The inspiration for the 2017 spring Limited Edition Heroes is a German Shepherd named Byrnn.  She suffers from allergies and EPI.  To help Brynn with her allergy to coconut, we handcrafted a coconut-free 100% natural dog shampoo her, which is available for sale in our store until June 1, 2017.  We are donating 5% of all profits from the sales of Brynn’s 100% natural shampoo bar to the Epi4Dogs Foundation. You can further contribute by making a donation to Epi4Dogs.

Prior to Brynn, I had never heard of EPI.  With Shepherds, we always hear about hips and elbows, but rarely do we hear about EPI. This is surprising, because according to Alexander J. German, BVSc(Hons), PhD over 60% of dogs diagnosed with EPI are German Shepherds and Shepherd mix breeds.  Other breeds that are prone to EPI are Rough-Coated Collies, Terrier breeds, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Chow Chows and English Setters.


EPI is also know as Exocrine Pancreatic Inefficiency.  This is a failure of the pancreas to produce three essential enzymes needed to digest food. These enzymes are:

Amylase: Digests starches.

Lipases: Digests fats.

Proteases: Digests protein.

When the dog’s body cannot digest food, it sits in the small intestine and basically rots. Unable to absorb nutrients to survive, the body to go into starvation mode. Eventually the body will start breaking down muscle, causing extreme weight loss. If left untreated the dog will die from starvation or organ failure.

According to statistics on Epi4Dogs, 82% of dogs with EPI often have a B12 deficiency and develop a secondary condition called Small IntestinalDysbiosis (SID). This happens when bad bacteria is fed by the fermenting food in the small intestine and over takes the surrounding tissue.



Symptoms can often go unnoticed for months or even years. Things to look out for are:

  • Weight loss despite an insatiable appetite.
  • Larger stool volumes of yellowish, greyish soft “cow patty” colour more frequently.
  • Dog eats their own stool.
  • Dog tries eating non food items items like plastic dishes, clothes, etc.
  • Rumbling sounds from the abdomen and or increased gas.
  • Intermittent watery diarrhea or vomiting.
  • Personality or demeanour changes.


Go see your vet and talk to them about what your options are. Common practice is to have the dog fast for 12 – 15 hours and run a blood test called trypsin-like immunoreactivity (TLI). This test measures the the dog’s ability to produce the enzymes to digest food (Amylase, Lipase, Protease). These test will return a range that will determine if the dog has EPI:

5.75–45.2: No treatment needed.

2.5 – 7.75: Treat or monitor.

2.5 or below: Treat.

Another common test to have done is to measure the levels of Cobalamin (B12). If B12 levels are too low, chances are the dog has SID.

These tests are approximately $125 USD.


Unfortunately, EPI is not curable, but it is treatable and managed through the use of enzymes, antibiotics, B12 supplements and diet changes. For more information and research, please visit EPI4DOGS.COM. They have a lot of great resources and a support form for people to seek advice.

If you want to further support EPI research, you can donate now.