My German Shepherd Rescue (GSR) was a healthy little girl, it was the spring of her second year when we noticed severe weight loss. We were on a road trip from Park City, UT to Santa Fe New Mexico and Colorado. We didn’t know anything about “exocrine pancreatic insufficiency” (EPI) at the time, so when we noticed that her poops were like cow patties, oily, and super smelly we decided to change her food to another even more expensive kibble. We honestly didn’t think we could get more expensive Kibble, but we found it… We try our best to take really good care of both of our GSR pups as they are our kids, always with us, even when we travel. By the time we got back home a week later Gertrude had lost enough weight for us to really worry, it didn’t matter how much we fed her, the only change was the size of her poops, still oily and smelly. We took her to our awesome local vet ,Kate @ Powder Paws, and after a few tests she determined Gertrude had EPI. Not knowing much about it we scoured the internet for more information so we could better help our little girl.
For those who know about EPI it is a constant trial and error. Once you find a food or pancreatic powder supplement or anything else that works and your dog becomes normalized and hopefully gaining weight, something changes and they start losing weight again. The poops are honestly the best way to determine how well they are taking in nutrients out of their food. Shape, color, hard vs soft, and smell… We immediately started on a Pancreatic Enzyme Powder from an online source which didn’t require a prescription, this worked better than straight up kibble. We tried others and finally for the last year and a half have been consistent on VEDCO PancreVed Powder. Just a scoop and a half, incubate under warm water for 20 min and voila! Gertrude’s food is ready.
So this was what we have been doing for a while since she was 1, she is now 4 years old. It’s not difficult and has been keeping Gertrude steady; not really gaining weight, but maintaining weight. Since the dogs are with me 24/7, as I can take them to work with me every day, I get people asking me constantly why Gertrude is so skinny. I obviously feed them because our other GSR, Loki, is just a bit chubby these days… It looks like he might be stealing her food, but Gertrude would never allow that she is way too feisty.
Gertrude has been maintaining weight, but still looked skinny and sometimes frail, which believe me she is not at all frail… In her head she is a tank. Launching herself off of the dock at the lake, completely submerging before popping up to go after her ball. She charges after her Frisbee in the snow, she bullies, like a little sister should, her much bigger brother Loki… She’s tough.
She had great muscle tone but still her ribs would show through and her backbone and hips were very pronounced. She also had wiry coarse fur with some dandruff. Still scarfing down her kibble with Pancreatic Powder and occasionally would get into her bucket of food ( she literally twisted off the top of the plastic Orange Home Depot bucket we keep their food in) or something else in the kitchen if we left her alone, which then would create a total mess because anything in her system without the powder would come out totally disgustingly smelly and messy.
Even though we were maintaining a base line status quo we knew we needed to do more for her. Raw food was definitely an option, but with all of the choices and frankly the cost we didn’t have a clue. A friend of mine here in Park City suggested I try a local brand called Raw Wild. Made from Wild Elk and Deer meat from the Rocky Mountains; we knew at least where it came from and was somewhat local. Our friends dogs were super healthy and happy and their coats/muscle tone, and energy was amazing. They didn’t have EPI however and so my curiosity got to me. Would Raw Wild make a difference in Gertrude’s health? She’s our little girl so we decided we needed to give it a shot! We first started Gertie on ¼ pound morning and night with Kibble and her powder, after a month we gradually got her to a full pound a day with some kibble and powder. Now two months into our Raw Wild experience we are astounded by Gertrude’s coat, soft and without dander. Although she is still our skinny little girl her muscles have grown she looks like a little tank instead of just acting like one. Her ribs still show as do her hip bones, but definitely not as much. She has even gained 5 pounds, all muscle… She does btw get a ton of exercise every day. Hikes and biking and running after Frisbees and balls, it is constant, she is relentless! Her brother is more of a daisy picker and likes to play with butterflies while in the outfield, so he remains chubby. With that said we have noticed such a profound change in Gertrude’s health, visually, we are starting to put Loki on a Raw Wild diet. He deserves it! We had two bigger GSR’s who passed away a few years ago. They were 14 and 15 years old and lived awesome healthy lives… We are shooting for 19 to 20 years for Gertrude and Loki. I think we can achieve it with the new diet we are choosing to feed them.
Btw, and if you are still reading this, our German Shepherds, Loki and Gertrude, are from an amazing GS Rescue out of Southern California; German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County
www.GSROC.com This organization saves vulnerable German Shepherds and place upwards of 500 GS a year to great homes throughout southern CA.