Role of low dietary fat in the treatment of dogs with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency

Elias Westermarck From the Departments of Medicine (Westermarck, Wiberg) and Microbiology (Junttila), College of Veterinary Medicine, Helsinki, Finland.

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Juha T. Junttila From the Departments of Medicine (Westermarck, Wiberg) and Microbiology (Junttila), College of Veterinary Medicine, Helsinki, Finland.

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Maria E. Wiberg From the Departments of Medicine (Westermarck, Wiberg) and Microbiology (Junttila), College of Veterinary Medicine, Helsinki, Finland.

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SUMMARY

The main objective of the study reported here was to determine whether signs typical of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (epi) are alleviated when affected dogs are fed a diet with low fat content, compared with feeding ordinary commercial dog food or food prepared by the owner. The most cost-effective amount of enzyme supplement also was estimated. The study consisted of 6 test periods. Duration of the first and third periods was 4 weeks, and that of the others was 2 weeks. During the first 2 periods, the dogs were fed their original diet. The amount of enzyme supplement was reduced by half between the first and the second period. During the last 4 periods, the dogs were fed only the low-fat diet, and amount of the enzyme supplement was reduced stepwise. During the entire study, owners were asked to assess daily the severity of 9 signs typical of epi. A new index was established by adding the daily scores of each individual epi sign. This index was designated the epi index and was used as a measure of the general well-being of the dog. When the mean epi indexes of the original diet periods were compared with those of the corresponding low-fat diet periods, there were no statistically significant differences by use of Tukey's test or the paired t-test. There was considerable variability between dogs, however. The fat content of the original diet did not correlate with the difference in epi signs when the dogs were fed the low-fat diet. According to our study, feeding a low-fat diet to dogs with epi did not significantly alleviate clinical signs of the disease.

Decreasing the enzyme supplementation by 50% of the recommended dose did not significantly increase severity of the cumulative epi score. Decreasing the enzyme supplement by three-fourths of the recommended dose was excessive, and the severity of the clinical signs increased significantly (P < 0.05). The cost of the low-fat diet, compared with that of the original diet, was high.

SUMMARY

The main objective of the study reported here was to determine whether signs typical of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (epi) are alleviated when affected dogs are fed a diet with low fat content, compared with feeding ordinary commercial dog food or food prepared by the owner. The most cost-effective amount of enzyme supplement also was estimated. The study consisted of 6 test periods. Duration of the first and third periods was 4 weeks, and that of the others was 2 weeks. During the first 2 periods, the dogs were fed their original diet. The amount of enzyme supplement was reduced by half between the first and the second period. During the last 4 periods, the dogs were fed only the low-fat diet, and amount of the enzyme supplement was reduced stepwise. During the entire study, owners were asked to assess daily the severity of 9 signs typical of epi. A new index was established by adding the daily scores of each individual epi sign. This index was designated the epi index and was used as a measure of the general well-being of the dog. When the mean epi indexes of the original diet periods were compared with those of the corresponding low-fat diet periods, there were no statistically significant differences by use of Tukey's test or the paired t-test. There was considerable variability between dogs, however. The fat content of the original diet did not correlate with the difference in epi signs when the dogs were fed the low-fat diet. According to our study, feeding a low-fat diet to dogs with epi did not significantly alleviate clinical signs of the disease.

Decreasing the enzyme supplementation by 50% of the recommended dose did not significantly increase severity of the cumulative epi score. Decreasing the enzyme supplement by three-fourths of the recommended dose was excessive, and the severity of the clinical signs increased significantly (P < 0.05). The cost of the low-fat diet, compared with that of the original diet, was high.

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