Enzymes—specifically digestive enzymes—are necessary to maintain your dog’s physical health and wellbeing, and they are naturally found in raw foods. The problem is that the cooked, processed foods that are fed to dogs today are actually depleted in enzymes, thereby causing your dog’s body to work even harder to break down foods and derive the necessary nutrients from them. In addition, as your dog ages, his digestive system may no longer be able to break down the variety of foods that he eats as well as he used to. This could lead to malnutrition, as fewer nutrients are absorbed from the ingredients in his regular diet.
By supplementing your dog’s diet with enzymes, you can give his body the help that it needs so that you can rest easy knowing that he’s getting all of the nutrients necessary to stay active, healthy and happy. The question is which enzymes should you be adding to your dog’s diet, and why?
First Off, What are Digestive Enzymes?
Enzymes, which are found in each cell, can start or speed up a variety of chemical reactions throughout your dog’s body. They can help with everything from energy production and hormone function, to tissue repair and more. But digestive enzymes, in particular, are meant to help your dog’s digestive tract stay healthy.
The problem is that enzymes are highly sensitive and can be destroyed or inactivated by high amounts of heat generally used to produce commercial dog foods and other elements added to dog food, such as artificial ingredients and preservatives. While whole foods naturally contain their own enzymes, the body also produces enzymes to assist with digestion. However, when a dog’s food is cooked at high temperatures and processed into canned or dry meals, many of the naturally occurring food enzymes are destroyed, forcing your dog’s body to work too hard to extract the necessary nutrition from his food. Over time, this can tax the pancreas, which is responsible for secreting digestive enzymes.
Problems That Can Occur
When a dog’s body is not getting enough digestive enzymes from the diet, a variety of symptoms and problems can arise because nutrients are not being properly absorbed and the body can’t maintain a state of balance and wellness. Symptoms include diarrhea, bloating, gas, body odor, bad breath, sluggishness and lethargy. Other problems, such as skin issues, arthritis, allergies, a weakened immune system, premature aging, and even cancer may also occur as a result of malabsorption of nutrients due to poor digestive abilities.
Enzymes You Should Supplement
By adding the following enzymes to your dog’s food, you can provide him with the help he needs to fully digest his food and absorb all of the valuable nutrients within it.
- Lipase will help your dog digest any fats that he consumes, turning them into fatty acids and glycerol that are beneficial to the heart, brain and various other organs.
- Cellulase can be added to your dog’s food in order to help him break down fiber to maintain healthy digestion and elimination.
- Amylase is responsible for breaking down carbohydrates in the form of starches and polysaccharides. They are broken down into lactose, maltose, and sucrose for optimal absorption and energy.
- Protease works on breaking down proteins into amino acids. This gives your dog’s body the strength it needs to build and maintain muscle.
Dogs who are fed a diet that is cooked or otherwise processed, as well as those who are under a lot of stress, senior dogs, and dogs who are suffering with digestive disorders, can all benefit from the addition of digestive enzymes. Even dogs with systemic yeast infections, thyroid issues and weak immune systems can benefit from the addition of enzymes to the diet. As always, consult with your vet first to determine what your particular pooch needs.