Maezi's EPI Journey

 ... the dog they thought could not get better.......

This is Maezi in Yoho Park, Canada, owned and very much loved by owner, Wanda.

"There was couple times in her journey when it was suggested to seriously consider putting her down but I just couldn't do it. Some family & friends didn't think she would make it & still some who question the cost of her care but they just don't understand she is the most loved cattle-dog on this continent & she's mine . Managing EPI is all about finding the right balance.... and yes it CAN be done! And this is our story..........."

I can finally say that I believe we have the right combo/balance for our most loved cattledog.

Maezi was dx july 25 – TLI> 0.6-- b12 > 127 weighed only 16.4 kg(36lbs.)

Enzymes -Vet put her on plant based enzymes at 1st with so so results until Aug 17 I went in & asked for porcine ones after advice from here. They worked but they were out of stock when I went to get more so was put on Cotazym(creon) until sept 17 porcine back in stock but Very pricy - Jan 7th got my first order of EnzymeDianes Pancreatic 8x for a huge savings & great results.


Food- She was on Puppy Chow & Beneful 4pups when dx so vet said to keep her on this--tried Acana grain free with poor results. After she was on porcine enzymes we tried 3 more grain free that she had allergy issues with. We are now on 1st mate chicken & blueberry grain free kibble (good 4 dogs w allergy & digestive issues). Nov. 20 we had started grinding it which really helped her poo quality. Also on dec 30 we started adding pumpkin to her diet with more improvement. Jan 20 we no longer grind food. She still can only eat 1 cup at a time mixed w ¾+bit 8x enzymes w ¼ c warm water sit for 45 min. –3 meals a day.


B12- initially vet had said her levels were fine - but apparently learned here that they need to be high normal range & supplemented to maintain.. Sadly her b12 issues were not addressed upon dx and it wasn’t until telling vet sept 16 when we started daily sublingual tablets. Nov 2 we had her re-tested to see how it was working and were happy to be at 739 after only 50 days :) still on daily tablets.


SIBO - OMG we don't like SIBO - Again it wasn't until I told vet about what I learned here that this issue was addressed for Maezi - Sept 12 we put her on 2 week trial of Tylosin with great results so continued for full 6 weeks. She became ill after stopping & had to be put back on for another 2 wks. only to slip again so was put on for 3 wks. and then another 2 wks. During this time we also used Probiotics – nov 12 a 2wk trial of florentero & dec 29 trial of daily 4strain probiotic capsules with ok results. Off tylon since Feb 17 & now on daily Florentero since Feb 18+rexall 4strain Probiotic capsule as needed.


To say its been a roller coaster ride would be an understatement when I look back on all she has been thru. So many ups & downs & setbacks & other issues complicating things.

Now today 8-1/2 months later it has finally become ‘routine’ –3 meals a day with a occasional ‘Mighty wolf” liver treats & moose marrow bone right after a meal to chew on for awhile.

She still has few “issues” when she eats something ‘stupid’ but with extra dose of probiotics she gets thru it.

She was at low of 16.4kg(36lb) and now is at 23.1(50.8lb) her goal weight is/was 23.0 kgs :D

  Maezi is a female  Australian cattle dog (blue Heeler) from BC Canada born may 11-2010


 Buddy's the dog with SID/SIBO but no EPI!

Primary SIBO – Journey to a Healthy Lifestyle

A Story of Our Golden Retriever, Buddy Chosen Friend

Horse, Horse, Zebra, Horse

Buddy presented with diarrhea from the moment we brought him home from a reputable breeder. He was treated for Giardia twice (no other indication of any abnormality). Our vet ordered a highly digestible, low fat, low residue food, but surprisingly to no real avail. We went through several more courses of Flagyl. All follow-up stool specs, along with a complete diarrhea panel were negative (horse). The breeder assured us that no other littermates exhibited these symptoms (horse). All the while negative tests were indicating “horse”, the mom inside of me was screaming, “ZEBRA!!” Because Buddy periodically responded to new probiotics (e.g. ProstoraMax), our vet wanted to take a wait and see attitude, assuring us that Buddy and would most likely grow out of his sensitive stomach by the time he reached 8-10 months of age. At 14 mos, Buddy blew his coat (mid-winter) and dropped to 69 pounds, during another siege of diarrhea. Back on FlagylL While searching the net, I happened upon Epi4dogs. This website was a God-send to me; it gave me a quick, but thorough education on doggy diarrhea (enough to write a thesis!). We discussed with our vet the possibility of Buddy having Epi (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency), a disorder that in the past was predominantly found in GSDs (German Shepherd dogs). Epi is always accompanied by SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), [now referred to as SID – small intestinal dysbiosis], leading to diarrhea. In addition, Buddy had blood drawn for B12 and folate levels, along with a complete blood count and full chemistry screen. Buddy tested negative for Epi, and the B12 / folate results were within normal range, but the vet was now convinced Buddy had SIBO. One of our trainers recommended the use of Tylan Powder (a low grade antibiotic that is used in farm animals and is specific to the gut). Tylan can be used in ARD (antibiotic responsive diarrhea) in dogs and does not have the neuro side effects sometimes seen in dogs being treated with long-term Flagyl. Our vet ordered the Tylan, along with VSL-3, a new (refrigerated) probiotic developed for humans with IBS. Buddy is currently being maintained with Tylan powder twice/day (6am and 6pm with his food). Buddy is also receiving two different probiotics: Probiotic Miracle at 12noon and one capsule of VSL-3 at 10pm.

This was the first part of the journey to help Buddy live a normal life.

The second part of the journey begins with:

  1. Maintenance & prevention,
  2. Careful observation & immediate intervention at the first sign of trouble.

The goal: to avoid a worsening of infection indicated by adverse physiological signs

(e.g. diarrhea, weight loss, abnormal respirations), along with signs of pain/discomfort.

1. Maintenance & prevention:

  • We use a low-fat, low residue diet. Buddy has been on Natural Balance LID (limited ingredient diet) Lamb & Brown Rice dry food for over a year now. He did not do well with chicken; therefore, this worked better than the IAMs veterinary formula. He was also allergic to the Natural Balance Fish (developed cough). NO TABLE SCRAPS. We use his dry food for treats during lessons, but we rarely treat at other times because it is better to give the digestive system a chance to empty between meals (less opportunity for bacteria to proliferate).
  • We try to keep outside areas clean, especially from other dogs/animals and changed our other dog to the same food as above, esp. to avoid any change in Buddy’s diet d/t coprophagia (eating poo).
  • Buddy is a hunter (moles, mice…); therefore, we use Sentinel Spectrum in order to prevent a recurrence of tapeworms and the need for heavier duty antibiotics.
  • We try to stick to a schedule (just like a baby) both for feeding times and “normal” daily activities. We also try to be aware of over-excitement from company. If he gets too excited or if he is “on duty” with strangers (e.g. servicemen) and not taking his usual afternoon nap, he may show signs of softer stool the following day. In winter, we limit playing in the snow to brief periods, reducing over-eating of snow.
  • One of the most useful hints is to soak the dry food for 10 to 15 minutes in warm water so it is more easily and more quickly digested, thus reducing the time it is in the portion of the gut where adverse bacteria multiply.

2. Careful observation & immediate intervention at the first sign of trouble:

  • First indications of impending problem:
    • Whorls become more noticeable (prominent parting of fur)
    • Lack of endurance
    • Increased “recovery time” after play (excessive panting 20-30 minutes)
    • Increased shedding
  • Additional symptoms to those listed above, requiring close observation and treatment:*
    • Increased thirst
    • Passage of very foul flatulence (could clear a room!)
    • Partly loose stool (firm ending with softer stool)
    • More aggressive play

*At this point, we use Endosorb, an, OTC (over-the-counter) medication that helps absorb toxins in the gut. For our 80 lb dog, we start with 2 tabs twice/day for 3-5 days, depending upon the stool, then we titrate down to 1 tab twice a day for 3 days, then 1 tab once a day for 2 days.

Always check with your vet before giving any medication.

  • Symptoms requiring the addition of Flagyl**
    • Large, frequent amounts of light-colored “pudding” (no form) and/or liquid diarrhea
    • Tenesmus (straining at end of a bowel movement)
    • Arching of back upon rising from sleep (due to pain)
    • Moaning upon laying down (due to pain)
    • “Prayer” position (folding his front paws underneath him)
    • Bloodshot eyes
    • Reduced salivation (noticed this difference in Pavlov from former dog)

**For Buddy, we begin with 500mg Flagyl twice/day for 3-5 days, depending upon the stool, then 250mg twice/day for 3 days, then 250mg once/day for 2 days (for a total of 7-10 days). Although we initially add the Endosorb, we stop it after 2-3 days once on Flagyl and the stool becomes firm again.

[There are reports of keeping dogs on long-term, low-dose Flagyl, but I prefer to use the Tylan that is specific to the gut and save the Flagyl for flare-ups. Dogs can live normal lives on Tylan and it is relatively inexpensive and has good expiration dating. Because Tylan powder has a bad taste, the best way to administer is to encapsulate it at home. It does not need to be refrigerated. You can make 200-500 capsules at a time and save in a cool place (we keep it next to the wine!).]

At 2 ½ years old, Buddy is now an, 85-pound, well-toned dog. He is also is a Canines4Christ Therapy Dog, exhibiting an extremely gentle disposition with patients. He is basically living a normal life; setbacks happen less frequently and less severely, as we stick to the above plan of prevention and treatment.

Side note: If you were wondering how he got his name, ‘Buddy Chosen Friend’. It came from a song about John 17, where Christ asks His Father to take care of His chosen friends. We didn’t choose Buddy, he chose us. We believe that God had a hand in Buddy choosing us, because Our Good Lord knew we would do our best to take care of Buddy and therefore enable him to bring God’s love to others through the C4C Therapy Dog program.

Hope's EPI Journey

Hope's story

This is Hope at 19 lbs

She was posted by Ft. Worth Animal shelter as an abused boxer that was extremely emaciated and was taken from her owners due to abuse. The owners claim she was 10 years old. Yes, she was a Boxer. I picked her up after seeing her pictures on February 24th and took her straight to the vet. She weighed in at 19 pounds!! She was a petite girl for a Boxer, but she should have weighed at least a good 40 pounds!! They kept her over night. Did an exam and found out that she had a skin tumor, she wasn't spayed and had heart worms. The vet sent her home with me the next day and said she just had to put on weight before we could try to treat her for anything. So I set out thinking she was just a starving dog. What did I know? The poor thing devoured anything and everything I set in front of her. Still, after a few days....no change in her weight. We kept trying. I even made Satin Balls to try to "fatten" her up. After about 10 days and no changes, I really noticed that she was "pooping" everything out as fast as it went into her. We took her back into the vet and they kept her overnight again to run some tests on her.

The tests came back positive for EPI. I unfortunately do not remember her numbers. They put her on enzymes, and I started to research everything I could about EPI. The vets just didn't have very much information on it. I found a help group for EPI and joined and sent out an urgent plea for advice and any help and encouraging words. Everyone was very helpful and this group had some of the best information compiled in one place about EPI.
Hope -- emaciated from EPI

I put her on a good EPI correct diet and gave her enzymes with each meal.

She was a happy girl. She had the classic "wiggle butt" that all Boxers tend to have. She was my shadow. She was MY girl. She loved me and I loved her. One of her favorite things to do was curl up on my back whenever I lay down on the couch to watch TV .

She also liked to play with our other female Boxer in the sprinklers. They had a great time together. My other female even taught her how to hunt down lizards in the flower beds next to the house. They were an awesome pair.

Hope became my dog after a visit to the vet's one day when they determined that she would not be adoptable. I talked to the vet and asked if she was in pain or suffering, if she could live out her life in a happy home. They agreed that as long as she was not in pain that she could have a somewhat "quality" life. For how long....no one would know. So...I took her home and "adopted" her. I was going to make sure she knew love and was happy for how ever many days she had left.

Hope started to not feel too well early August last year.  I had plans to take her to the vet. The night before she could hardly walk. I had to pick her up and take her outside to go potty and help her get drinks. I slept on the couch and she on her doggie bed right next to me on the floor. I got up several times during the night. One time she had made it over to the window to look out. I brought her back to her bed. When I woke up around 5:30 am to check on her....I found her almost by the back door. She was gone. It really broke my heart.

Thanks for wanting to use Hope's story in your website. Her life touched mine so deeply and if just seeing her shocking pictures can get the attention of people and make them aware of EPI, then her life was a very full one.

Jodi from Texas

Hondo's EPI Journey

Hondo before treatment  

In August 2004, I lost my best buddy, a GSD named Duke. Within 8 months I lost him, a cat, and 2 other dogs. I took it hard, especially Duke. After about 6 weeks or so of moping for Duke, my friends were worried about me. One friend dropped off a GSD pup she wanted me to “baby sit” for the day. Hint-hint. A neighbor took me to her friend who shows and breeds, thinking maybe I’d take one. My best friend, Connie, called one day. Her and her husband wanted to buy me one from the breeder in RI where she got hers and have it shipped to MI. By October I started talking with breeders and scheduled an appointment to see one on a Saturday. I got my husband to come with me. She brought out this little bundle of fur, so calm and gentle. Don picked it up and it got crazy. She held it again and it just settled down. I held it and he went crazy again. The breeder couldn’t believe in the change. She made a comment about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. We laughed. Then we spent some time there playing with him and a litter mate and left. Think he knew he was ours? We were about 1/2 way home when Don pulled into a store, said we were getting a crate and called her back and said we were coming back for him. I still wasn’t sure I was ready but Don said something had to help me out of this slump. So back we went. I cried all the way home, felt guilty. But it was the best thing he could have done.

Hondo after treatment

This pup was no calm pup. We named him Hondo. He was so full of mischief, kept me on my toes non - stop. Hondo ran me ragged. He ate the carpet, rugs, and got into everything. In the first year, 2 times I had to go for X- rays. Once it was a broken nose. He was just a non stop wild child. Grandkids called him a psycho dog. But Hondo was just so very loveable and enjoyed kids and other dogs too! He was very timid, though, around adults and outside of his home territory. At 5 months of age, I took him to obedience. He stayed behind or between my legs. Wanted to run with the other pups, but was too timid. Instructor suggested bringing him in for puppy classes, also. This made a world of difference in just a couple of weeks. Then I spent lots of time socializing him. I took him just about everywhere with me. Today, you wouldn’t know he was the same dog. He still gets excited over being able to play with other dogs and still loves kids.

In a span of a few months after I got him, he had roundworm, hookworm, tapeworm and Coccidiosis. No one could understand it. He was on heartworm meds and had been wormed. He was always having normal poops, then diarrhea, then mush. This went on for months. He had lots of fecal tests done. He also had been on metronidazole, Tylan, bland diets, and Science Diet ID.

Around October 2006, we picked up another pup (a sister for him). And then he got the diarrhea back really bad, the cow paddies, the mushy poop kind. We tried all the bland diets, metronidazole, and did fecal tests again. Nothing seemed to work for long. A few days good, then back at it. He was free fed. I was constantly filling up his food dish. The more he ate, the more he pooped. I think one morning we counted poops 4-5 times before 10:00 a.m. And these were not small piles, but big, stinky piles! I thought it was because we got Molly, his sister. The vet assured me it wasn’t. In January 2007 he tested positive for tapeworms again. And he started losing weight. He was never a big dog, always skinny, weighing between 76-77 lbs. Now he was around 71–73 pounds. End of January 2007 blood was drawn for a TLI test. Since I had been searching for causes, I knew what this was and was hoping it wasn’t. Beginning of February 2007, I had my answer. He had EPI. His TLI tests came back at 0.4, high folate and low cobalamin. He was then started on Viokase (enzymes). Not much was explained to me, I was doing lots of research on my own. By mid February I called the vet as he was having diarrhea again and asked about B-12 or antibiotics. His tests indicated he had the SIBO and low B-12. I was told no need to supplement with B vitamins or run a course of antibiotics, but instead to just increase pancreazyme. In May 2007, I mentioned all the “gas”. This time I was told to try decreasing the viokase. (He was on either/or enzymes). This went on all summer. He’d be fine, but then every couple weeks Hondo would have diarrhea, cow paddies, etc., and he was still losing weight. I was switching between regular food and bland diet constantly. In September 2007 he was down to 68 lbs. I was taking him to vet every couple weeks for weigh ins. I would weigh him, tell them he was on the bland diet again, and we’d leave. They never wrote it in his chart. Guess they thought I was a bored housewife who had nothing better to do but drive 20 miles to see he wasn‘t gaining.

Once during the summer he had a bleeding sore on his tongue. It went away. In September 2007 he got it back so I took him to the vet. It wasn’t just the tongue. It was on the palate and all. They thought it could be an immuno-disease or the enzymes. They then suggested I soak the enzyme with the food in water. Why didn’t they tell me that before? How much other damage had I done? Needless to say, we now soak. We were still having problems with soft stools every few weeks. Still letting the vet know and still searching online and B-12 and SIBO keep coming up. Vet still says to go back to bland diets.

In October 2007 I joined an EPI support group and called the vet asking for antibiotics again to try. She gave me 10 days metronidazole. Immediately I felt hopeful again. What I had thought all along, the support group concurred. I was going to give up and they gave me hope. I mean, why go on with the struggle when you are only going backwards? How does Hondo feel? Was I only keeping him alive for my sake? Was he one of the dogs that wouldn’t/couldn’t be helped? One thing that was verified, I had found a website for SIBO and it said minimum 30 days for antibiotics, some dogs long term.  Since he had tested positive for it in February and was never treated for it, 10 days 8 months later wasn’t going to help. So I did something I never did. Found a place online that sold Tylan without a prescription and ordered it. Hondo finished the 30 days with the Tylan. While on the Tylan, he did great.

Beginning of October 2007, I decided to go to the generic enzymes as it is 1/2 the cost and the expense was getting hard. The vet did not agree to it. But I decided to do it anyways. Hondo was now down to 67.5 lbs.

On October 30th  I scheduled Hondo’s yearly exam a couple weeks early, armed myself with papers on SIBO, B-12, etc., and decided I had to put my foot down. I was told she didn’t have time to argue with the internet. Why did I feel he needed the B-12 shots and Tylan. Finally we got it together, he had tested low B-12 and high folate for the SIBO, was never treated so we were just going backwards. She wouldn’t agree to do anything but would call TAMU for advice. I received a call later that day that we were going to start the B-12 shots, bring him in the next day and 30 days of Tylan if needed. Since he was just getting off of his 30 day behind her back treatment, I agreed. We started the shots and within 3 days of going off the Tylan, he had the dire rears back. So I got the 30 days Tylan from the vet. Immediately after the first B-12 injection, he started gaining some weight back. Within 2 weeks he was up to 70.6. But he still had gas. By the end of November 2007 he was back up to 72 lbs. Still not perfect poops, sometimes hard and other times mushy. So then she started saying it was the generic enzymes. Even though this had been going on for a year?

Then my husband suggested again of putting him down. I am not a quitter. I am a fighter. Someone else wrote about their experience of  changing vets about 3-4 times before finding one that would work for and with her. I felt that was directed straight at me, i.e. we had been going back and forth for so long and now my husband was giving up. So in the beginning of 2008, I made an appointment with a different vet for a second opinion. This vet gave him a thorough physical and said she felt his intestines were thickening and along with an X-ray suggested he may have IBD now. We had just switched foods, again, to a novel protein, carbohydrates, fish and sweet potato. She put him on a dose of prednisone for a month and metronidazole for 3 weeks. Midway through, we had a bad relapse. Throwing up, dire rears big time, down to 66 lbs. In February 2008 Hondo’s hind end was weak. I didn’t think he was going to make it. Switched to duck and potato and started to improve, then again, after a few weeks, started to get soft. That is when after a lot of searching and thinking, we decided to switch him to raw. The end of March is when we made the switch he took to it great. Stools immediately were in much smaller amts, only going 2 -3 times a day. It is a lot of work, since he has EPI, everything has to be ground in a grinder. Bones, meat, and veggies, it all has to be ground up. But if it will help him, we will do it. He is my guy, my sidekick, my buddy. My Mr. Hondo. Throughout all of this, he has been a trooper. You would never know he was sick.

Here is where we are at today. Still not perfect, formed hard stools, but not diarrhea, some formed, some not so formed. The gas has stopped as of a few weeks ago. Weight as of Thursday, May 15, 2008, is 74.8, yes! As he was weighed, the tears started falling. The receptionist had to hand me a Kleenex. I never thought he’d get that far, that fast, after our last “blowout”. Fur looks shiny, has lots of energy. We may never have perfect poops, but I will take what I can get now. We are doing B-12 shots monthly at home and Hondo is still on Tylan and has been since Oct. 2007. We have tried to go off the antibiotic, Tylan, a few times but within 3 days he has diarrhea again. If he keeps up like this, may try to go to a lower dose then off, but vet wants to wait until he has 30 days of good poop, so until that happens….Him and Molly are best buddies and if they can’t get me to play, they beat each other up. Molly gets all of Hondo’s leftovers and she doesn’t seem to mind a bit. Although, she does like the raw, which she gets every now and then.

I have been in contact with Hondo’s breeder and she doesn’t know much about EPI, but she knew enough to say she knows she can’t breed those two again. This is her first EPI dog. She also emailed me in February 2008 saying if Hondo doesn’t make it, we can go pick up another pup. I thanked her and told her I don’t want another one, I want Hondo. This is the biggest fight I have ever done, but we are going to do it. I still like my old vet and would recommend her for someone else. But my new vet is willing to work with me, not afraid to do research, will call TAMU if she has questions. Read what I brought in for her. She even made copies of some. Hondo hasn’t had to go back in awhile except for weigh-ins, but if I have a question I can call and she calls me back. She will talk to me for quite awhile if need be. That was the hardest call I ever had to make, to my old vet, to ask for my records. I had been with her for years, but in the end, I had to put my personal feelings aside and do what I thought best for Hondo. I know it won’t ever be easy for us. There have been lots of sleepless nights, many, many tears, lots of guilt feelings. It is such a frustrating disease. No two dogs are the same, nor can they be treated the same. I will always wonder, if he was treated for SIBO & B-12 right away, would we be where we are, or would he be stable. Could I have caught it sooner? Is it something I fed him? Was it bringing home Molly? Even though we will always be one of the “difficult” cases, we will persevere! July 19, 2008 we will celebrate his 4th birthday, something last year I didn’t think would happen. We are getting there.

This research is so important for these fur babies. We need to find the cause and to also educate vets more about this disease. Since not many vets see it, many do not know how to treat it. We need to get the word out! When fecal tests turn out negative, the first test done should be for EPI, SIBO, B-12, etc. Then do research on how to properly treat it. Ask questions. It would help a lot of doggies and save their owners a lot of heart ache.

Hondo’s mom, Karen (P.S. As of May 2009, Hondo is tipping the scales at a glorious 99.1 lbs!!!)

...for all those that visit this website... you have probably noticed that we have happily reported Hondo's steady weight increase since we first published his story...just want to let all those that read about Hondo.... that yes, there IS hope!


free web stats

Help spread the word about EPI !

AddThis Social Bookmark Button