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There are a lot of diseases and conditions that can cause diarrhea in your dog. Indigestion, stress or diseases that affect the intestinal tract can all be contributing factors. One of the most serious conditions that causes diarrhea is exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. EPI prevents the body of the dog from producing the necessary digestive enzymes to break down the food. It ends up inflaming the intestine. This leads to loose and pale colored stools couple with a ravenous appetite and weight loss. Moreover, since the food is not broken down properly in the gut, your dog cannot absorb the nutrients from his food and ends up starving to death.
Your vet will perform the necessary blood tests to evaluate the digestive enzyme level in your dog’s body. These tests, along with a detailed history of your dog’s weight loss, increased appetite and diarrhea can help definitively diagnose EPI.
Supplements and Treatment Options
Treatment for EPI includes dietary changes so that your dog can easily digest his food. For example, dogs that suffer from chronic diarrhea are usually placed on a high-fiber, low-fat diet to firm up their stools. Your vet might also recommend digestive enzyme supplements to fix the diarrhea. If supplements are the treatment course recommended by the vet, he/she might also recommend including a moderate amount of fat in the diet, assuming that the carbohydrates he is on are easily digestible.
If your dog is diagnosed with EPI, he will need supplements for the rest of his life. These enzymes are designed to break down the food so that your dog can absorb the nutrients. Other supplements that aid digestion and alleviate diarrhea include prebiotics, probiotics and enzymes that are derived from plants.
Dogs that suffer from this condition also run a big risk of developing a severe B12 deficiency since their bodies are not capable of absorbing the vitamin from the food that they eat. More than half the dogs that have EPI suffer from a B12 deficiency. Once your dog has a B12 deficiency, he will have a lot of trouble in maintaining or gaining weight, even if he is doing well on his enzyme replacement therapy.
So, if Fido is not showing any improvement in spite of the enzyme replacement therapy, you should check him for a B12 deficiency and determine if he needs any extra supplementation. The most effective way to administer B12 is by giving him an injection. Your vet will give regular B12 shots to your dog till the levels in his blood are high enough. Once the B12 level goes back to normal, all the secondary intestinal problems will go away on their own. So, if your dog is having unexplained bouts of diarrhea, take him to the vet immediately.