Manchester-based pet bed specialists Scruffs® have held a heart-warming photo shoot with a Labrador named Pebbles, in an attempt to raise awareness of the condition EPI (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency).
EPI is an extremely rare condition which causes the pancreas to stop producing the digestive enzymes, meaning animals are unable to eat and digest regular food.
In a post on the company's Facebook page, Scruffs® said:
"Meet Pebbles, a beautiful, happy & care-free Labrador who we met last week, but with a rare and quite heart-breaking condition.
You wouldn’t notice anything out of the ordinary about Pebbles at first, but after spending 5 minutes chatting with owner Nicola, Pebbles’ troubling situation is all too clear to see. Pebbles was diagnosed with Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) at around 7 years old; EPI is an extremely rare condition which causes the pancreas to stop producing the digestive enzymes, meaning Pebbles is unable to eat and digest regular food.
The condition is so serious, that is has been known to cause severe malnutrition and vitamin deficiency. It can be even more serious upon diagnosis as, because its so rare and little understood, many vets advise owners to consider euthanasia – something that is not necessary as once diagnosed, it’s relatively straightforward to treat.
Since being a puppy, Pebbles has always been sensitive to food and has had allergies, but Nicola noticed something was drastically wrong when Pebbles lost almost 7KG in 3 weeks. EPI dogs typically produce large quantities of “cow pat diarrhoea” often yellow or grey in colour.
They are usually skinny, such that they look mistreated and they have enormous appetite, tending to steal food or eating substances that are not food.
After weeks of failed tests, speculation and stress, Nicola finally learned that Pebbles has EPI. Her vet had only seen the condition once before and had never diagnosed it himself.
Whilst the condition is very rare, the treatment is relatively simple. The enzymes that would be produced by the pancreas need to be added to the food before eating. The challenge comes with getting the dose right and dealing with the associated problems such as vitamin deficiency.
Since Pebbles’ diagnosis 5 years ago, Nicola has been relying on the support and advice from a network of pet owners around the globe, who are in a similar situation to herself and now shares her own experiences to help others.
Nicola is part of a US-based Facebook group, whose members offer constant support and advice on EPI and work together to find the best tactics to deal with EPI related problems. It was in this group where Nicola stumbled across our advert for dog models, and the first time we found out about Pebbles’ condition.
We are pleased to say that after receiving an outpouring of help from strangers around the world, Nicola is delighted that Pebbles is a healthy weight and stable in fact she sometimes has to go on a diet!
To find out more on EPI, please visit www.epi4dogs.com a site set up by an EPI dog owner and that has the backing of the American Veterinary Association.
Pebbles is somewhat of a miracle dog (well, we think so anyway!). Please comment 💕 to send your love to Pebbles & Nicola.
Thanks for reading.
The Scruffs Team"
Scruffs® is hoping that the post will encourage owners in similar situations to come forward and share their experiences and any advice on potential cures.
For more information and to see the image gallery from the day, please visit the Pets Love Scruffs Facebook page.