October 8, 2016 by The Dog Rules
In three days Drift had regressed to the horrible state of diarrhea, flatulence and tyrannosaurus breath that he had exhibited the day I brought him home. Consulting the poop chart let me see just how quickly things were reverting.
During those three tumultuous days I dug through every resource I could find on Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency in dogs. I kept returning to the information on the website epi4dogs.com. Of all the sites I found (there really aren’t that many out there) this had what I found to be the most helpful to people trying to help these dogs.
I can’t tell you how much I learned from this site. When you are accepted to foster an animal, it is a requirement that you follow whatever instructions you receive from either the shelter or the veterinarian(s) consulted by the shelter. I was about to go off the rails.
Waiting for new instructions to come wasn’t going to happen. I couldn’t stand helplessly by and wait for someone in authority to decide how to manage Drift’s issues. They weren’t with him every hour of the day. They didn’t get to observe him closely. I was prepared to try something on my own.
The first thing I needed to do was devise a delivery plan for the enzyme. The vets had been talking about perhaps getting the powdered enzyme put into capsules at a compounding pharmacy. My research said that putting the enzyme into capsules made it less effective so that you had to feed a larger dose. Getting the jar of enzymes and then getting it put into capsules was also another step that would make it difficult to get the next jar of enzymes. Drift was going through a jar in less than 2 weeks at the dose they had prescribed for him. This was getting overly complicated.
I came up with the idea of making meatballs using his pâté style wet food. If I could encapsulate the enzyme powder into several little meatballs and hand feed those to Drift he would scarf them down and the enzyme wouldn’t touch is mouth or esophagus. Then I could feed him the kibble portion of his meal.
The only difficulty with the meatball theory was the dose of enzyme. His diet was very precise in the amount of calories I was to be feeding him and I would have had to use a lot of wet food making the meatballs at each meal. The sheer volume of food at each meal was also going to be an issue. My research indicated that I could likely reduce the amount of enzyme. Drift was being given the maximum dose. It was the dose you would give a Mastiff. This got me thinking about the other information I had found regarding the feeding of EPI dogs. The amount of required enzyme varied with the size of the meal.
It was time to consult with an expert. I went for tea with a friend who works in the pet food industry. I asked her to be a sounding board for my ideas for Drift. Together we came up with a brilliant plan. I was going to leap right out there and do my own thing without slowly transitioning him to the new food like everyone says you ought to do. Drift was already experiencing digestive upsets.
I chose a locally made grain free kibble with higher protein content and higher calories per cup than the grain based kibble he was eating. This meant I would feed him less in volume and still meet the recommended calorie requirements for Drift. I reduced his enzyme dose to one teaspoon. This way I would make 8 little meatballs with the pâté style wet food. To ensure he didn’t have any residue of the enzyme in his mouth (if he actually bit a meatball in half) I planned to give him a bowl with a little homemade Kefir and a splash of milk. The Kefir would provide the probiotics he needed to manage his SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth) the other condition common to EPI.
Armed with “The Plan” I jumped right in. The poop chart would tell me if we were going in the right direction. I didn’t tell the vet or the shelter what I was doing. If my plan was successful and he showed progress, I would likely be forgiven – perhaps even applauded. If they discovered I had veered into uncharted waters before I had the opportunity to see if my theory would work for Drift I would likely never get to foster another animal.