Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) is a serious condition that German Shepherds are very prone to getting. This article explores the symptoms, treatment, homemade diet for epi dogs, and the best dog food for epi German shepherd.
EPI is a condition that affects the working of the pancreas. The pancreas has an important exocrine function that is responsible for producing and excreting digestive enzymes.
It produces the enzyme Protease that digests protein, Lipase that digests fat, and Amylase that digests starches.
If the pancreas is unable to perform the exocrine function, the body of the dog is unable to break down and absorb nutrients. This can have dire effects like starvation, organ failure, and even death in cases where it is left untreated.
Dog Treats for German Shepherds with EPI
Can dogs with EPI have treats? Most treats are not suitable for dogs with EPI and their sensitive stomachs. You must consult with your vet before giving your dog any treats. You should not give EPI dogs treats until their condition has stabilized.
Most people make homemade treats for their EPI dogs. Common ingredients in these are sweet potatoes, carrots, and peanut butter.
Some brands are offering packaged EPI dog treats that we will list now.
Dechra EPI Treats Healthy Canine Snacks
The Dechra website describes them as a snack or treats to reward healthy dogs. They also claim these can be used as a dietary complement for dogs with skin sensitivities.
The treats are semi-soft. They are made of hydrolyzed (broken down) chicken liver and dried potato. It contains 11% protein 5% fat and 4% fiber.
These are available to buy online on sites like Amazon. The 8-ounce bag is on sale for $12.66.
- High amounts of protein and carbohydrates
- All-natural ingredients
- Resealable bag
- It contains sugar, might not be suitable for people that do not want their dogs to consume it.
- Higher price than other brands
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein Canine Dog Treats
The Royal Canin website states that these treats are made for the adult dog with food sensitivities. The treats also include Vitamin B and amino acids that support the skin barrier. They also help keep urinary disturbances at bay with Relative Supersaturation (RSS) methodology. Each 17-ounce packet contains 225 protein, 14% fat, and 2.6% fiber.
These are available online on sites like Amazon and Chewy, and even in local pet stores.
- Supports healthy skin and hair
- These have a very low amount of fiber, which is great for dogs that cannot handle much of it.
- Keep a healthy urinary environment
- Well priced
- Contains chicken which many dogs with sensitive stomachs may be allergic to
- Some reviews stated that their dogs would not eat these treats and were not interested in them at all!
Symptoms Of EPI
One of the first signs of EPI is diarrhea. You can spot the stools of a dog with EPI easily. They will have a greyish color and a very undesirable smell. If you detect this, get your vet to test your dog for EPI immediately.
Another sign of EPI is if your dog is always extremely hungry but still seems underweight and malnourished. A dog with EPI becomes lethargic and disinterested in activities.
Treatment For EPI
German shepherd pancreatic insufficiency treatment involves adding and supplementing enzymes that are not produced by their pancreas into their diet. There is no definitive cure for this condition, and treatment usually lasts throughout the dog's lifetime.
EPI is commonly treated by making the dog consume supplements of the enzymes the pancreas cannot produce. The most commonly used enzyme supplements are free-dried powdered porcine enzymes. There are also other bovine or plant-based enzymes available, but porcine enzymes tend to work well for most dogs.
Porcine enzymes usually come in capsule or powder form and are to be “incubated” into the dog's food. This means the powder has to be added to the food, moistened, and then sit for around half an hour to an hour before feeding.
German Shepherd Epi Diet
Diet for a dog with EPI is the most crucial factor to their wellbeing. EPI dogs require a highly digestible diet their entire lives. There are no set rules for EPI diets. It all can vary depending on the dog and their body.
Most dogs start with a prescription diet given by their veterinarian. Prescription diets are made of ingredients that have already been broken down so that they are easily absorbed by the small intestine.
The main rules one must keep in mind are to give meals with no more than 4% fiber and 12% fat and without unnecessary carbohydrates.
The dog must be fed several small meals throughout the day with enzyme supplements.
People who feed their Epi dogs do well with grain-less kibble as there will low amounts of fiber content. Go for higher quality kibble. Lower priced kibble is filled with cereal, which is hard to digest.
Some people also swear by complete raw diets while others claim their dogs could not stand it. There have although been several anecdotal stories and vet recommendations supporting it.
Homemade Diet For EPI Dogs
Some people have sound success with a homemade diet for epi dogs. Mixing homemade food with kibble also seems to work for many. Homemade food might consist of raw foods that are supposedly easier to digest. These meals can also be cooked.
Each homemade meal should consist of organ meat (5-10%), bone (less than 10%), cooked, and mashed vegetables (0-30%). The remaining should be proteins that are low in fat and had been ground or minced. Also include a healthy number of vitamins, minerals, and oils to their diet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here we will answer some common questions people have with respect to EPI in dogs.
What are some other symptoms of EPI?
Apart from the main ones, other symptoms include weight loss, frequent emission of gas, and coprophagia (eating their own feces)
Why do the enzymes need to be incubated?
If the food is not properly incubated for a certain amount of time, the caustic properties of the enzymes tend to cause mouth sores and bleeding.
Are there any associated conditions?
The most common is SIBO, which stands for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. It is when undigested food is attacked by bad bacteria. This can be reduced by giving the dog probiotics. Many dogs with EPI also have a vitamin B12 deficiency and will require supplemental injections.
Having a German Shepherd with EPI can be a roller coaster of a journey. Their diets and preferences constantly change. Once you think you’ve got a hold on it, their symptoms flare up again!
With constant care, attention, and only the best food for EPI dogs, you can help your beloved pet lead a happy, active life.