But what if your dog is TOO hungry?
A ravenous appetite, particularly when combined with weight loss, can be just as important to note. Medical causes of increased appetite in dogs range from internal parasites to diabetes to bowel diseases.
If your dog is unusually hungry and yet keeps loosing weight, something is amiss.
Today we'll take a look at exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI).
Exocrine pancreatic insuffiency (EPI) is the inability to properly digest and therefore absorb food due to a lack of digestive enzymes made by the pancreas.
Meet the pancreas
The pancreas doesn’t get a lot of publicity . That is until it decides to stop running smoothly. Pancreatitis, diabetes … quite a trouble-maker.
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So what does the pancreas do when it works properly?
The pancreas is a glandular organ tucked in next to your dog's stomach and small intestine. It has two important functions endocrine (hormone producing) and exocrine (enzyme producing).
Endocrine pancreatic cells secrete hormones that regulate blood sugar (e.g., insulin and glucagon). The exocrine pancreas produces digestive enzymes that are released into the small intestine. Some of these enzymes are:
- amylase (digestion of carbohydrates)
- lipases (digestion of fats)
- trypsin and proteases (digestion of proteins)
When the pancreas fails to supply these enzymes, your dog cannot properly digest the food he eats.
That's why this condition is often referred to as maldigestion.
When food is not digested properly, it cannot be absorbed by the intestinal tract. So, regardless of the amount of food ingested, your dog's body doesn't get the nutrition that he needs.
Untreated or misdiagnosed dogs with EPI, may die a painful death either by starvation or organ failure.
The most common cause of EPI is pancreatic acinar atrophy, a fancy name for a shriveled up, dysfunctional pancreas. Genetics plays a role is some cases, particularly in the German Shepherd breed.
The most obvious symptoms of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency are:
- weight loss in spite of voracious appetite
- frequent soft, greasy, clay-colored stools
- coprophagy (eating of feces)
- dry, flaky skin
Your vet will need to run blood and/or fecal tests to determine if EPI is causing your dog’s symptoms.
Fortunately, many dogs with EPI that are fed a highly digestible diet and supplements containing the missing enzymes do very well, but treatment does have to continue for the rest of their lives.
The most important point is to pay attention to your dog’s symptoms.
It's your dog's health,
Weight Loss, Brittle Fur, Starving All The Time ... Beaner's Story (Part I)
Beaner Has Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency: Beaner's Story (Part II)
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (Maldigestion Disorder) in Dogs
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency at Veterinary Partner
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Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency Forum for dog owners