Pancreatic Insufficiency Dogs Nothing but the breed

Pancreatic Insufficiency Dogs - Pancreatic insufficiency in dogs is a disease, which is characterized by a decrease or an absence of pancreatic digestive enzymes in the animal. It’s referred to as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency or maldigestion syndrome. The proteins, starches and fats that they eat can’t be broken down into small enough bits to be absorbed through the intestinal wall. The undigested food passes out of the body in the feces. The affected dog will starve to death even if he is constantly eating. To see symptoms of insufficiency 90% of the pancreas must be destroyed.

The Causes

There are several likely causes of pancreatic insufficiency. One common cause is chronic pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas. In some young dogs, usually less than two years old, the pancreatic cells start decreasing in number and declining in function. The cause if unknown, but possibly may be inherited. Many breeds of dogs are affected, but it’s most commonly seen in large breeds, especially German Shepherds.


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The Diagnosis

No matter the cause, the symptoms of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency are usually obvious and fit into a distinct pattern. The disease may come on gradually over a long period of time or may progress rapidly over a just a week or two. The animal will show a rapid weight loss due to loss of body fat and muscle atrophy. His coat will have poor quality. Diarrhea is usually present and the stools will be light yellow or clay-colored and have the consistency of mashed potatoes. In some cases it will be watery. He will seem to be constantly hungry and will eat all he can at one time. Often he will eat abnormal things like dirt, plants, or he own feces, but pancreatic insufficiency is a rare cause of stool eating in dogs. His appearance and behavior will be of a dog starving to death because in reality he is.

In most cases, diagnosis can be made from the clinical signs and then can be proven by available tests. These tests include:

  • Measure the levels of certain digestive enzymes in the blood with serum trypsin-like immunoreactivity
  • Measure the level of chymotrypsin activity
  • Measure the levels of digestive enzymes in the stool or fecal proteolytic activity
  • Examine the stool under a microscope
  • CBC or complete blood count
  • Urinalysis to determine kidney function
  • Abdominal x-ray

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The Treatment

Treatment involves replacing the dog’s pancreatic enzymes with enzymes obtained from other sources. The products are made through an expensive process using freeze-dried and ground-up extracts of cattle or hog pancreases. The glands are harvested in meat packing plants and then processed for this purpose. They’re manufactured as either tablets or powder and sold under the trade names of Viokase or Pancrezyme. The tablets are given prior to a meal while the powder is generally mixed with food and allowed to set for 30 minutes before feeding. The response to therapy is immediate. The cost of treatment can run from $60 to $100 a month. In some instances raw pig pancreas can be used.

If the dog doesn’t respond well to the addition of the Viokase or Pancrezyme then the diet may sometimes need to be altered. A highly digestible diet is used and medium chain triglycerides may be added, as they don’t require being broken down by enzymes. Also multiple vitamins are given especially vitamin B12, and vitamins A, D, E and K.

Other products that state they contain natural enzymes shouldn’t be used, as they are only beneficial in healthy dogs. These enzyme products aren’t specific enough to pancreatic insufficiency to be of benefit.



Pancreatic Exocrine Insufficiency

The information on is not offered for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of any disease or disorder nor have any statements herein been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). We strongly encourage you to discuss topics of concern with your health care provider.

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