Exokrine Pankreasinsuffizienz (EPI) beim Hund

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) in dogs

Basic information about the function of the pancreas

The pancreas, also known as the pancreas, plays a crucial role in the organism and fulfills two main functions: the endocrine and the exocrine function.

In the endocrine part of the pancreas, hormones such as insulin and glucagon are produced, which regulate blood sugar levels and are released directly into the blood.

In the exocrine part, however, digestive juices are produced that enable the absorption of nutrients from the intestine into the blood. These digestive juices contain enzymes such as lipase, amylase, trypsin, chymotrypsin and peptidases, which are significantly involved in the digestion of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. In addition, the pancreas produces salts (bicarbonate salts) that regulate pH in the digestive tract to ensure optimal enzyme activity.

Exocrine pancreatic function, EPI

What is Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)?

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) occurs when the secretion-producing cells of the pancreas are destroyed or damaged, resulting in impaired production of digestive enzymes. This lack of enzymes leads to inadequate digestion, especially of fats. Undigested fats enter the large intestine and interfere with the absorption of nutrients, vitamins, electrolytes and trace elements. This leads to diarrhea, bloating, and other digestive problems. As the disease progresses, the microbial digestion processes of carbohydrates and proteins in the large intestine are blocked. The reduced absorption of nutrients caused by the lack of digestion results in the dog not only losing weight, but also the frequent passing of large amounts of feces.

How do I recognize EPI in my dog?

Signs of EPI may initially include digestive upset, such as mushy or diarrhea-like stools, and possibly skin and coat problems. As the disease progresses, the dog loses weight despite a good appetite because a large portion of the food consumed is excreted undigested. The feces are often voluminous, clay-colored, greasy and foamy.

Diarrhea is common, accompanied by bloating and other digestive problems such as vomiting. The diagnosis of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is often made using a blood test that shows low TLI values ​​(trypsin-like immunoreactivity) in the blood serum (values ​​below 2.5 μg/l).

Pancreatic disorder in dogs

Causes of Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)

The causes of EPI can be feeding-independent or feeding-dependent.

Causes unrelated to feeding:

  1. Inheritance : EPI can be inherited, especially in certain breeds such as German Shepherds or short-haired collies. As an inherited disease, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency occurs in young dogs aged 1-4 years (symptoms usually begin between 6-18 months).

  2. Primary destruction of cells due to injury or cancer : This is rare and can lead to EPI.

  3. Consequence of infections or acute inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) : Infections or inflammation of the pancreas can damage digestive enzymes.

  4. Consequence of hormonal disorders or hormone therapies : Hormonal disorders, such as those that occur with thyroid problems, can affect pancreatic function. At the same time, this implies that excessive or long-term hormone therapies, such as cortisone or progestogens (to influence heat), have the potential to impair the function of the pancreas.

Feeding-related causes:

  1. Overfeeding and/or incorrect overall nutrient ratio : Too much food or an imbalance in nutrients, especially too much protein or fat, can overload the pancreas.

    The pancreas initially responds to increased nutrient intake by increasing the production of digestive enzymes. However, with persistent overnutrition or in conjunction with other contributing factors, fatigue atrophy can occur. The pancreas becomes exhausted due to excessive enzyme production and loses secretion-producing cells, which leads to reduced enzyme production, digestive problems and nutrient deficiencies.

    It is important to note that an incorrect feed composition, especially with a total protein content that is too high (from 30% for dry food, from 13% for wet food), can overload the pancreas. The administration of dog food with a high crude fat content (from 20% for dry food, from 8% for wet food) can not only put a lot of strain on the liver, but also damage the pancreas.

  2. Inferior and difficult-to-digest feed components : Poorly digestible or low-quality fats and proteins as well as poorly digestible fibers can put a strain on the pancreas. According to the Dietary Feed Act, the requirements for an EPI are strictly specified.

    Excerpt from REGULATION (EU) 2020/354 on "Feed for special nutritional purposes":

    Easily digestible nutrition:

    Obvious digestibility of

    —Feed with a low fiber content (crude fiber ≤ 44 g per kg of complete feed with a moisture content of 12%) (2)): Crude protein ≥ 85% Crude fat ≥ 90% or

    — fiber-reinforced feed (crude fiber > 44 g per kg of complete feed with a moisture content of 12% (2)): Crude protein ≥ 80% Crude fat ≥ 80%

  3. Hormonal dysfunction caused by synthetic additives : Chemical additives such as antioxidants, preservatives, flavors and colors can affect digestion and lead to EPI.

Medically prescribed intake of digestive enzymes

Treatment for EPI depends on the severity of the disease.

  • Mild EPI cases : For mild cases, special pancreatic diets can help without immediately using enzyme supplements. The premature use of enzymes can impair the body's production.

  • Moderate EPI cases : In these cases, digestive enzymes are added either directly to the food or a few hours beforehand to aid digestion. The amount of enzymes should be precisely dosed and adapted to the dog's health.

  • High-grade EPI cases : Severe cases may require lifelong administration of digestive enzymes, in higher doses and with every meal. The amount and frequency of enzymes should be closely monitored by the veterinarian.

Veterinary checks are crucial to monitor enzyme dosage and the dog's overall health.

Undesirable eating behavior (eating feces)

An important aspect of feeding dogs with EPI is the issue of undesirable eating behavior, particularly the ingestion of difficult-to-digest and stressful substances such as carcasses or feces.

Basically, the tendency to eat feces, especially herbivore excrement, has its origins in the dog's nature and should not always be viewed as pathological, although it is perceived as unpleasant. It takes significant training to teach dogs that engage in this behavior to behave differently. In addition to the innate tendency, there can also be health reasons why a dog eats more feces, such as hunger, digestive problems, hormonal changes, etc.

Eating feces can often be a sign of a disturbed intestinal flora. It can also occur if the dog experiences nausea or general malaise, for example due to acute metabolic overload. In such cases, the dog instinctively tries to rebalance its intestinal flora or alleviate its discomfort by ingesting feces or soil.

Since dogs with EPI already have a disturbed intestinal flora from the start, they have an increased tendency to ingest feces and other undesirable substances. However, due to their already compromised health, these dogs are more likely to develop moderate to severe symptoms. This leads to a vicious circle. It is therefore essential to stop dogs with EPI from ingesting feces and undesirable substances and to promote the recovery of the intestinal flora by adjusting their diet.

Special instructions for feeding dogs with EPI

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in dogs is a serious condition that may require lifelong treatment. However, with proper diagnosis and treatment, the dog's quality of life can be significantly improved.

The dog's diet should also be adjusted to favor easily digestible foods and high-quality proteins. You can find more information about special feeding here:


Hence BugBell

For many products we do not declare ourselves as diet food, although we very often comply with the requirements. This is also the case with feed for “exocrine pancreatic insufficiency”. Why don’t we do that? Quite simply and honestly: so that we don’t end up in even more of a niche than we already are. Nevertheless, we adhere to all the requirements in order to ensure an easily digestible product Nutrition to be able to be fed for life in the case of chronic pancreatic insufficiency.

All of our insect-based products are fiber-reinforced feeds with a crude fiber content of > 44 g per kg of complete feed with a moisture content of 12%. Digestibility of crude protein ≥ 80% & crude fat ≥ 80% are required here. The black soldier fly larvae adhere to these values ​​and are therefore easy to digest.

Our recommendation is to combine our complete food with the stomach and intestine biscuits. Our purple strain is specifically designed to strengthen the immune and digestive systems.

During our violet detoxification We use important ingredients for healthy intestinal flora and digestion such as pumpkin seeds, blueberries and psyllium husks, turmeric, pre- and probiotics and much more.