Milo had been sick for a few days, throwing up, but acting fine otherwise. He’s always had an insatiable appetite so the fact that he wanted to eat everything and anything wasn’t a red flag…he is a lab after all and they are known for eating the strangest of things.
I had just let him out and watched him go #2 (all pet parents watch or at least inspect their fur kids’ moon pies (or at least they should) to make sure things are going well, no worms other parasites, etc.). I was SHOCKED! Flabbergasted. What I was finding in the yard wasn’t throw up at all! It was stool…with whole, undigested kibbles. He wasn’t digesting his food.
Milo is the only dog in our home purchased from a breeder, my husband’s first dog and he insisted on a “purchase” rather than an “adoption.” I agreed but made it clear this was the ONLY time we would EVER purchase a dog… knowing what I know now, I know he ended up in our home for a reason. If he hadn’t, he’d be dead.
From the time Milo was a wittle, itty, bitty pup he has always had issues. Ear infections, yeast infections, issues keeping or maintain weight and the most concerning, seizures. They didn’t start until he was about a year old and in the beginning they were infrequent and undiagnosed. He’d have one every 6 months and he always recovered quickly. He had several, expensive blood panels to check his organs, blood cell counts, etc. and they always came back normal.
On several occasions it was suggested that we start him on epileptic meds, I refused. If he had been having them more frequently and his recovery time was longer with lasting effects I would have considered it but, that wasn’t the case.
Epileptic meds, while helpful to treat and prevent seizures, they are also very potent and can be very damaging to the body long term. They can drastically shorten a dog’s lifespan and would require constant monitoring via routine blood work every 3 to 6 months, depending. I wasn’t ready to go that route.
Over time the seizures did progress in seriousness and frequency but my gut still told me not to start him on epileptic meds. He had already been to several vets with no diagnosis other than Epilepsy (which in my opinion is diagnosed far too frequently without having exhausted all other possibilities) It was going to be up to me to figure this thing out.
I spent DAYS researching online. Reading every article, ever post having to do with seizures and dogs. We tried different foods, several different Chinese Herbs (with the guidance and supervision of a practicing veterinary) we even tried acupuncture and Reiki. Nothing changed and Milo looked like a Holocaust survivor.
On that faithful afternoon witnessing the waterfall of kibbles come out of his doupa, I knew I had my answer. Milo had EPI, Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency. It was exceedingly rare and 90% of the time was found in purebred German Shepherds. Milo would need a very, very expensive blood panel that would be sent to Texas for analysis. Most dogs who have this disorder die from starvation as it is not easily diagnosed and is not something most vets look for.
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency is the body’s inability to produce digestive enzymes for the breakdown of proteins, starches and fats in a dog’s body. Without these enzymes what’s eaten passes through the digestive system undigested and exists whole; no nutritional benefit is gained. Without treatment starvation occurs and death is imminent.
I contacted the holistic vet and filled the doctor in on my conclusion. He was doubtful of the accuracy of my diagnosis but agreed to fill a script for the enzymes I was requesting. They were not stocked by any veterinary office either locally or within an hour’s drive. I turned to the internet. The only place I could find them was in Idaho and I ordered a bottle and had them overnighted.
The next hurdle was going to be identifying and obtaining the correct enzymes. It's trial and error process but thankfully we were successful on the first attempt. Though he still eats puppy food he has not had another seizure since starting the enzymes and he is now at a healthy weight. It's been nearly a year.
I could not be more thankful that I stuck with my gut and did not start him on Epileptic meds.
This whole experience just reinforces my belief that as a pet owner you have be diligent in doing your own research and making sure the treatment is what YOU think is best for your dog. Just because a professional tells you what they thinks is the best course of treatment does not mean you should ignore your opinion or gut reactions. You know your pet better than they do.
PS- the $400 blood panel came back positive, I was 100% correct in my diagnosis.
With over 10 years of experience through ownership and rescue work, I hope to share my knowledge and insight to happier, healthier fur kids. Have a question, feel free to ask!