Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in dogs - Symptoms and treatment

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Disorders of the exocrine pancreas consist primarily of the loss of functional mass of the pancreas in exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, or by inflammation or pancreatitis. The clinical signs in cases of pancreatic insufficiency occur when there is a loss of at least 90% of the mass of the exocrine pancreas. This damage can be due to atrophy or chronic inflammation and results in a decrease in pancreatic enzymes in the intestine, which causes malabsorption and poor digestion of nutrients, specifically fats, proteins and carbohydrates.

Treatment consists of the administration of pancreatic enzymes that fulfill the function of those that a healthy pancreas would normally produce. Keep reading this AnimalWised article to learn all about the exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in dogs, your symptoms and treatment.

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  1. What is exocrine pancreatic insufficiency?
  2. Symptoms of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
  3. Causes of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in dogs
  4. Diagnosis of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
  5. Treatment of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency

What is exocrine pancreatic insufficiency?

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is called improper production and secretion of digestive enzymes in the exocrine pancreas, that is, the pancreas does not have the ability to secrete enzymes in their adequate quantity for digestion to take place correctly.

This leads to a malabsorption and poor assimilation of nutrients at the level of the intestine, causing an accumulation of carbohydrates and fats in it. From here, bacterial fermentation, hydroxylation of fatty acids and precipitation of bile acids can occur, which makes the medium more acidic and causes a bacteria overgrowth.

Symptoms of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency

Clinical signs occur when there has been a damage greater than 90% of the exocrine pancreatic tissue, and those most frequently found in cases of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in dogs are:

  • Bulky and frequent stools.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Flatulence.
  • Steatorrhea (fat in the stool).
  • More appetite (polyphagia) but weight loss.
  • Vomiting.
  • Bad hair appearance.
  • Coprophagia (ingestion of stool).

During palpation, the dilated bowel loops, rumbling.

Causes of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in dogs

The most common cause of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in dogs is chronic acinar atrophy, and second would be chronic pancreatitis. In the case of cats, the latter is more common. Other causes of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in dogs include pancreas tumors or outside of it that cause an obstruction in the pancreatic duct.

Genetic predisposition of the disease

This disease is hereditary in the following breeds of dogs:

  • German shepherd.
  • Long-haired border collie.

Instead, it is More frequently in:

  • Chow chow.
  • English setter.

The age at highest risk of suffering from it is between 1 and 3 years of age, while in English setters in particular it is at 5 months.

Diagnosis of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency

In the diagnosis, in addition to taking into account the symptoms of the dog, nonspecific or general tests and other more specific tests should be carried out..

General analysis

Within the general analyzes, the following will be carried out:

  • Blood tests and biochemistry: generally no significant alterations will appear, and if they appear they are mild anemia, cholesterol and low protein.
  • Stool examination: should be done serially and with fresh stools to detect the presence of fat, undigested starch granules and muscle fibers.

Specific tests

Specific tests include:

  • Measurement of serum immunoreactive trypsin (TLI): which measures trypsinogen and trypsin that enters the circulation directly from the pancreas. In this way, exocrine pancreatic tissue that is functional is indirectly evaluated. Specific tests are used for the canine species. Values ​​less than 2.5 ng / mL are diagnostic of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in dogs..
  • Fat absorption: it will be done by measuring lipemia (fat in the blood) before and for three hours after administering vegetable oil. If lipemia does not appear, the test is repeated but incubating the oil with pancreatic enzyme for up to one hour. If lipemia appears, it indicates poor digestion, and if not malabsorption.
  • Vitamin A absorption: it will be done by administering 200,000 IU of this vitamin and it is measured in the blood between 6 and 8 hours later. If there is an absorption less than three times the normal value of this vitamin indicates malabsorption or poor digestion.

Whenever this disease is suspected, measure vitamin B12 and folate. High folate and low vitamin B12 levels confirm an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine possibly related to this disease.

Treatment of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency

Treatment of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency consists of administration of digestive enzymes throughout the dog's life. These can come in powder, capsules, or tablets. However, once they improve, the dose can be lowered.

On some occasions, despite the administration of these enzymes, the absorption of fats is not carried out correctly due to the pH of the stomach that destroys them before acting. If this occurs, a stomach protector like omeprazole once a day.

If vitamin B12 is deficient, it must be adequately supplemented according to the dog's weight. Whereas in a dog of less than 10 kg it would need up to 400 mcg. If you weigh between 40 and 50 the dose will amount to 1200 mcg of vitamin B12.

Before, a low-fat, highly digestible and low-fiber diet was recommended, but today it is enough that it is a digestible diet. Low fat would only be recommended if the enzymes are not sufficient. Rice, as a source of easily digestible starch, is the cereal of choice in dogs with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.

This article is merely informative, at AnimalWised.com we do not have the power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the vet in the event that it presents any type of condition or discomfort.

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