Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, sometimes called pancreatic acinar atrophy (PAA), pancreatic hypoplasia, malabsorbtion, or malassimilation, is a potentially life-threatening autoimmune disease which attacks the parts of the pancreas that produce digestive enzymes. Dogs with the disease typically exhibit loose “cow pie” stools and may lose weight to the point of emaciation despite a voracious appetite.
EPI can be mistaken for a number of other gastrointestinal diseases, including cobalamin malabsorbtion which can be secondary to EPI. There is a DNA test for hereditary (primary) cobalamin malabsorbtion which can be used to rule-out that disease. The only positive way to diagnose it is a cTLA (canine Trypsin-like Immunoreactivity) test. The disease can be managed with special diet and pancreatic enzyme supplement.
EPI is a type of autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are genetically predisposed; if a dog has the disease, it has the genes. Dogs affected with EPI should not be bred. Their near relatives should not be bred to mates with a family history of any autoimmune disease.