Symptoms of Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency in Dogs

Dogs that suffer from exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, also known as maldigestion disorder, are unable to digest food well because they miss certain enzymes. Keep in mind that not all types of maldigestion are related to the pancreas. The lack of digestive enzymes is explained by the progressive loss of pancreatic cells. One of the first consequences of this disease is the improper absorption of nutrients. Knowing the symptoms of this medical condition helps dog owners to report the problem to the veterinarian. The latter has to perform the diagnosis, in order to correlate the signs and symptoms with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, and to prescribe an efficient treatment.

Symptoms of Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency

The signs and symptoms of this canine health condition are not noticeable until 85 to 90 percent of the enzyme-secreting pancreatic cells are destroyed. However, when the symptoms become obvious, they include:

  • Coprophagia
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Flatulence
  • Increased appetite
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Poor hair coat
  • Undigested fat in the stool
  • Weight loss

The color and the consistency of the feces are also indicators of the maldigestion syndrome. Dogs suffering from this condition tend to have oily yellow-gray feces. Improper absorption of nutrients can also cause vitamin B12 and vitamin E deficiencies, which in turn may lead to additional symptoms.

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency Symptoms Explained

As the nutrients are no longer assimilated properly by the body, the sensation of saturation after eating disappears. This issue explains the increased appetite of the dog, and the fact that he is always hungry. The rapid weight loss is also explained by the inability to absorb the nutrients. If the dog does not get plenty of food, he will start eating his own feces, leading to a symptom that is named coprophagia.

Depending on the enzymes that your dog lacks, there may be various undigested substances in his stool. For example, if his pancreas is not able to secrete an enzyme called lipase, there will be undigested fat present in the feces of your dog. Amylase, on the other hand, is an enzyme that decomposes starches. Trypsin and chymotrypsin are enzymes used in the digestion of proteins.

Dogs with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency are also known to be fatigued and lethargic. This represents a direct consequence of the fact that the nutrients are not absorbed correctly. The dog will have low energy levels and his muscles will eventually begin to atrophy, revealing yet another symptom of this canine health condition.

The malabsorption of nutrients also influences the health of the hair coat. As a result, the hair coat of your dog may start to look greasy and it will progressively degrade. If you notice any of these signs and symptoms, you are highly recommended to contact a veterinarian, in order to make sure that your dog gets treated as soon as possible.

After the diagnosis, the veterinarian will prescribe a treatment that is effective in the majority of the cases, but it also is very expensive. Besides enzyme supplementation, the veterinarian may recommend supplements containing vitamins B12 and E, in order to treat the deficiencies caused by exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.