Digestive Enzymes for dogs

In the canine body, digestive enzymes play the same role as in the human body: they are catalysts that speed up certain chemical reactions essential to life. They also play a crucial role in nutrient absorption. Let's discuss what they are and when to give digestive enzymes to dogs.

Digestive enzymes are proteins that help break down food molecules into smaller pieces. Ultimately this promotes optimal digestion, helps with the development of new cells, supports the body's immune system and detoxifies tissues at a molecular level.

The 4 main types of digestive enzymes are

  1. Protease - plays a role in the hydrolysis of fundamental nutrients and the processing of protein (proteolysis)
  2. Amylase - assists in the digestion of starches and carbohydrates as well as the breakdown of vital nutrients (glycogen)
  3. Lipase - helpful in the process of digesting fats and breaking down nutrients (lipids)
  4. Cellulase - necessary for the breakdown of fibre (cellulose)

Digestive enzymes mainly come from your dog’s pancreas. However, many dogs will suffer from enzyme deficiency.

There are several reasons for enzyme deficiency:

  1. Synthesis of enzymes can slow down naturally with age, your dog may be a suitable candidate for some enzymatic support as it gets older.
  2. Vaccines, pharmaceutical drugs, 'dead' foods and fluoridated water can all lower your dog’s ability to make its own enzymes. And over time, this can cause an enzyme deficiency. 
  3. Canned and kibble foods are cooked at such high temperatures to denature the enzymes and essentially destroy any enzymes present.

How to tell if your dog could benefit from digestive enzymes?

Watch for these signs your dog may need some digestive enzyme support:

  • Burping and farting 
  • Regurgitating undigested food
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Smelly breath 
  • Acid reflux 
  • Tummy rumbling or gurgling
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Foul-smelling stools 
  • Undigested food in stool

Improving gut problems like gas, diarrhoea, and constipation are just some of the advantages of supplementing your dog's food with additional enzymes. This also results in improved vitamin and mineral absorption. Some dogs have reported fewer flare-ups of skin irritations and a decrease in the number of foods that they are sensitive to. It may even help minimize the amount of excessive shedding that occurs.