Pancreatic Insufficiency in Pets
Pancreatic insufficiency is a chronic disease in animals that can certainly affect long-term health. This disease occurs when the immune system destroys the part of the pancreas involved with digestive enzyme production. In other cases, that part of the pancreas fails to develop adequately. In either case, digestive enzymes are not produced in adequate numbers leading to symptoms of chronic often fatty diarrhea, ravenous appetite and often severe weight loss. While pancreatic insufficiency can occur in all breeds, there are certain breeds, such as the German shepherd, where the disease is more common.
Any pet that presents with the above symptoms should have a full medical workup, including CBC/chemistry blood work, urine analysis, as well as stool checks for parasites. X-rays and ultrasound may also be indicated. This workup is important to rule out other causes of chronic diarrhea in pets. The definitive diagnosis of pancreatic insufficiency is done by a TLI blood test performed by your veterinarian. Treatment of pancreatic insufficiency includes a low-residue, easily absorbed, low fat diet, as well as the supplementation with digestive tract enzymes from products such as Pancrezyme. I also find that adding probiotics is helpful in long term management of this disease. Prognosis for control of the disease is excellent, as long as pets are maintained on special diets and supplemented with the appropriate digestive enzymes.