Digestive enzymes are important for your dog's good health and longevity. Digestive enzymes break down food so the body can utilize the nutrients more efficiently.
What are digestive enzymes?
Digestive enzymes are found naturally in food and are important for proper digestion and good health. When feeding your dog, you'll be looking at enzymes available in food and enzymes that are produced by the body.
Digestive enzymes help the body break food down to aid with digestion. When you eat, this digestive process begins as the saliva in your mouth comes in contact with the food you are eating. Your dog does not have the same enzymes in their saliva. Without that starting point, your dog relies entirely on the enzymes in their food and supplements. This is simpler to do with foods that are not cooked or heated.
How do digestive enzymes work?
The best place to find enzymes in food is in a natural, uncooked state. When your dog eats raw, uncooked foodstuffs, the digestive enzymes are released as the food is chewed. As your dog eats, the pancreas goes to work and secretes digestive enzymes to facilitate digestion.
Digestive enzymes are "specialists" and will only work on the food types they are meant to break down.
· Protease breaks down proteins into amino acids. · Amylase breaks carbohydrates into manageable sugars like sucrose, lactose and maltose. · Lipase breaks fats down into beneficial fatty acids.
· Cellulase breaks down vegetables and fibers making them more useful to your dog.
Digestive enzymes are found in foods that have not been heated over 118°Fahrenheit or higher as this destroys 100% of the natural digestive enzymes. When you feed your dog foods that have been heated, your dog's pancreas must produce all the digestive enzymes needed to process the food. This can cause undue stress on the digestive system and can create health concerns.
What problems can poor digestion cause?
Some concerns associated with poor digestion can include: · Bloating (Deep chested dogs are at greater risk.) · Diarrhea · Bad breath / "Doggie Breath" · Body Odor · Lethargy and Sluggishness · Compromised Immune System · Allergies · Arthritis · Skin Issues · Cancer
What are the benefits of good digestion?
As your dog eats and the food is broken down, the nutrients in that food becomes more available for the body to utilize. The faster breakdown of food means your dog's body is better able to use the food with less wear and tear on their bodies.
Some additional benefits for your dog when using digestive enzymes are a stronger immune system, less risk of degenerative disease, reduction or elimination of corprophagia (eating poop), an improved ability to fight cancer and better digestion can assist in weight management.
When should you use digestive enzymes for your dog?
Here are some situations where digestive enzymes could benefit your dog:
· When feeding cooked or processed food (Store bought foods.) · For dogs with digestive disorders (Gas, diarrhea, vomiting.) · Dogs under stress (Show dogs, anxious dogs, noise fears like thunder or fireworks.) · Senior citizen dogs. (Helps them get more out of the food they eat.) · Dogs on antibiotics or other medications. · Dogs with yeast infections. · Dogs with sluggish thyroid or Hypothyroidism. · To enhance your dog's nutrition.
Even your healthy dog can benefit from enzyme supplementation. Your dog will benefit from the increase in the natural ability to break down food into nutritious components. You'll notice less gas, firmer stools, less "doggie breath" and you'll see a healthier, shinier coat with fewer skin issues and you'll know you are helping your dog attain a healthier lifestyle.
Kathleen Riley-Daniels has been writing, editing and shooting photos since 1977, with work published in print and websites including articles and reviews in "Seattle PI," Yahoo!, Horse Country, Mother Nature Network and others. Riley-Daniels has degrees in equine science (College of St. Benedict), marketing and business administration (University of St. Thomas), and is a Master Naturalist (U of Minnesota).