EPI Warning Signs and What to Look For - The Trupanion Blog
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EPI Warning Signs and What to Look For

If your dog vomits in the house and makes diarrhea messes in the yard, you worry. What’s wrong with your constant companion and best friend? Your beloved companion could have something called exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.

dog grass outside back yardWhat is EPI?
Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, known as EPI, is a disease that prevents your dog’s pancreas from producing the enzymes he needs to digest his food and absorb nutrients properly. It often affects dogs between one and five years old.

How Does EPI Affect Your Dog?
If left untreated, EPI causes symptoms similar to celiac disease or chronic pancreatitis in humans. Your dog will eat and drink ravenously yet lose weight. He will also experience flatulence, tummy rumblings, brittle hair and lethargy. He could eventually die.

What Causes EPI?
Genetic factors primarily cause EPI. German Shepherds contract over half of all known EPI cases. Rough Collies, Chihuahuas, Beagles, Chow Chows, Terriers and other breeds also suffer from EPI.

While veterinarians try to prevent dogs with EPI from reproducing, your dog may have the disease. Contact your veterinarian as soon as you notice any EPI symptoms or other health changes in your beloved dog.

How is EPI Diagnosed?
Veterinarians have known about the disease for 150 years, but it’s been diagnosed more frequently in recent years. As thousands of new cases are diagnosed annually in the U.S., veterinarians and pet owners are more aware of the condition. If you suspect your dog may have EPI, ask your veterinarian to perform the blood test they can use to diagnose the disease.

Is EPI Treatable?
A positive diagnosis doesn’t mean you’ll lose your dog. Several treatment options assist your dog in living a normal life. Dried bovine or pork pancreas extract contains enzymes your dog needs. It’s available in pill or powder form. Veterinarians continue developing other enzyme-rich medicines as well.

In addition to enzyme supplements, vitamin B12 injections, a low fiber diet and antibiotics improve your dog’s quality of life. Your dog can return to normal health while receiving life-saving EPI treatment.

Samaiyah Islam is a recent college graduate and avid dog lover. She writes about pet health care on behalf of Pet Medical Center of Edmond and Sunset Vet Clinic.

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