Digestive Enzymes for Dogs

A dark Labrador puppy in a field of grass

Digestive enzymes are one of the most important forces of energy in every living cell. D`Raye said, “Without enzymes, seeds would not sprout, fruit would not ripen, leaves would not change color, and you would not exist.” They are properties of all living cells that bring about changes in the body. According to Dr. Royal Lee they “…are the most important unit in the human body, because every chemical change that takes place to repair tissue or to assimilate food involves the activity of enzymes. Without enzyme activity, there is no life. No plant or animal can live without the activity of its enzymes.” They take part in many activities such as metabolism, energy production, detoxification, among others.

Enzymes come in two forms. Enzymes in the food eaten and the ones found in the digestive organs. The ones found in the digestive organs represent a bank that the body withdraws from. Thus, the need for enzymes from food.

The 4 Types of Digestive Enzymes That Are Beneficial For Canines

The basic digestive enzymes are:

  • Protease – Important in the break down (hydrolysis) of essential nutrients and digestion of proteins (proteolysis)
  • Amylase – Helpful in also breaking down essential nutrients and digestion of starch and carbohydrates (glycogen)
  • Lipase – Helpful in the breaking down of nutrients and the digestion of fats (lipids)
  • Cellulase – Essential for the breaking down of fiber (cellulose)
4 types of digestive enzymes for dogs
Digestive enzymes will ensure your dog gets the most nutritional value from their food.

These enzymes are produced by the pancreas, stomach, and salivary glands. Notice the separation between starch and carbohydrates; they are not the same.

The Things Harmful To Digestive Enzymes

Enzymes are fragile organisms. There are many things that can destroy them.  The following destroy the enzymes from food:

  • Herbicides
  • Additives
  • Flavor enhancers
  • Heat
  • Food preservatives
  • Artificial colorings

Many of these are in processed dog food.

The enzymes found in the body perish from:

  • Smoke
  • Excessive ultraviolet rays
  • Medications
  • Air pollutants

This makes it necessary to make sure you control the ones that you can.

The Benefits Of Digestive Enzymes For Dogs

Enzymes are essential for each metabolic reaction in the body of a dog. Functioning of the liver, wagging of the tail, digestion itself, name them.

Enzymes are life and without them, the body stops functioning. They are chemicals that break down the macronutrients so that the body can use them. These macronutrients are sugars, starches, fats, and proteins.

The benefits of enzymes for canines are many.  They include:

  • 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

There are two main types of enzymes in a dog’s system. Categorized according to their functions. These are digestive enzymes and metabolic enzymes. Metabolic enzymes help in carrying out the vital body functions. These functions are the building and the maintenance of cells, tissues and organs. While digestive enzymes work in the stomach and aid in the breaking down of food.

Why Canines Need Digestive Enzymes

Lack of enzymes in a dog`s system may cause indigestion. This may result in large `unprocessed` food to enter the bloodstream.  This happens from the large intestine. It could be lethal if it happens. In an attempt to survive, the body robs critical metabolic enzymes performing vital functions. Deprived of enzymes, the body suffers from a lack of enough blood cells.

The Anatomy Of The Canine Digestive System And Enzymes

The digestive system of a dog is not the same as of a human being. It is necessary to know how your dog’s digestive system works. This will help you know the type of food to feed your dog to get the most out of enzymes.

A dog`s digestion does not start at the mouth as in humans. At the mouth, it`s teeth work to tear off meat, bones and fat. The food is then passed through the digestive esophagus to the stomach.

In the stomach, the food turns into liquid by the hydrochloric acid. This goes from the small intestine to the large intestine. This is where the feces forms and egested.

This process takes about 8-9 hours. But what is most interesting is the pancreas. At the small intestine, amylase, protease and lipase mix with food. The pancreas secretes amylase that processes carbohydrates. But amylase cannot produce in the right quantities due to a diet that consists mostly of meat and bone. Thus, their bodies produce more protease to digest the high amounts of protein. This goes to show that most dogs are not well fed and do not receive the required enzyme content they need.

An ideal digestive process should have a rich blend of gastric acid, bile, and digestive enzymes.  This would help aid in digestion and absorption of nutrients.

The signs of a not getting these nutrients are countless:

  • Bad breath
  • Belching
  • Gas
  • Foul-smelling stool
  • Diarrhea
  • Undigested food in dog’s stool
  • Abdominal pains
  • Gurgling
  • Cramping
  • Acid reflux
  • Vomiting undigested food (4-5 hours after eating)

All these show that your dog is experiencing either indigestion or malabsorption. Most processed pet food is enzyme deficient. The food goes through super high levels of heat and pressure. They also contain added preservatives. All these kill the enzymes in the food given to the dog. This is characteristic of pet food in developed countries. Most dog food is either canned or made up of nutrient-dead, over-processed ingredients. The food actually does nothing to help in the already enzyme deficient condition.

Dogs should eat fresh food. Either raw meat or fresh vegetables.

50 years ago, Dr. Francis M. Pottenger, Jr., a Californian physician studied the effects of a cooked meat and pasteurized milk diet on over 900 cats. He discovered that diets that contain raw meat and raw milk was beneficial.  They produced good bone structure and density, successful reproduction, shiny fur, and optimal health. His 10-year study showed that raw food is better than processed food for the well-being of pets.  Not only will your dog survive, it will also thrive.

Enzyme Depletion Theory

All living organisms depend upon enzymes to function properly. Animals contain up to 2,500 different enzymes. These are responsible for catalyzing the many chemical reactions taking place in their bodies.

The enzyme depletion theory states as follows.

A change occurs when dogs go from an enzyme rich raw food diet to a high carbohydrate heat processed one.  The latter contains grains that are full of starch, cellulose, and carbohydrates.

Because of this, they start producing amylase in their saliva after just one week.  The pancreas also sees an increase of amylase production. The pancreas was not designed to produce more amylase.

Furthermore, the pancreas of a carnivore cannot secrete cellulase. Remember, cellulase breaks down cellulose to glucose.

This is not good for them as some commercial pet food proponents may argue.  The reason being is that this change in enzyme production is not a natural occurrence in dogs.

The increase of enzyme production leads to fewer enzymes for other metabolic functions in the body.

Continuous use of these enzymes leads to a depletion of them in the body.

Dogs today do not produce a lot of amylase because of their primary diet – meat. Their ancestors used to hunt their prey.  They would eat the animal’s digestive tract which contained enzymes.  As you know, today’s domesticated dogs no longer hunt for food.

An absolute depletion of enzymes is dangerous. Joseph Conrad said, “the joy of life depends on a sound stomach whereas bad digestion inclines one to skepticism, incredulity, breeds black fancies and thoughts of death.” Without enzymes in the body, the symptoms resulting from lack of enzymes follow and lead to death.

The enzyme depletion theory is also known to speed up aging since there are fewer enzymes.  Keep in mind, enzymes build and repair cells, tissue, and organs.

Many unwanted consequences follow due to the decline of enzyme production.

It is also worth mentioning that strenuous exercise, serious illness, old age and extreme weather contribute to more enzyme use.

All this is why it is important to make sure your dog has an adequate amount of enzymes.

What To Look For In A Dog’s Digestive Enzyme Supplement

As we discussed earlier, enzymes found in the body of your dog are not enough. This is because it is constantly used. And like a bank account that is always withdrawn from, it needs refilling.

Eating processed food does more harm than good.  The body puts a strain on the pancreas so it can produce enzymes meant for digestion. Metabolic functions such as cell, tissue and organ building and maintenance suffer.

The best solution is to feed your dog with food that is already rich in enzymes. Enzymes work best with vitamins and minerals. Not coincidentally, also found in food that contains large amounts of enzymes.

One of the best sources of enzymes is raw, green tripe. It is rich in enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. The other alternative is feeding your dog whole prey animals. This means including its digestive organs.

Most prey animals eat grass and other green substances that are rich in minerals and vitamins.

But even dogs that eat other animals do not receive the right amount of enzymes.  This is because dogs do not consume the entrails.  Some of which contain digestive enzymes.

Most dog owners do not have the time or budget to feed their dogs whole animals.  Some may not be willing to do so because it is unconventional.  We have become accustomed to buying our dog food off a shelf at the local supermarket.

Regardless, this is why it is important to supplement with digestive enzymes.

The benefits of supplementing your dog with digestive enzymes are countless.  They improve a dog’s:

  • Health
  • Joins
  • Skin
  • Teeth
  • Absorption of nutrients

You must ensure that your dog gets a constant supply of these.

Supplemental enzymes do a great deal of work. From tissue and cellular structure to unloading the burden of producing enzymes for the dog`s pancreas.  They do many things:

  • Maintain normal immune function
  • Clear away undigested proteins
  • Cleanse the lymph and blood
  • Clear cellular debris
  • Support healthy blood circulation
  • Support normal detoxification processes
  • Promote healthy immune responses

You should feed your dog the right dosage of a high-quality animal-based enzyme supplement.

Digestive enzymes can come in 3 forms; animal, plant and fungal. Animal based is preferable since the dog is a carnivore.  It will respond well to pancreatic enzymes.  It is the perfect mimic of their ancestral diet and it provides pancreatin.

Fungal and plant-based enzymes are not recommended.  This is due to the chances of your dog being allergic to them.

Let’s take a look at the best digestive enzymes for dogs.

Improve Your Dog’s Digestion

As you can see, digestive enzymes are important for a dog’s health. Today’s pet food found on shelves do not do much to support canine digestion. Supplementing digestive enzymes alongside dog probiotics can help to optimize your dog’s gut health. Give it a shot. You and your dog will be happy that you did.