Wallace came into German Shepherd Rescue Scotland in August 2010, he was 10 months old and had been diagnosed with Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) at 7 months old. His problems started at the age of 4 months just shortly after his second vaccination, and his family were struggling to cope.
EPI is a potentially life threatening condition where the part of the pancreas that produces digestive enzymes no longer functions properly, when this happens food can no longer be digested. This is why an EPI dog will literally starve to death without proper treatment. Although EPI is common in German Shepherds it is found in many other breeds too. There is no cure for EPI but it can be successfully managed, and dogs with EPI can live long, happy and active lives.
What are the symptoms?
· 'Cow Pat' stools that can look greasy or oily and smell awful
· Diarrhoea that won't go away
· Weight loss
· Ravenous appetite
· Voluminous & frequent stools
· Eating stools
· Gurgling and loud digestive noises, wind and burping
· Eating non-food items e.g wood, paper,
· Change in temperament
How can EPI be managed?
The aim in managing EPI is produce normal looking stools this is done replacing the missing enzymes with powdered enzymes or enzyme granules. There are a few options available here in the UK, and sometimes some trial and error is required to find the best enzyme for each dog.
There are 4 main factors consider when stabilising an EPI dog.
· Diet – Most EPI dogs do best on a grain-free diet, although some do tolerate rice. Fibre content should be no more than 4%.
· Enzymes – These are required with EVERY meal. All food must be treated and dogs with EPI shouldn't be given treats.
· B12 Deficiency - 82% of all EPI dogs have insufficient B12 levels, if this is not addressed then they won't gain weight. B12 injections are required to keep the dog's B12 levels in the upper ranges of normal.
· Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) - SIBO is caused when bacteria accumulate and ferment undigested food. A tell-tale sign of SIBO is a slimy, mucous coating on the stools. Most dogs will have SIBO when first diagnosed with EPI, treatment is a 30-45 day course of antibiotics. However until a dog stabilises SIBO can be on ongoing problem so sometimes a longer course of antibiotics is required. SIBO's bad bacteria use B12, which can cause B12 deficiencies, so if not treated properly a vicious cycle can form.
Wallace was placed in a foster home so that his foster Mum could get to grips with his EPI and stabilise him ready for his new family. She did well with the 'tweaking' of food, enzymes, B12 and antibiotics, he soon gained weight and lost his 'sad' look, dogs with EPI are often in pain until they are stabilised and you can see the pain in their faces. It wasn't long before he was running around with his doggy brother and sister, happy and healthy. But then she failed miserably at being a foster Mum, Wallace fitted in so well that she couldn't give him up!
German Shepherd Rescue Scotland supports Wallace, his enzymes aren't cheap and because he was given up to the rescue his insurance was no longer valid. The rescue pays for all of his enzymes and vet visits, he's one of our 'Supported Dogs'. He costs around £3000 per year for enzymes and B12 injections, this is a lot of money, but he deserved a chance. Sadly we can't support every dog with a medical condition but we do our best to help when we can.
Wallace will be 3 years old in October 2012, he has the odd setback but for the main he is stable and he loves life. He's a real wee character with a lot of love to give, he loves to be his Mum's shadow and trips her up constantly! He has a few wee quirks but then most EPI dogs do!