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Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency German Shepherd

Pancreatic Acinar Atrophy And Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency in the German Shepherd – EPI

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency , a clinical maldigestion syndrome of dogs characterized by weight loss, diarrhea, steatorrhea, is caused by failure of the pancreas to synthesize and secrete adequate amounts of digestive enzymes. In dogs, EPI appears to be caused most frequently by the atrophy and loss of enzyme-producing acinar cells, termed pancreatic acinar atrophy , as the result of an autoimmune mechanism directed to acinar epithelial cells. Clinical diagnosis is based on characteristic clinical signs of weight loss in the face of a voracious appetite, abundant, gray, malodorous feces, and low levels of serum trypsin-like immunoreactivity or fecal hydrolase .

Figure 17. The duodenal limb of the pancreas of a dog with pancreatic acinar atrophy.

EPI affects dogs of many breeds, with distinctly enhanced risk of occurrence in the German shepherd, rough-coated Collie, Chow Chow, and Cavalier King Charles spaniel breeds of dogs. Originally believed to be a simple autosomal recessive trait, recent work examining the canine major histocompatibility complex in affected German shepherd dogs points to a more complex mechanism of inheritance, probably as the result of a combination of genetic and epigenetic/environmental factors. Protective and high-risk haplotypes of dog leukocyte antigen have been identified.

In , 2004

Exercise And Activity Levels

German Shepherds and Border Collies are historically hard workers with energy only matched by a few other dogs. As such, Shollies are a highly active breed ready to put their energy to use doing just about anything.

Previously set aside for herding, the breed needs someone who can keep pace with its fast-paced nature. They also need to be engaged in exercise and activities that benefit both mind and body.

Can You Afford A Shollie

While it isnt one of the most expensive dog breeds globally, Shollies dont come cheap at all. From the moment you get a Shollie, youll incur expenses how much it eventually costs depends entirely on how you get the dog and how long it lives.

To help you see if you can afford the Shepherd Collie, check out the information related to the costs of owning a Shollie.

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What Are The Signs Your German Shepherd May Have Epi

The fact that something is wrong with your beloved pet will be rather obvious with EPI. Common signs include:

Weight Loss

Weight loss is a classic and almost universal sign of EPI. Since EPI German Shepherds are not producing enzymes to break down their food, they cannot gain any nutritional value.

The body is actually starving itself, and you will notice pronounced weight loss, as well as failure to gain muscles or padding.

Many dogs appear emaciated with ribs, pelvis, and bones of the head and face pronouncing themselves more than usual.

A telltale sign of EPI is when your dog appears to eat normal amounts but still seems to lose weight. Even feeding your dog extra meals appears to accomplish nothing at all.

Also worth noting is that puppies with EPI will fail to thrive, often having dull coats.

Ravenous Appetite

Unlike many other illnesses, dogs with often eat like they are starving. A ravenous appetite also may spill into coprophagy, or eating their feces.

You may also observe your dog has a desire to eat anything that is not nailed down, including foreign objects.

Beyond a puppys behavior of putting everything in their mouths, you will notice an EPI German Shepherd has a fixation with eating.

See also: 6 Best Dog Foods for EPI German Shepherds

Foul-Smelling Copious Stools

When a dog has exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, you will see evidence of undigested waste. EPI dogs tend to have stools with high volume and a distinctive foul odor.

Diagnosis Of Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency

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Diagnosing Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency can be difficult. Often a diagnosis is not made until the disease has become severe. However, catching EPI before it has progressed significantly is possible if a dog owner is able to observe some of the symptoms listed above.

There are two main types of tests that can be performed to determine if your German Shepherd has Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency. A veterinarian will usually begin with a blood test to check the level of enzymes present in the bloodstream. If the digestive enzyme level is too low, this is a strong indication that EPI is present.

Another test that a vet may perform is a fecal analysis. This is another way to determine the levels of digestive enzymes being produced by the pancreas. However, the blood test is more reliable and is often the only test necessary to make a clear diagnosis for Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency.

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It’s All About The Poos

If you have never dealt with EPI then this may sound a bit bonkers but anyone with an EPI dog will understand this statement completely. When you start treating an EPI dog your aim is to get the poos looking like that of any other healthy dog. Your dog can’t talk, he can’t tell you when you are getting things right and when you are getting them wrong, but you know that you have found a balance when the poos start looking the way they should!

It may take a bit of tweaking and a few tears along the way but with care and attention EPI dogs can live happy healthy lives. Even when you do find a balance it may only last a few weeks, a few months or even a few years then suddenly the poos go wrong again, that’s when you know a little more tweaking is required.

Wallace is a rescue dog with EPI He is a happy, loving little lad

Diagnosis Of Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency In Dogs And Cats

  • Measurement of serum trypsin-like immunoreactivity

A serum trypsin-like immunoreactivity concentration of â¤2.5 mcg/L in dogs or â¤8.0 mcg/L in cats is diagnostic for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. Because digestion of a macronutrient can often be accomplished by more than one enzyme, lack of exocrine pancreatic secretions does not necessarily lead to clinical signs. For example, several German Shepherds with subclinical EPI have been reported. These dogs had severely decreased serum TLI concentrations and a lack of exocrine pancreatic tissue but no or only intermittent clinical signs of EPI.

An assay that measures fecal elastase in dogs has been validated. Unfortunately, some healthy dogs or dogs with chronic small-intestinal disease may have a severely decreased fecal elastase concentration, making this test much less reliable than serum TLI concentration.

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Normal Exocrine Pancreatic Function

The exocrine pancreas secretes many different zymogens for digesting carbohydrates, fats, and proteins . Protein digestion is catalyzed by the enzymes trypsin, chymotrypsin, and carboxypeptidase. These proteolytic digestive enzymes are initially released from the pancreas as the zymogens trypsinogen, chymotrypsinogen, and procarboxypeptidase, respectively, and are activated once they reach the small intestine. In the presence of chyme, enterocytes release enteropeptidase, which activates some of the trypsinogen. Additionally, the newly formed trypsin assists in activating all three zymogens. This delayed activation prevents autodigestion of pancreatic proteins. Once activated, trypsin and chymotrypsin break down proteins into smaller peptides, while carboxypeptidase further processes some of these peptides into amino acids.

Figure 1. Normal exocrine pancreatic function in animals.

Carbohydrate digestion is facilitated by pancreatic amylase secretion, which hydrolyzes most carbohydrates into disaccharides and some trisaccharides. Finally, the exocrine pancreas facilitates fat digestion by releasing the enzymes pancreatic lipase, cholesterol esterase, and phospholipase and the zymogen procolipase, which is activated by trypsin to form colipase.

What Are The Causes Of Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency

How To Choose The Best Dog Food for EPI German Shepherds

The most common cause of EPI in adult dogs is chronic acinar atrophy. This atrophy seems idiopathic in several breeds and seems unique to dogs, even though some cases have been infrequently reported in other species. German Shepherd as well as rough-coated collies have a genetic predisposition for an immune-mediated condition called atrophic lymphocytic pancreatitis, resulting also in chronic acinar atrophy. Pancreatic hypoplasia is a possible but rare cause of EPI in dogs. Chronic pancreatitis seems to be a rare cause of EPI in dogs, whereas in cats, this condition seems to be the major cause of EPI.

Robert G. Sherding, Susan E. Johnson, in, 2006

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Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency In Older German Shepherds

If you are a German Shepherd owner, you should be aware of Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency , a potentially life-threatening disease. EPI is caused by the pancreas not producing enough digestive enzymes, which can lead to malnourished and other health problems. EPI is a common health issue in German Shepherds, so If your dog has symptoms of EPI, it is important to get him diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Thankfully, EPI can be successfully managed with proper care.

n this blog post and podcast, we talk with Olesia Kennedy, the founder of EPI 4 Dogs, who teaches about everything EPI. Her website,epi4dogs.comis a wealth of invaluable information for those who have a dog with EPI or suspect their dog has EPI.

Theres even a forum you can join and chat with other EPI dog moms and dads who share their stories and advice….andITS ALL FREE TO YOU….. So be sure to check it out and share it with others, so they are in the know, too!

What Causes EPI German Shepherds?

What Are The Signs Of EPI In Older German Shepherds?

  • Weight loss, which can be extreme

  • Excessive eating

  • Eating everything and anything

  • Inability to gain weight

  • Rumbling sounds coming from the digestive tract

  • Passing gas, which is often smelly

  • Frequent diarrhea

  • Light-colored stool

  • Fatty looking stool

  • Dull and sometimes greasy coat

How Is EPI Diagnosed in dogs?

How Is EPI Treated In Dogs:

Treatment includes diet changes to include:

Prognosis For Older German Shepherds With EPI:


Male Or Female Shollie

Now that you know all the above, should you opt for a male or female Shollie? The truth is, you wont go wrong with either one. As with most breeds, male Shollies are a little bigger than female Shollies, and theyre also a little more energetic and aggressive. Females mature a little quicker than males, as in all breeds.

If spayed or neutered as puppies, these differences will be really subtle. As a result, you wont encounter many gender-influenced traits as youve effectively eliminated them.

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Treatment Of Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency In Dogs

While there is no cure for this condition, there is help available to assist your pet to overcome this debilitating disease. Your veterinarian is your first port of call and he will assist you to treat your dog. Usually the treatment includes supplements of pancreatic enzymes that you can add to your dogs food. These targeted supplements can be in a powder form or come in capsules or tablets. The enzymes will start to assist your dog to break down the food he eats to get the much-needed nutrients.

Because of your dogs condition, your specialist may change the dietary components for your dog. The digestive system has been under a lot of stress, so replacing the high fat diet to an easy to assimilate diet will allow healing to occur. A low fat and low fibre diet will help your dog to digest the food and an antibiotic will control the bacteria that has been thriving in the gut. As the treatment takes effect, you will notice a change in your dogs behavior as he is now getting the nourishment he needs, and he will lose that almost desperate driven behavior to fill his dietary needs.

Worried about the cost of Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency treatment?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

Is There A Cure For Epi


There is no cure for EPI, but treatments can be quite effective in enabling EPI German Shepherds to live full and healthy life.

Please note when starting treatments that you must adjust dosages for each individual dog.

Once enzymes are at appropriate levels for your dog, you should expect smooth and predictable results of weight gain and the resolution of diarrhea.

Treatment for EPI usually involves a three-pronged attack.

Enzyme Supplements

The chance your dog will spontaneously recover from EPI is exceedingly low. Rare cases exist where a canid with pancreatic insufficiency secondary to acute pancreatitis eventually regained enzymatic function.

EPI often calls for a lifelong commitment to enzyme supplementation.

Your veterinarian will prescribe enzymes for your German Shepherd in the form of powder, tablets, or capsules. The powder is by far the most effective formulation.

If you subscribe to holistic or all-natural treatments, you can talk to your veterinarian about providing enzymes via fresh frozen pig pancreas.

According to, you can also use beef or lamb. A fresh-frozen pancreas complements raw diets especially well.

Cooking raw pancreas destroys enzymatic action, but uncooked meat can be susceptible to bacterial contamination.

Recommended amounts to feed your GSD are three to four ounces of the minced pancreas.

Whether the powder you use is prescription or over-the-counter, you will achieve the best results if you add warm water to activate the enzymes.

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Final Thoughts On The Border Collie German Shepherd Mix

Shollies, a Border Collie and German Shepherd mix, are a delightful breed any human would be lucky to own. The breed has inherited a lot of the traits that have made the world fall in love with both its parents.

Having read the above, you should have a clear view of what makes this breed special and how theyre a solid addition to any setting. With a playful and loyal nature coupled with unmatched energy and an eagerness to please, the Shollie will be by your side, whether playing or protecting you.

If youre the ideal person for them, go to your local rescue or breeder and try to bring the Shollie home hurry, though, you arent the only one swooning over these lovely critters.

I covered all of the costs associated with writing this post on the border collie german shepherd mix dog. However, it does contain affiliate links. That means if you click through on some of the links in this article and end up making a purchase I may receive a small commission. It wont affect the price that you pay. Just wanted to let you know.

Vitamin Deficiencies Or Folate Abnormalities

Vitamin B12 deficiencies, are common in dogs with EPI. Folate levels can be normal, high, or low.

In severe cases of EPI, dogs may become deficient in vitamin K, which can lead to bleeding. Your veterinarian will measure your dogs cobalamin, folate, and possibly some other vitamin levels to determine which supplements are necessary to return your dog to good health.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Epi

EPI can manifest anytime in a dogs life, from a young pup to an elderly dog, with the severity and symptoms of the disease varying from dog to dog. 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-pat, but sometimes greyish.
  • Eating their own stools , or other inappropriate substances.
  • Increased rumbling sounds from the abdomen.
  • Increased amounts of flatulence.
  • Some experience intermittent watery diarrhoea or vomiting.
  • Some dogs do not show any typical signs.
  • Some display a personality change.

It should be noted that your dog may not have all of these symptoms, for example not all dogs will display a voracious appetite.

Typical EPI stool – yellowish cow-pat Stool of a stabilised EPI dog

Border Collie German Shepherd Personality And Temperament

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency in Dogs

Personality and temperament are among the most critical factors to think of when considering getting a dog. Will they get along with the kids and the family? Will they gel well with the other pets already home? What about strangers? These are all questions you should ask yourself before bringing a pup home.

Both parents are loyal, intelligent, playful, strong, energetic, and loving, with the average Shollie also having these traits. The affectionate hybrid will go to great lengths to ensure its human are happy, so long as you play with them.

Shollies, like Borders and GSDs, are fond of children as they can match their energy levels and may even herd them. However, their playful nature means they arent too self-aware of their own size. This can put the kids at the risk of getting injured as the Shollie can easily overpower them during friendly play.

Thanks to the parents herding history and ability to work with other animals, you can rest assured theyll get along with other well-mannered pets. But as always, be sure to keep an eye on them for any behavioral issues.

Due to the German Shepherds aloof nature, Shollies may also display this aloofness toward strangers. However, they are rarely too shy or too aggressive towards people they dont know, so you can count on them for protection or friendliness.

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Correcting The Digestive Enzyme Deficiency

  • 1Seek and follow your vets treatment advice. To diagnose EPI, your vet will perform a blood test called the serum trypsin-like immunoreactivity test. If the test results indicate EPI, your vet will recommend adding a pancreatic enzyme supplement to your German Shepherds diet.XResearch source Enzyme supplementation is the treatment of choice for EPI and will give your German Shepherd the best chance of getting better.
  • Trypsin is a digestive enzyme produced by the pancreas. The TLI test measures trypsin and trypsinogen, the inactive form of trypsin that gets converted to trypsin. Low levels of each substance indicate EPI.XResearch source
  • 2Select a pancreatic enzyme powder supplement. Pancreatic enzyme supplements come in powder and tablet formulations. However, the concentration of pancreatic enzyme is higher in the powder than the tablets, making the powder the preferred choice.XResearch sourceRW Nelson, CG Couto. Small Animal Medicine, 3rd Edition. 2003. Page 563. Also, enzyme tablets do not get broken down consistently once they reach the stomach, so they may not give your German Shepherd enough enzyme to get better.XResearch source
  • Gel-coated capsules filled with the enzyme powder are also available, but they are not very effective.XResearch source
  • Viokase-V is the name of the powder enzyme supplement.XResearch source It is a prescription medication, so you will need to purchase it through your vet.

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