What is EPI? Pancreas problems and canine digestion answers!

Was that another bout of ‘loose poop’?… . Does your dog seem to be having repeated bouts of intestinal upset?

Your dog may be eating processed food that is lacking in digestive enzymes: the high heat used in processing KILLS all the natural digestive enzymes.

Many dogs respond to a digestive enzyme supplement.

We now have a Digestive Enzyme Supplement that contains a proprietary Digestive Enzyme Blend and 2 Billion CFUs of beneficial Probiotics. These chews can help dogs with issues related to poor nutrient absorption.

You should see all the ways it can help your dog here:

Dr Jones’ COMPLETE Digestive Care Soft Chews 

Dr. Jones’ Complete Canine Calming Chews are Non-GMO and gluten free, and contain no wheat, corn, soy, or any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

EPI: The pancreas, pancreas problems and canine digestion: What is going on?

The pancreas has two vital functions:

1.Producing insulin, the hormone that moves sugar from the bloodstream into cells.

2.Producing digestive hormones, including lipase to break down fat, proteases to break down protein, and amylase to break down starch.

Pancreatitis: When the pancreas becomes inflamed, the condition is called pancreatitis. Pancreatitis commonly occurs in dogs. There is no age, sex, or breed predisposition. Pancreatitis may be acute or chronic.

Diabetes: When enough insulin-producing cells are damaged, dogs develop Type I diabetes.

EPI: When the cells that produce digestive hormones aren’t working, the result is EPI in dogs.

EPI stands for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. EPI in dogs is a health issue that has serious effects on the pancreas. It happens when most of the cells that produce digestive hormones don’t function normally.


Symptoms of EPI in Dogs

Without adequate digestive hormones, the food that a dog eats can’t be broken down and absorbed. As a result, dogs with EPI typically lose weight.

Your dog may also:

  • Have a ravenous appetite
  • Eat feces (coprophagia)
  • Eat other unusual things (pica)
  • Have soft stool or diarrhea that is pale, greasy, and/or especially smelly–this is due to the presence of undigested food within the intestinal tract
  • Have excess gas
  • Have flaky skin and a rough coat

May Affect Most With the Following Dog Breed:

  • German Shepherd dogs are most at risk, but it can affect ANY breed, but studies have shown that these breeds also have an increased incidence of EPI
  • Rough-Coated Collies
  • Chow Chows
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Cairn Terriers
  • Akitas
  • West Highland White Terriers
  • Cardigan Welsh Corgis
  • Border Collies
  • Australian Heelers
  • Australian Shepherds
  • Shetland Sheepdogs

Treatment involves supplementing with specific digestive enzymes: amylase/lipase/protease. Brands often used include veterinary specific ones such as Viokase etc. Probiotics are typically advised as well.


Pancreatic maldigestion

There is an alternative school of thought that more dogs (and people) can benefit from digestive enzymes supplementation.

If a dog consumed food in the wild like its ancestors, its diet would be loaded with beneficial enzymes. But today, most commercial dry or canned dog foods lack enzymes. It’s even possible that your dog is struggling with gastrointestinal problems as a result of a diet that lacks in enzymes.

Jean Hofve DVM agrees. In a 2013 paper about Digestive Enzymes she made the case for routine digestive enzyme supplementation for all pets.

“Digestive enzymes can be used for pancreatic and GI issues, but are also beneficial for healthy patients eating heat-processed pet foods."


Chronic Pancreatitis

When the pancreas becomes damaged, pancreatic enzymes are not produced, and malabsorption results. Malabsorption is the result of food that is not properly converted into usable energy by the digestive system.

Most alternative veterinarians are now suggesting the use of digestive enzymes for animals that have repeated bouts of intestinal distress and this is likely linked to chronic pancreatitis.


Some practitioners are now using digestive enzymes for diabetes. The lack of digestive enzymes can make it more difficult for your pet’s body to digest and absorb the carbohydrates in starchy foods. With treatment, digestion will become more effective and consistent, which will help to manage blood sugar levels.

Best Wishes,

Dr Andrew

P.S. I have been regularly giving Tula the digestive enzyme supplement, and she LOVES them! One big positive unexpected effect is that her chronic eye inflammation has cleared up.

P.P.S. About our ‘newish’ Digestive Enzyme Supplement… .

Dr. Jones’ Complete Digestive Care Soft Chews contain all-natural ingredients.

The active ingredients include an Enzyme Blend (Amylase, Protease, Lipase, Cellulase, Lactase, and Bromelain), and a Probiotic blend of 2 Billion CFUs of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus fermentum, and Lactococcus lactis. They can help dogs with issues related to poor nutrient absorption, and other pancreatic related conditions.

Try our NEW yummy and very beneficial soft chews here:

Dr Jones’ COMPLETE Digestive Care Soft Chews

Dr Andrew Jones’ ‘Veterinary Secrets’ Will Help Keep Your Pet Healthy, and Extend Your Pet’s Life

1 thought on “What is EPI? Pancreas problems and canine digestion answers!”

  1. Thank you so much for posting this article on all the possible pancreatic issues which can occur for dogs as well! This seems to answer all my questions & concerns regarding my little shih Tzu’s weight loss & continuous hunger symptoms (even while going on a hydrolyzed diet which his conventional vet recommended. It has been better than keeping the diet regular I suppose. As at least his weight is more stable.). Anyhow, I am going to try out your all natural complete digestive care chews. I just hope to have more luck when using your online site for purchases. For some reason – my prior attempts for purchasing a different product did not go through?!
    I will call if not. I’m so looking forward to getting past these digestive health issues (which he’s had for over a year now!).

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