If you have a dog with digestive issues, digestive enzymes may be the solution, however before you go down that route, it’s vital to understand what it all means. The health and wellness of your pet are of utmost importance and education is paramount.
What Are Digestive Enzymes?
Defined as molecules that assist the breakdown of the various foods we eat, these molecules are released in the mouth, stomach, and intestines at the chewing stage. These enzymes are made in the pancreas and released into the intestine after meals. All dogs need digestive enzymes to make sure the nutrients are available for absorption.
- Proteases to digest proteins
- Lipases for fats
- Amylases to digest carbohydrates.
A dog with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), is unable to produce enzymes and must get these enzymes from supplements. EPI often leads to a pet who is malnourished because the food it’s eating is undigested. If your dog is diagnosed with EPI, a digestive enzyme supplement will successfully treat the condition.
A healthy dog naturally makes digestive enzymes and can also absorb enzymes from additional food like raw fruits and vegetables. A dog on a raw food diet has more opportunities to gain these enzymes from its diet than one who eats kibble. Why?
Is It Getting Hot in Here?
Most of the ingredients in your dog’s kibble get heated and processed four times before they hit the bag. Processing and heating foods above 120 degrees Fahrenheit destroy nutrients and enzymes, therefore kibble is considered a dead food. This means your pet may not be getting the proper vitamins, minerals, and fiber they need. The kibble is left with proteins that have been denatured, enzymes that are rendered inactive, and any natural, beneficial microflora (good bacteria) are no longer viable.
If your dog has a stomach ache every once in a while, don’t run out to the pet store and grab digestive enzyme supplements and call it a day. Just like humans, dogs get stomach aches. As pet owners, we of course want to fix our dogs and release them from any pain. This is why digestive enzyme supplements can be very appealing to owners of pets with frequent signs of digestive distress.
Always work with your vet to ensure your dog’s getting the right supplements if needed, since there are several options.
Does Your Dog Lack Digestive Enzymes?
There are several symptoms your dog could be exhibiting that will tell you something is wrong. As pet owners, we always know.
- Is your dog burping and passing gas quite often?
- Have you noticed your dog’s underweight, yet you’re feeding it the right amount of food?
- Is your dog experiencing chronic diarrhea?
- Is there often a mucus-like substance in your dog’s stools?
- Are you constantly telling your dog not to eat other dog poop?
- Have you noticed a foul-smelling poop?
- Can you hear the tummy rumblings from your dog’s belly?
If you notice any of these signs, make an appointment with your veterinarian to discover what’s going on inside your dog’s body. The solution is out there but it needs to be the right solution.
There are both over-the-counter supplements and prescription supplements that could be derived from either plant, animal or microbial sources. Your vet will be able to guide you to get your dog back to a healthy status and be more comfortable.
Are Digestive Enzyme Supplements Necessary?
One school of thought is if your dog isn’t making enzymes on its own, either because of EPI or age AND not getting them from the food they eat, a supplement is a must to survive. That said, make sure you know what you’re giving your dog.
- What are the ingredients in these products?
- Where are they made?
- Are they able to be absorbed?
- Are there added chemicals?
- Are they specifically made for pets?
Another school of thought is the enzymes naturally occurring in food have more to do with why food spoils than being necessary for digestion, so “killing” them by cooking isn’t going to make any measurable difference for your pet.
According to the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, there’s no proof supplementing with additional enzymes has any benefits for digestion or overall health.
A health exam for your dog and a conversation with your vet will help you decide what school you want to attend.
Negative Effects of Enzymes:
Unlike drugs, dietary supplements do not require the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to review product effectiveness, safety, or quality prior to marketing. A bit of a frightening thought, hence, the reason you need to be careful when putting your dog on enzyme supplements. If your dog doesn’t need supplements, you may be causing it more harm than good.
Once you determine that your pet doesn’t need additional digestive enzymes, yet is still experiencing stomach issues, there are things you can do to help regulate digestion. Introducing fiber, probiotics, and vitamins can assist.
Benefits of Enzymes:
If your dog is a candidate for enzyme supplements, Draxe.com shares the numerous benefits:
- Promote respiratory well-being
- Reduce minor food sensitivities
- Support normal body weight without cravings or hunger
- Promote the safe movement of joints
- Aid in the absorption of minerals and vitamins from food
- Support the immune system
- Maintain appropriate cholesterol levels
- Reduces excessive shedding
- Lessen the occurrences of skin irritation
- Aid in removal of toxins from the body
- Support healthy teeth and gums
- Aid in normal cell growth
- Help reduce heartburn, constipation, bloating, and gas
If you and your vet decide your dog’s in need of digestive enzyme supplements, know what you’re adding to your dog’s daily intake. While there are numerous advantages, you want to ensure you’re not treating something that doesn’t exist. Providing digestive enzymes to a dog who is lacking them will save its life.
Always remember there are different opinions depending on who you talk to. At the end of the day, you want a happy dog who feels good because it will make you feel great.
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