:
- Gradual wasting away despite a voracious appetite
- Eliminating much more frequently, sometimes every hour or two
- Stools are greasy voluminous yellowish cow-plops, but sometimes grayish
- Eating their own stools, or other inappropriate substances
- Increased rumbling sounds from the abdomen
- Increased passing amounts of flatulence
- Some dogs do not show any typical signs
- Some experience intermittent watery diarrhea or vomiting
EPI can manifest anytime in a dog's life - - from a young pup to an elderly dog, with the severity and symptoms of the disease varying somewhat with each dog. Sometimes the dog has the disease but symptoms do not appear at all, until exacerbated or triggered through a stressful physical or emotional situation.
Always confirm EPI with a trypsin-like immunoreativity (cTLI) blood test (12 hour fast). Normal range is between 5.0 - 35.0
Because GSD and their crossbreeds make up 50% of positively diagnosed EPI case, Anytime gastro upsets persist with a GSD, It is strongly advised to have them fasted for a cTLI test.
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