Fresh pancreas is key to dog’s survival

Sheri Hedberg and Oden, the Hedberg’s 2-year-old German shepherd. Although recent expensive treatments have stabilized Oden’s health, he’s still 40 pounds away from his optimal weight. Sequim Gazette photo by Mark Couhig


Sheri and Ross Hedberg are hoping local beef, lamb and pig farmers can lend a hand.

In August 2010, the Port Angeles couple’s 2-year-old German shepherd Oden was diagnosed with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. That means “basically, he’s starving to death,” Sheri said.

Oden weighs 70 pounds, about 40 pounds less than his father and 30 less than his mother.

While there is no cure for EPI, there is a treatment. “Lifetime enzyme replacement therapy” requires Oden to consume pancreatic enzymes with every meal for the rest of his life. Commercial enzymes are available but are very expensive — just shy of $200 for 8 ounces.

Oden can survive by consuming the packaged enzymes but thrives when fed raw organic beef, lamb or pig pancreas. That’s why the Hedbergs are asking for assistance.

Sheri noted the pancreases from these animals aren’t used for human consumption and therefore have little or no commercial value. Ordinarily they simply are discarded.

In recent weeks, the Hedbergs have been purchasing raw beef pancreas from a firm in California, and Oden is responding well. He’s “happy, beautiful and playful” again, Sheri said. Unfortunately the raw pancreas is extraordinarily expensive. With shipping, it costs almost $5 a pound.

Hedberg said fresh, raw pancreas retains its treatment efficacy for up to three months.

Christina Wagner, Oden’s veterinarian, also owned a dog diagnosed with EPI. She said in a healthy dog enzymes produced by the pancreas help digest fat in the diet. By eating fresh, raw pancreas, dogs suffering with EPI are able “to get the enzymes the preferred way — the natural way.”

For more on EPI, see

Those who can lend a hand are asked to call the Hedbergs at 425-941-4743 or e-mail Sheri at

Reach Mark Couhig at

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