What are Digestive Enzyme Supplements?

It's the job of digestive enzymes to break down and absorb nutrients from your dog’s food. The pancreas produces a majority of enzymes, then releases them into the small intestine. Digestion occurs as the food is broken down into fuel and encourages necessary cellular functions.

There are four essential digestive enzymes with different functions:

  • Amylase breaks down and digests carbohydrates and starches
  • Cellulase breaks down fiber
  • Protease breaks down and digests protein into amino acids
  • Lipase breaks down fat into fatty acids and glycerol

Enzymes are the motivating force behind many important body functions aside from digestion, including immune function, waste and toxin removal, and hormone regulation.

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Digestive Enzyme Supplements Procedure in Dogs

So, what can you do to keep your dog healthy even if his digestive enzyme count is compromised? You can consider giving him digestive enzyme supplements. 

Digestive enzyme supplements may improve your canine’s digestive system and ability to absorb nutrients, both of which are crucial for his overall health.

Dietary enzyme supplements exist in three different forms: plant, fungal, or animal. 

Fungal supplements may cause significant difficulties for dogs with allergies, and plant-based supplements are not strong enough or naturally suited to a dog’s digestive system.

Animal-sourced enzyme supplements work better than other supplement options because dogs are carnivores who respond best to pancreatic enzymes. This type of supplement provides pancreatin and mimics the enzymes found in the gastrointestinal tract of natural prey.

Additionally, powdered supplements have been found to be much more effective than capsules and tablets.

The general rule of thumb for this type of supplement is one teaspoon of powdered digestive enzyme supplements per 10kg (22 lbs) of body weight. Make sure that your dog takes the supplements with a full meal. 

Always be sure to talk to your veterinarian about how much supplement is right for your dog, as depending on health and age, your dog may need more or less than the recommended amount.

Efficacy of Digestive Enzyme Supplements in Dogs

Although most dogs will benefit from a digestive enzyme supplement, not all dogs need them. If your dog is young, healthy, or eats a raw diet, he may not require supplements. 

Digestive enzyme supplements may be beneficial for dogs with certain medical conditions such as:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Weight loss
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Allergies
  • Liver disease
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI)
  • Flatulence
  • Dental diseases

Active, athletic dogs might need digestive enzymes for support for muscle strength and endurance.

Digestive Enzyme Supplements Recovery in Dogs

Supplementing your dog with digestive enzymes is not likely to produce side effects or conditions that require recovery time or special care.

Cost of Digestive Enzyme Supplements in Dogs

The cost of digestive enzyme supplementation will vary with the type and dosage of the supplement you choose, but may range from $10 to $40 per month. The cost of veterinary visits and lab tests used to evaluate your dog’s health may contribute to the overall cost of treatment, and will vary by location and the level of care involved.

Dog Digestive Enzyme Supplements Considerations

Digestive enzyme supplements are unlikely to produce side effects in dogs. There have been reports of dogs developing oral ulcerations and bleeding, but these instances are rare and moistening the supplement with food seems to prevent this side effect. 

Digestive Enzyme Supplements Prevention in Dogs

Digestive enzyme supplements can help improve your dog’s digestion, and thereby other critical functions within his body. 

Not all dogs need these supplements, although they are particularly useful for dogs on nutritionally deficient diets, dogs who are old, or dogs who are suffering from a particular medical problem involving or impacting digestive enzymes.

Ask your veterinarian whether digestive enzyme supplements are right for your dog.