Fielding D. O’Niell, DVM, MS
A three year-old female Catahoula Hound named "Sweet Pea" came in to our hospital for a second opinion (or rather, a 5th opinion). Sweet Pea had struggled her entire life with unexplained weight loss in the face of a ravenous appetite. She resembled the victim of a Nazi death camp. She was severely emaciated, dehydrated, could barely walk and was partially blind due to neurologic impairment.
Several previous veterinarians had run a battery of blood tests and prescribed a multitude of treatments, but her condition continued to deteriorate. After examining her and reviewing her medical records, I suggested the possibility of Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI).
The pancreas is actually two organs in one. Insulin is produced by the Endocrine Pancreas, but an equally important function is the production of digestive enzymes by the Exocrine Pancreas. Without these digestive enzymes, the patient devours everything in sight, but slowly starves to death. Treatment of EPI simply involves the addition of these digestive enzymes directly to the food, but Sweet Pea was so far gone that I really didn't think I could save her. Much like many of those rescued from the death camps, I feared help had arrived too late. However, Sweet Pea was a Catahoula!
The Catahoula Leopard Hound is the Louisiana state dog - a very tough breed. I also happen to be from Louisiana. I was bound and determined to save this kindred spirit. Somehow, by the grace of God, we were able to do just that. We started IV fluid therapy and Vitamin B12 injections, as well as, pancreatic enzyme supplementation. Slowly, Sweet Pea began to recover and went from less than 12 pounds to a fat and sassy 32 pounds! She has no residual neurological problems and has made a complete recovery.
Lassiez les bon temps roullet.