Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) is a particularly concerning digestive condition that leads to nutrient deficiencies, weight loss, and death if left untreated (Foster and Smith, 2012). EPI4dogs Foundation defines EPI as “the inability of the pancreas to secrete digestive enzymes: amylase to digest starches, lipases to digest fats, and proteases to digest protein. Without a steady supply of these enzymes to help break down and absorb nutrients, the body starves. When EPI is undiagnosed and left untreated, the entire body is deprived of the nutrients needed for growth, renewal, and maintenance. In time, the body becomes so compromised that the dog either starves to death or dies of organ failure. The Merck Veterinary Manual defines EPI as “a syndrome caused by insufficient synthesis and secretion of digestive enzymes by the exocrine portion of the pancreas”. “Lack of pancreatic digestive enzymes leads to maldigestion and malabsorption” (2011). This condition is certainly nothing to overlook. Many pet owners and veterinarians are unfamiliar with the detrimental condition and the purpose of this case study is to enhance the veterinarian’s and pet owner’s knowledge and awareness of EPI.
Like other canine medical conditions, EPI requires proper diagnosis and management. However, the condition is unique because it also requires a responsible and financially stable dog owner with patience and willingness to learn as much as he or she can about EPI and nutrition. Clinical signs can be misleading, as they are comparable to those of many other conditions. While diagnosis can be simplified when differentials get ruled out, medical bills can add up to an outrageously high expense. Overall management of EPI is best described as nutritionally variable, effective, expensive, and lifelong. The following case report outlines signs, diagnosis, dietary management, and financial aspects of a canine EPI patient. Its purpose is to emphasize requirements of the veterinarian and client in nutritional support for the condition, as well as to highlight the significance of financial requirements. As such, this case can be of interest to a broad readership of veterinary professionals, veterinary science students, and pet owners.
Ellie Engelen - Minnesota
V:50 I:4 Foot in Mouth Disease Honorable Mention
This past winter I finally found time to take a break from my finals studying to take holiday photos with my family. We took a quick photo and headed back to our house without thinking twice. While uploading the photos, we noticed that our pug, Pete, had managed to sneak into our photo....
Anna-Marie Ruoff - Western
V:50 I:4 Creative Corner Winner
BullFrog (Serenely surveying his pond [kingdom])
Van Gogh (Agalychnis callidryas, a red-eyed tree frog)
Diablo (Lives up to his name)