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How to Feed a Raw Fed Dog with EPI

DepositPhoto/Amaviael

Each month in my raw feeding group we share what we're feeding our dogs that week.  My friend mentioned pancreas which prompted a discussion on how much pancreas is safe to feed dogs.

  • CLICK HERE to read my first post about feeding beef pancreas to dogs.

This led me down the rabbit hole as I researched pancreas and I discovered a condition that may explain Rodrigo's GI issues and offered diet change that will help him.  But first things first, let's chat about the pancreas.

Benefit of Beef Pancreas for Dogs

The pancreas is a glandular organ in the digestive system and endocrine system of vertebrates. The pancreas is involved in blood sugar control and metabolism within the body, and also in the secretion of substances which help digestion. The pancreas plays a vital role in the digestive system (which captured my attention). It secretes a fluid that contains enzymes into the duodenum. These enzymes help to break down carbohydrates (usually starch), proteins and lipids (fats).

Source: Wikipedia

In my research on raw feeding, I saw pancreas listed as beneficial to dogs because…

  • it's part of a balanced raw food diet (pancreas is offal),
  • it can be used medicinally for dogs that have EPI (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency) or pancreatitis,
  • and it's great for digestion.

I ordered a few chubs of pancreas last summer to give to my dogs – they loved it – and I made one crucial mistake; I didn't look into serving amounts until after they had enjoyed a couple of meals of beef pancreas.  I also didn't ask myself if my dogs needed straight pancreas; I was just overjoyed to have found a new offal to feed to my dogs.

Feeding Pancreas Medicinally to Dogs

Please keep in mind that I'm not a veterinarian.  If you are looking to treat your dog through diet for EPI or pancreatitis, please work with a pro-raw, holistic veterinarian.

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) in Dogs

If a dog's pancreas isn't able to produce enough digestive enzymes to break down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, the dog may develop EPI, which…

  • impacts a dog's GI system,
  • disrupts absorption of nutrients,
  • may lead to weight loss and chronic diarrhea,
  • and will eventually lead to starvation.

As I was looking into this, I began to wonder if this is part of Rodrigo's health issues when I read these symptoms:

  • Continued weight loss despite always being hungry
  • Pooping more often than the other dogs; poop is larger, yellow or gray in color, and soft
  • Dog eats his own poop (coprophagia)
  • Increased gas and tummy noises
  • Occasional diarrhea and vomiting
  • Increased anxiety, fearful behavior

I know I shouldn't diagnose my dog through Dr. Google, however, this is EXACTLY what I'm experiencing with Rodrigo.  It's never come up before because EPI is usually seen in German Shepherds and veterinarians may miss this as a diagnosis.  There is a test for EPI that happens after 12 hours of fasting; the vet will test to see how much (many?) enzymes a dog is producing naturally.

While I became convinced that I had successfully diagnosed my dog, my veterinarian disagreed with Dr. Google.  Rodrigo doesn't have EPI; when you look more into this condition, it's clear that it's more serious than what I'm experiencing with Rodrigo.

Pancreatitis in Dogs

Pancreatitis develops when a dog's pancreas is inflamed and isn't working correctly.  It's seen in overweight dogs, older dogs, and dogs fed a high-fat diet.  None of my dogs are showing symptoms of pancreatitis, which, according to PetMD, include:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite (anorexia)
  • Weight loss (more common in cats)
  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue and sluggishness
  • Mild to severe abdominal pain (may become more severe after eating)
  • Depression
  • Increased heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing

Serving Amount of Pancreas for Dogs

As part of a raw diet, I've been told to go light on the amount of pancreas I add to my dogs' meals.  Too much can create problems rather than fix them.

I reached out to my raw food co-op group and was told the following:

Feed 2 ounces of raw beef pancreas for every 20lbs of body weight, two times per day.  Feeding more than 2 ounces twice daily isn't recommended.

  • Rodrigo weighs 60 pounds; he would get 6 ounces of raw pancreas twice daily.
  • Sydney weighs 75 pounds; she would get 7 ounces of raw pancreas twice daily.
  • Scout weighs 72 pounds; he would get 7 ounces of raw pancreas twice daily.
  • Zoey weighs 60 pounds; she would get 6 ounces of raw pancreas twice daily.

To maximize enzyme efficiency, we're advised to whip pancreas with a fork or wire whisk to a pudding-like consistency or liquefy in a blender and serve at room temperature.

It's important to remember that pancreas has a shelf life of only three months.

What I Feed to My Raw Fed Dogs Currently

When it comes to EPI and other digestive disorders, feeding a raw diet can be tricky for some and a life saver for others.  I recommend working with a holistic veterinarian who is experienced in raw feeding.

I've been ordering green tripe blends from GreenTripe.com and currently have a freezer full of the following:

  • Green beef tripe with trachea and gullet – I order this instead of plain green tripe for the trachea/gullet, which offers a boost to joint health for my dogs.  I feed it to my dogs two meals per week.  This isn't their only source of green tripe.
  • Green beef tripe organ blend with beef heart, lungs, liver, spleen and pancreas – I order this because it saves me time when mixing up organ meat into the raw food I made for my dogs while providing them with a wide variety of organs instead of just liver and kidneys, which was all I could source initially.  Our dogs eat this blend in their daily raw meals.
  • Green beef tripe with beef muscle meat, heart, tongue, trachea/gullet, and ground bone – I order this because it's a great food for active dogs, it helps to build muscle, bone, and stamina, and it's also great for older dogs when fed a couple of times a week.  Three of our dogs are active, and one of our dogs needs a little boost, and I think this recipe can help.  I feed this to my dogs two meals per week.

The dogs are getting pancreas in the organ blend and I doubt that it's the amount suggested as a daily serving (listed above).  I do know that my dogs aren't eating too much pancreas.  However, they're eating a truckload of green tripe because of the obvious benefits and to improve Rodrigo's gut health.

  • Green tripe is a natural source of fatty acids
  • Green tripe offers the perfect balance of calcium and phosphorus for dogs
  • Green tripe is full of digestive enzymes

Improving My Dog's Gut Health Through Diet

Although Rodrigo doesn't have EPI, his veterinarian did explain that the repeated rounds of antibiotics his first vet prescribed to treat the symptoms of environmental and food allergies nearly destroyed Rodrigo's gut lining which is why he isn't able to produce enzymes on his own.

I think that I've been doing a great job of treating his gut health by doing the following:

  • I feed my dog a species appropriate diet of raw dog food.  Raw is easier to digest than commercial kibble, has natural, living enzymes that help his gut, and is low in carbs.  This makes raw ideal for a dog with EPI.
  • My dog needs to have a pancreas supplement added to his food at least 5 days a week – this will be for the rest of his life.  He can pass on the supplement on the days when his meal is 100% green tripe (or the green tripe/trachea/gullet blend).
  • My dog will eat green tripe several times a week.  I order blends and mix green tripe into his raw meals to keep his diet balanced.
  • I clean the yard daily to stop the coprophagia and to have a check in on how his poop is doing.  I know he's having a good week when his poop is smaller than usual (it's always going to be bigger than my other dogs) and a normal brown color.  When his poop is yellowish or grayish in color, I up the digestive supplement and green tripe and make a note of any changes to diet.  For instance, this happened last when he had guinea hen, which is too close to chicken (which he can't eat).

The good news is that once I added the right pancreas supplement to his diet, the poop eating stopped immediately.  Turns out that green tripe wasn't enough for my dog.  In my reading, I haven't found any evidence that green tripe is better than pancreas for Rodrigo's condition.  Everywhere I've searched promotes either a supplement or raw pancreas.

During my research, I realized that I missed out on ordering fresh pancreas from GreenTripe.com, so I ordered a pancreas supplement.

Where to Order Pancreas for Dogs

If you live in the States, you can order green tripe from the following source:

I'm currently searching for more sources and will update this post as I find them.

Alternative to Raw Pancreas for Dogs

I ordered a supplement for Rodrigo called Bio Case Pro V, it's a powder made of porcine pancreas.  You mix the powder into your dog's food, allow it to germinate for 15-20 minutes, and then feed your dog.  This supplement provides enzymes to help your dog digest food and absorb nutrients.  On the third day after adding this supplement to Rodrigo's meals, he finally had a ‘raw fed dog' poop!  His poop was small (1/4 of the size of his normal poop), it didn't smell, and it was solid without the use of Olewo carrots.  Rodrigo doesn't have gas and his daily stomach gurgling has stopped.

I still plan to add raw pancreas to Rodrigo's diet; for now, Bio Case Pro V is my new best friend.  Bio Case Pro V is spendy and there is an alternative by Dr. Mercola that is a fraction of the price.  However, while I heard great reviews from other raw feeders, it didn't work for Rodrigo.

  • CLICK HERE to order Bio Case Pro V capsules (I saw improvement in 48 hours).
  • CLICK HERE to order Dr. Mercola Digestive Enzymes For Pets – Dietary Supplement For Cats & Dogs

Where to Order Green Tripe for Dogs

If you live in the States, you can order green tripe from the following sources:

There are more sources, but these are the three that I've fed to my dogs consistently over the past couple of years.  Raw Paws Pet Food and Darwin's Pets delivers to your door.

 

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