Dog Shit: Enzymatic Pancreatic Deficiency (EPI) and Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome

It was roughly three years ago that the not-Paleo, star of all Paleos, Petro “Peter…Hyperlipid” Dobromylskyj saved Rotor by talking sense to me. He both encouraged my own thinking on the condition in question, while gently expressing skepticism regarding the veterinary advice we were being given at the time, such as to feed Rotor lots of rice.

I sent him a nice hardcover coffee table book on evolution—with pictures—I thought he might like, as thanks. He did like it. In the aftermath of things working out, I asked him if I might blog about it and he gave me the OK. Thing is, I was worried he’d just get a flood of emails from people whose dogs or cats didn’t poop on schedule. You’d be surprised, judging form the emails I get.

I’m wondering if three years later, with evolutionary thinking and sanity being a little bit more common, exuberance a bit less, if people can refrain from that. …And, if they have a real problem and seek Peter’s help and he takes a bit of time for it, that they are absolutely certain to send him something he’ll enjoy, making him glad for it?

Can you promise me? OK, please don’t make yourself a disappointment. Here’s my email, just out to Peter.


Hi Peter:

Long time. I only get around to your place now & then, but loved your recent post about what you eat. After some time of experimenting and venturing out, I’m back to more of a semi-classical paleo with a bit of upped carbs including my own raw milk kefir, IF, not watching the scale, instead to focus on body composition more. Quality of life. Post on that, soon.

Anyway, Rat Terrier: Rotor. I hope to give you something to chew on. Not a plea for advice, such as three years ago. As you may recall back then, it turned out he was enzymatic, pancreatic insufficient. Since, he gets about a rounded 1/4 tsp of desiccated pig pancreas in each of two meals per day—relatively high protein, grain free food always, with a bit of various rabbit food derivatives they put in the stuff; plus beef or chicken stock I normally add. Since, as you told me back then, “I doubt Rotor has a rice deficiency,” he never gets any of that, by means of food that vets always seem to want to prescribe.

Prior to the event three years ago, I used to mix about 1-2K IU D3 and 1-2 mg K2 per can of the wet food (Evo) he and the Rat Terrier Nannuk “Nuke!” bitch would share over 2-3 days. His huge & sudden EPI crash had made me circumspect about conducting experiments on them, though the bitch is still super fine. Nonetheless, I limit experiments to myself, now. One interesting thing with Rotor initially, once the EPI was diagnosed, was that when his EPI-induced muscle atrophy subsided due supplemental enzymes and he began to gain back a bit of weight, he was like a spry puppy—at 11 years, able to easily leap up onto pretty high stuff. Totally full of life.

But a couple of years later, a year or so ago, big change again. He basically became almost blind, nearly deaf, in a very short time. His sense of smell, however, is top notch, if not enhanced. He never passes up a butt. It was curious, disappointing, sad, and reality all at once. Small dogs typically have pretty good longevity and it’s sobering to have put him to completely grain free long ago, high fat & protein, low carbohydrate for years, long walks every day (we’ve crossed the equivalent of the continental U.S. four times together in his years), and then to see him degrade faster and sooner than a crap-in-bag fed dog.

Facts are always facts, however.

I note also that Nuke is a salad supplementer. I call her “Nuke the Cow,” for her intermittent propensity to graze on grass & leaves in the face of an explicit “evolutionary diet” I provide. To me, this is observational science, too. She also IFs once or twice per week on her own, skipping the after-walk breakfast offered. More worrisome, she also displays unsociable cat behavior, to complicate matters. :) I often call or admonish her: “Nuke the Cat.” Makes her bark…same as if I shout “Kitty Cat,” or “Squirrel.” The upside is that she only wants to kill either, in cold blood and with attitude. I also call her “Wild Dog;” which is, I think, my most accurate general moniker. She’s mostly a joy to me because she’s some sort of hybrid between complete domestication like Rotor, and totally wild ass wild animal. So I also call her: “My Baby.”

Rotor never, ever passes up a meal, a treat, and our kitchen floor never needs mopping. It’s licked clean at all times. I’ve always intuited that the desiccated porcine pancreas is medication and does not substitute for natural enzymatic secretion and consequent hormonal secretion for satiation. I’ve noted that once Rotor has eaten, that about 30 minutes later, he finally seems sated.

So there’s all the background. Last week one night, I woke at 1:30am to the main bedroom light on. Beatrice was up.

“Something’s wrong with Rotor.”

He was alongside his bed, on the wood floor, laid out on his right side (the only side he will lay on). She got dressed, I picked him up, and he was nearly as limp as a dead dog, but for the twitching all over. Could not even hold his head up. It was just draped over my arm.

Off to a local 24-hr hospital that recently saved our neighbor’s dog after getting rolled under a car from front to back. The young DMV, after a cursory examination came out. “Old Dog Vestibular. Probably.” “We need to take some tests to rule out, but we see this all the time, virtually 100% get better. We’ll put him on a saline drip and you should be able to take him home in a couple of days.” After the first day they said we could take him home if we wanted.

I’m sure you’re thinking, Peter, ‘yep, that’s about right.’ In fact, in the 2 days he was there, this very impressive facility with their people busy constantly, 24/7, immaculate in every respect (humans should be so lucky), all the attendants said: “We see this a lot.” They all get better.”

We took him home a couple of days ago; fear, loathing, trepidation…because we know what happens if he doesn’t get better. But improvement is striking and I’ll get to the most striking part of the puzzle in a bit. He was already able to move his head around. Then, he could prop himself up on his front legs. His hindquarter is still paralyzed as I write this, almost like a cerebral palsy condition with knotted muscles (I did my time at the March of Dimes). But in the morning after he’s slept, the hindquarter is relaxed and his legs can bend. And, he can scoot around. I didn’t check up on him for about 15 minutes yesterday, and came back to find he had scooted around on the back porch, off of his bed onto the concrete, so as to pee down the slope without getting any on himself. There he was, just laying there with an enormous pee stream splayed out, down-gravity.

I felt pride.

The puzzle.

All of a sudden, just today, he can hear from both ears about equal (it was mainly his right ear all this time…he always moved his head to the left when his name was called). Whereas, his dark brown eyes were cloudy with grey, they are now totally clear; and whereas, we could walk within a few feet of him over the last year and he didn’t notice us unless we clapped or snapped a finger, he looks directly at us 30 feet away!

Just today. I’m amazed.

So, because this condition, though idiomatic (no money in figuring it out), involves ear & neurological stuff, of what value is speculation that whatever was causing his compromised hearing and sight over the last year was somehow cleared, causing this OD Vestibular condition as a downstream effect? We’re actually a bit guardedly giddy at this point, anticipating the possibility he’ll be New Rotor again after a year’s vacation. (Plus, this all made him a grouch. Beatrice often has him in the bed; her nickname for him being “LoveBug,” for years; but given his propensity to growl at slightest in-bed movement, I renamed him “GrouchBug.”)

As final note, I confounded it all. The day he came back from hospital, knowing the end game if he can’t remobilize, I added 2K IU D3 and 2mg K2 to his food without telling Beatrice (I told her a bit ago).

Either way, it seems to me a decent realm for reasoned speculation as to causes & effects.



So, there’s all about my last few days living the life of a human animal that keeps other animal slaves, for the sole purpose of making our lives not only more complicated, but wondrously, welcomingly pathetic.

Since Covid killed my Cabo San Lucas vacation-rental business in 2021, this is my day job. I can't do it without you. Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. Two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance this work I do, and if you like what I do, please chip in. No grandiose pitches.


  1. Kimberlie on June 15, 2013 at 19:42

    Did they put him on any meds like prednisone?

  2. […] The Animal / Posted on: June 15, 2013Free The Animal – It was roughly three ears ago that the not-Paleo, star of all Paleos, Petro […]

  3. Karen on June 16, 2013 at 00:38

    You are lucky you went to knowledgeable vets. Since I’m in the “dog world” (breeder; participate in conformation, field, obedience, rally), I have heard of vets telling owners there’s no hope & the dogs are put down. Makes me want to scream. I’ve had a couple of my oldies get this and recover with no treatment. Tara had a slight head tilt after her second episode, but that was it. Glad Rotor is getting better.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 16, 2013 at 06:43


      BTW, how long did it take your dogs to recover enough they could at least walk around the first time?

  4. Richard Nikoley on June 16, 2013 at 06:15


    I can see that. We fully expected we were taking him in for that. The various forums and comment threads on this condition are littered with people who euthanized their dogs that way.

  5. Carl on June 16, 2013 at 09:10

    I think Peter is the most brilliant (and certainly the most elegant) mind on the paleo scene (which as you point out is funny, since he goes his own way completely.) I’m quite confident he understands the biochemistry better than all of the “gurus” and possibly all of the MDs.

    I always thought it was odd he didn’t present at AHS every year, but he sounds extremely busy.

  6. Nigel Kinbrum on June 16, 2013 at 10:45

    “It was roughly three ears ago…”
    How many have you got through?

  7. Eddie Mitchell on June 16, 2013 at 14:37


    What a star you are ! a true legend in your own lunch time. Tell me, what can I do to be as popular as you ?


  8. Karen on June 17, 2013 at 18:12

    Richard: It’s been awhile since I’ve had this happen , but usually there is vast improvement in 3-4 days. Once the world stops spinning for them, they can start to get around. Since I have Goldens, we used a towel under the chest or belly for support. Logan had it around the age of 12-13 years and then lived to be almost 16. My Mom was living with me at the time and I had gone down to San Diego to attend a Billy Idol concert with friends. Got a call from her that Logan had collapsed in the backyard & couldn’t get up. So instead of staying the night, I had to drive home at 2am. As soon as I saw him – eyes spinning, disoriented – I knew it was vestibular disease. Got him on a blanket and dragged him in the house. I consulted with a couple of vet friends and didn’t bother taking him to the vet. He was up in a couple of days and had no lasting repercussions from it.

  9. Eric R. on June 17, 2013 at 21:01

    Shit man. Bigger things go on in the world, but not much feels worse than an ailing dog. Had this happen twice to my old pup, maybe six months apart. She recovered quickly both times with an adorable head tilt, but passed away soon after. Keep us posted.

  10. Richard Nikoley on June 17, 2013 at 22:36


    I know I don’t have to. It only that I love to want to. He’s coming along but his alertness is so heightened. We’ll see.

  11. George @ the High Fat Hep C Diet on June 19, 2013 at 20:02

    My dog was ailing; depressed, hair falling out, dark patches on skin, fearful, hunched and prematurely aged, mastistis, despite evolutionarily appropriate diet. Vet could only supply antibiotics and prednisone for some symptoms. Reading Peter’s blog on some abstruse point that vaguely related to thyroid function, he used symptoms of hypothyroidism in cats and dogs as an example. My dog had most of these symptoms and I found the rest in a google search. I got some kelp powder, fed it to her and she was perfect within a week. It was like watering a dying plant.
    So yeah, Peter, mad props.

  12. […] Here's the backstory, from 5 weeks ago with time flying: Dog Shit: Enzymatic Pancreatic Deficiency (EPI) and Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome. […]

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