2001-Tue Feb 21 18:19:05 EST 2017
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) happens when the pancreas is unable to produce enzymes that help with digestion. Both
dogs and cats are susceptible to the condition and often experience diarrhea, weight loss, and poor body condition due to their inability to absorb nutrients. Since its symptoms mirror those of other diseases, EPI may go undiagnosed and untreated. Fortunately, once diagnosed, it can be treated with nutritional supplements and dietary modification.
The pancreas is responsible for a variety of functions, one of which is the secretion of enzymes and other factors that aid in the digestion of food. When the part of the pancreas that performs this function is damaged, EPI can occur, disrupting normal digestion in the intestines and leading to bacterial overgrowth, poor nutrient absorption, and changes to the lining of the intestine.
One cause of EPI in
dogs is believed to be inherited. In other cases, chronic
pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) can lead to EPI. EPI in cats is less common than in dogs, and generally results from chronic
Pets with EPI typically suffer severe, voluminous diarrhea. The inability to absorb nutrients also results in unthriftiness, weight loss, and poor skin or coat condition. Though most pets will eat ravenously to compensate for a lack of nutrients,
cats, in particular, may suffer bouts of anorexia.
Many other diseases (including
intestinal parasites and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) cause similar symptoms, which may obscure diagnosis. Veterinarians have to run specific laboratory tests in order to confirm the presence of EPI.
English Setters are predisposed to pancreatic acinar atrophy, an inherited condition that can lead to EPI. In
cats, breed predilections have not been determined.
The cornerstone of EPI treatment is a lifetime of pancreatic enzyme supplements to replace those the pancreas fails to secrete. Powdered pancreatic extracts are most common. Your veterinarian may also recommend a
prescription diet or dietary supplements to help manage the condition.
Because some pets also suffer small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or inflammatory processes of the intestine, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drugs are sometimes required on a periodic or ongoing basis for successful EPI treatment.
This article has been reviewed by a Veterinarian.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Many dogs will eat just about anything in
their path. That's why it's so important to
know the signs of intestinal…
From taking pills to clipping nails,
we’re here to help you take the stress
out of things many dogs loathe.
With plenty of patience, practice and
praise your dog might be willing to accept
— or even enjoy — this dental care…
Need a leash for regular outings or one
that can walk multiple canines? These
types of leashes are your best…
The fun and rambunctious Flat-Coated Retriever, known for his puppyish enthusiasm, makes a great family pet.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
Thank you for subscribing.