Does your pet show signs of less-than-optimal digestive health, such as occasional abdominal discomfort and gas, occasional bad breath or vomiting?
How about less-than-optimal joint health? Minor food sensitivities? Lackluster energy and overall less-than-ideal health? You probably wouldn't suspect these issues to be connected with poor digestion, would you?
Many holistic veterinarians like me have discovered a solution that may help with all of these complaints and much more. In fact, this may be one of your greatest allies in helping to maintain your pet's total health.
What is this solution?
Enzymes may drastically improve your pet's digestion and absorption of nutrients, and as I suspect you'll soon discover, contribute considerably to your pet's well-being.
The "Magic" of Enzymes
One of the vital forces and energy of life, enzymes are tiny protein molecules found in every living cell.
They're responsible for countless activities and functions involving energy production, metabolism, detoxification, and so much more.
Just to convey how powerful these molecules are…
As you read this one sentence, millions of biological reactions requiring the actions of enzymes are occurring in your pet's body.
Here are some of the many benefits of enzymes:
- Supports the immune system
- Aids the absorption of vitamins and minerals from food
- Promotes normal body weight without hunger cravings
- Promotes respiratory health
- Helps reduce minor food sensitivities
- Helps promote normal cell growth
- Supports healthy teeth and gums
- Helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels that are already within the normal range
- Reduces occasional bloating, gas, heartburn, and constipation
- Lessens skin irritation and excessive shedding
- Provides more energy due to better utilization of nutrients
- Helps remove toxins from the body
- Promotes comfortable movement of joints
As you can see, enzymes function in so many wondrous ways beyond digestion.
Why Digestive Enzymes May Be So Beneficial to Your Pet's Well-Being
The two main types of enzymes most important to your pet's well-being are metabolic and digestive enzymes.
Metabolic enzymes function throughout your pet's body to help carry out the critical bodily functions of building and maintaining every cell, tissue, and organ.
Digestive enzymes work in the stomach and intestines to break down the food your pet eats.
The four basic digestive enzymes are:
- Protease – helps break down and digest protein
- Amylase – helps break down and digest carbohydrates and starches
- Lipase – helps break down and digest fat
- Cellulase – helps break down fiber
Your pet's body depends on enzymes in her digestive track to unlock vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients from the food so they can be absorbed.
What Happens When Your Pet Lacks Sufficient Digestive Enzymes
What happens if your pet doesn't have enough enzymes in his digestive tract?
First, his body robs critical metabolic enzymes from other important tasks, such as immune function, as digestion of food reigns as a high-priority, survival activity.
Second, a lack of digestive enzymes may result in incomplete digestion, allowing partially digested food particles to enter the bloodstream directly from the large intestine.
Less-than-optimal health may be at least partially due to your pet's body's response to undigested food particles circulating in the bloodstream.
Where Your Pet Gets the Enzymes She Needs
Where does your pet get the enzymes she needs for digestion and other metabolic functions?
From two sources:
- Your pet's diet
- Your pet's body
Just about every raw, fresh food – whether it is a plant or animal source – contains enzymes.
However, enzymes are fragile beings. Heat, pesticides, herbicides, food preservatives, additives, artificial colorings, and flavor enhancers easily destroy them.
In your pet's body, air pollutants, smoke, excessive UV rays from sunshine, and medications can deplete enzymes.
Free radicals produced during periods of increased activity and even normal cell activity also diminish your pet's enzymes.
If your pet consumes mostly processed or cooked food, she likely receives little or no enzymes from her food and must rely on her body to manufacture many or all of the enzymes she needs.
Your pet's pancreas produces protease, amylase, and lipase, but likely not enough to completely digest her food.
What We Can Learn from Pottenger's Cats
A half-century ago, Dr. Francis M. Pottenger, Jr., a California physician, studied the effects of cooked meat and pasteurized milk diet on over 900 cats.
During his ten year study, Dr. Pottenger discovered that diets containing raw milk and raw meat produced optimal health, good bone structure and density, shiny fur, and successful reproduction.
Changes noted with the groups of cats receiving cooked meat and pasteurized milk included:
- Less-than-optimal physical function and reproductive health, increasing with each generation
- Bone health was not optimal
- Adverse personality and behavioral changes
- Less-than-optimal thyroid function
To what factors did Dr. Pottenger attribute his results? The absence of naturally occurring enzymes in the cooked diets was certainly one important factor.
The Natural Process of Digestion in the Wild
To better understand the role enzymes play in your pet's digestion, let's take a look at what happens when your pet's ancestor – whether it be a wild dog on the prairie or a wild cat in the desert – eats a meal.
When he slaughters his prey, he receives small amounts of grasses, fruits, and vegetables from consuming some of his prey's digestive tract. However, by the time he consumes them, these foodstuffs are already partially digested, mixed with the prey's rich secretions of pancreatic enzymes.
Predigestion of any vegetable matter found in the prey's GI tract is an important part of carnivores being able to assimilate the vitamins and antioxidants found in these foods, unlocking their nutritional benefits and allowing them to be passed up the food chain.
The fresh raw muscle meat from his prey also contains the natural, live proteolytic enzymes needed for its digestion.
Further, when coyotes and wolves hunt prey in the wild, they devour organs rich with enzymes, such as the prey's pancreas, which provides supplemental, live digestive enzymes.
Because they receive sufficient enzymes from their prey for digestion, their own metabolic and digestive processes are not taxed. Their bodies are able to readily supply ample amounts of metabolic enzymes to carry out other important bodily functions.
Your Pet's Digestive System
For many reasons, most pet owners don't consider their pet's ancestral diet when deciding what to feed their pet.
However, you may be surprised to learn that, even after thousands of years of selective breeding, not much has changed with your pet's digestive system.
Dogs and cats are still carnivores with bodies designed to eat fresh, raw meat and bones.
And, thirty years of studies confirm that the natural diet of both cats and dogs doesn't contain grains or seeds unless they are pre-digested by small prey animals.
Just take a glimpse at your pet's teeth – the first step of her digestive process. You'll find she clearly lacks suitable tooth surfaces to grind grains so common in today's pet diets.
However, it's not just her teeth keeping her from naturally eating grains…
Her body isn't designed to digest them.
Meat-eating animals, such as cats and dogs, naturally produce more protease to handle their high protein requirements.
They don't naturally produce much amylase because their ancestral diet doesn't consist of grains nor does their body have a nutritional need for grains and starches.
Adding to a lack of appropriate enzymes, dogs' and cats' digestive tracts are shorter than humans' are and simply not designed to digest starchy foods effectively.
Here's the real issue… Consuming these foods on a regular basis can result in less-than-optimal metabolic function.
The Problem With Today's Pet Diets
As we've already seen, for a food to maintain its natural enzymes, it must be uncooked and unpasteurized, non-irradiated, and untreated with any source of heat.
To be frank, today's commercial pet foods lack healthy natural enzymes. In essence, the food is dead, over-processed and in-organic.
Production of both canned food and dried kibble require very high temperatures, which destroy any live enzymes present in the food.
If the manufacturer adds enzymes, they often break down when exposed to air, light, and the processing needed for the food's long shelf life.
Additionally, pet food processing can cause food nutrients to become chemically trapped, which can cause them to pass through your pet's digestive system unutilized. Enzymes are needed to help unlock these food nutrients and aid in digestion.
The Truth Behind the Enzyme Depletion Theory
Unlike humans, dogs, and cats in the wild do not produce enzymes in their saliva. However, studies reveal an interesting phenomenon when researchers switch dogs' diets from enzyme-rich raw food to a high carbohydrate, heat-processed diet. They begin to produce the enzyme amylase in their saliva within a week.
Commercial pet food proponents highlight this as a good thing. But is it really?
First, it's not a natural occurrence for the species.
Second, producing these extra enzymes may be robbing animals of precious enzymes for metabolic functions elsewhere in their bodies.
When fed grains, the pancreas must produce large amounts of amylase to deal with the starch, cellulose, and carbohydrates, which is something it's not designed to do.
What's more, a carnivore's pancreas does not secrete cellulase to split cellulose into glucose molecules. Dogs simply have not become efficient at digesting and utilizing grains or plant material as a source of high-quality protein.
Here's the problem with this ramped up need for extra enzymes: As your pet ages, the production of enzymes declines. And this can lead to unwanted consequences for your pet.
When Declining Natural Enzymes and an Enzyme-Deficient Diet Collide
Many holistic veterinarians recognize that a lack of enzymes – both digestive and systemic – may be a major factor in less-than-optimal health.
Think about it. If your pet's cells, tissues, and organs can't function without enzymes, then might a shortage have a negative effect on his body and speed up the aging process?
Feeding your pet supplemental enzymes may not only boost digestion but can also spark improved cellular function throughout his body. Supplemental enzymes can also help with tissue and cellular structure.
Most importantly, supplemental enzymes take the load off your pet's body to produce enzymes, unleashing a tremendous boost to his natural health.
Using Naturally Occurring Enzymes to Boost Your Pet's Digestion
The first step in providing your pet with the enzymes she needs for both digestion and metabolic functioning is to provide the foods appropriate for her species.
I recommended switching your pet over to a diet containing as much living, raw ingredients as possible.
Raw meat is an ideal food for your cat or dog, but I understand that some pet owners are hesitant to take that step. The next best thing you can do for your pet is to feed very finely chopped or pureed raw, enzyme-rich vegetables.
How you feed raw foods is very important. When handling raw foods, you must take extreme care to avoid contamination. And the variety of foods you include determine whether or not you're providing your pet with a well-balanced and healthy diet.
I recognize that this takes some special know-how. Many pet owners simply feel overwhelmed when starting to prepare homemade food for their pets.
That's why, together with Beth Taylor, we put together Dr. Becker's Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats.
Our book shows you how to prepare the freshest, most wholesome species-specific food for your pet.
- Contains easy-to-follow recipes and complete buying and preparation guidelines for providing your cat or dog with a safe, nutritional diet.
- Based on your pet's ancestral diet, every recipe meets NRC and AAFCO nutritional guidelines.
- Offers a rotational feeding plan complete with vegetables, fruits, and supplements, including digestive enzymes.
Preparing your own pet's food, not for you? Look for frozen raw, species-specific diets at your natural pet grocer. I believe it's a far superior option to any canned or kibble food, even if it isn't homemade.
Why Raw Food May Not Be Enough When it Comes to Enzymes
Raw food certainly supplies more digestive enzymes than processed (canned or kibbled) pet food, but don't be fooled, many animals consuming raw foods still benefit from enzymes.
All raw food diets attempt to mimic, as closely as possible, what our carnivorous companions would be eating in the wild.
Cats catch and kill mice, dogs eat rabbits and other small prey.
However, there are three parts of the whole prey model no manufacturer will add to their commercially available raw foods: fur (fiber), guts, and glands.
Why? Frankly, it's gross. And there are risks.
Entrails – the stomach and intestines – are where parasites are found. To keep raw food diets parasite-free manufacturers wisely elect to not include entrails.
The pancreas and other small glands are also not included because ensuring a steady source of supply is difficult. This means even animals eating a raw food diet can lack these beneficial substances.
Your Pet's Best Insurance for Protecting Her Fragile Enzyme Bank
Whether you feed your pet a healthy homemade or frozen species-specific diet, a canned or a dried kibble diet, she will likely benefit greatly from supplemental enzymes.
Supplementing with enzymes helps ensure she can completely digest her food without dipping into that fragile bank of metabolic enzymes.
When you feed your pet enzymes with her meals, they aid in digestion. When you feed the exact same enzymes at other times, they work systemically for metabolic purposes.
When used this way, after meals, the enzymes circulate throughout her body via the bloodstream, helping to:
- Support the healthy circulation of blood through arteries
- Maintaining normal immune function
- Clear cellular debris while cleansing tissue
- Stimulate healthy new cell growth
- Promote normal cell growth
- Promote a healthy immune response
- Support normal detoxification processes
- Clear away undigested proteins, cleansing the lymph and blood
Using enzymes for total body systemic use is not new. Many holistic veterinarians have been employing this secret arsenal for years.
Here's what I advise my patients' owners for the systemic use of enzymes:
Feed the recommended dosage (not more) of a high-quality animal-based enzyme on a morsel of food one or two hours after meals. Giving enzymes in between meals ensures the enzymes won't be utilized for digestive purposes.
What to Look For in a Good Digestive Enzyme for Your Pet
You have three choices when it comes to choosing a supplemental enzyme for your pet. Enzymes can come from three different sources: plant, animal, or fungal.
Over the years in my practice, I have worked with all three types and have seen the effects, both positive and negative, of each. Consequently, I have some strong opinions of what I believe works best for most cats and dogs.
I prefer animal-sourced enzymes, by far, for the following reasons:
- Most closely mimics what you find in the ancestral animal's prey's GI tract
- Provides pancreatin, replacing some of the pancreas of prey
- Because your pet is a carnivore, they respond best to pancreatic enzymes
Enzymes from fungal sources can be especially problematic for many pets. I've seen huge problems with fungal enzymes, especially with pets who suffer from allergies.
Based on my experience, I don't find plant-based enzymes to be powerful enough for cats and dogs. In my opinion, for carnivorous pets, plant or vegetarian enzymes aren't as efficient for digestive purposes as are animal-sourced enzymes. I recommend vegetarian enzymes for vegetarian pets (rabbits) and animal-sourced enzymes for carnivorous pets.
Because animal-based enzymes are more biologically suited for animals that naturally eat other animals (carnivores) I believe they work more efficiently for cats and dogs.
Healthy Pets Enzymes – One of the Smartest Choices for Your Pet's Overall Health
Unable to locate the perfect enzyme for my patients, I decided to formulate my own, using the ingredients I consider most effective for cats and dogs.
And now I'd like to make my Digestive Enzymes for Cats & Dogs available to you, too.
Using only the finest ingredients available, I've selected these enzymes to include in my Digestive Enzymes for Cats & Dogs:
- Betaine HCl - breaks down proteins into peptides and amino acids and fats into triglycerides
- Bromelain (pineapple) – one of the safest and most powerful enzymes to help break down and digest protein
- Papain (papaya) – a natural plant-sourced enzyme that works together with bromelain to digest protein
- Pancreatin – an animal-based pancreatic enzyme providing all three of these enzymes:
- Protease – helps break down proteins into amino acids for digestion
- Amylase – for splitting and breaking down long-chain carbohydrates, including starch and glycogen (the energy-storage molecule in animal tissue) for digestion in the small intestine
- Lipase – helps break down and digest fats
A Source You Can Trust
When selecting any enzyme – for human consumption or for use with your pets – you want to ensure the source of the enzymes is pure and from a reliable source.
I have selected a manufacturer that I wholeheartedly trust. Not only do they exceed the highest industry quality standards, but they also test and retest the original raw food sources from which the product is made, to make sure they conform to their rigorous standards.
Unlike so many animal supplements available today, the ingredients used in my Digestive Enzymes for Cats & Dogs are human-grade – meaning, they're not any different than those you or I would take. Most importantly, they're manufactured by a human supplement company in their own human products lab.
These are the same enzymes I recommend to my patients' owners – and the enzymes I feed to my own pets. In my opinion, you simply can't find an enzyme supplement better suited to – or safer – for your pet's needs.
Below you'll find answers to some frequently asked questions I receive from my readers and my patients' owners.
Q & A
Q: I've heard that some animals can be allergic to animal protein, since pancreatin is from porcine (pig) sources, should I be concerned?
A: Quite honestly, in my practice, I've never seen one case of an allergy to pancreatin.– it's that rare. However, if your pet has a known allergy to pork products, then they shouldn't take this product. Moreover, if your pet displays any kind of reaction to this or any enzyme product, you should immediately stop feeding them the product and contact your veterinarian.
Q: Can animal-based enzymes cause diarrhea and vomiting?
A: It's important to realize that ANY enzyme supplement can cause vomiting and diarrhea if given in too high a dose, especially fungus-derived enzymes. If your pet has digestive issues, I advise you to start slowly. This is easy to do with Digestive Enzymes for Cats & Dogs as they come in powdered form. You can begin with very small amounts and work up to the recommended amount over time, according to your pet's response.
Q: I've read that plant-sourced enzymes are better. Is that true?
A: In one word, no. I do not believe that to be true for dogs and cats. The key to optimal digestion is to mimic, as closely as possible, what you would find in their prey's GI tract. You want to recreate the enzymes found in the prey's digestive tract and throughout its body. Plant-derived enzymes are great for rabbits (and other vegetarian pets) but are typically not strong enough for your carnivorous pet.
Q: I see vegetarian fungal-based enzymes for sale in my health food store. Are these good for my pet?
A: Microbial – or fungal, to be exact – enzymes are sometimes recommended for human use, especially for vegetarians. However, for cats and dogs, who consume diets high in meat protein, I believe a pancreatic derived enzyme works far more efficiently. Fungal enzymes are just not as perfect a match for our furry friends' bodies as pancreatic enzymes. Plus, fungal enzymes can be particularly troublesome for animals with allergies, yeast problems, and weakened digestive systems.
Q: My pet eats a diet of raw meat, vegetables, and fruits. Do I need to give him supplemental enzymes?
A: Congratulations on making the switch to a real food diet! Remember the prey your pet's ancestor eats – it's teeming with living, fresh enzymes found in parts we don't feed: raw pancreas tissue and entrails (raw, unclean intestines). So even pets on raw diets may benefit from supplemental enzymes. Any time you can spare your pet from dipping into his enzyme stores, you're supporting his other metabolic functions and good health.
Q: I've heard that stomach acid destroys pancreatic enzymes. Isn't that a problem if I sprinkle this on my pet's food?
A: Because our pancreatic enzymes are animal-sourced, their ability to withstand stomach acidity on their way to the small intestine is naturally much greater than with plant or fungal enzymes.
Q: Is there ever a time you don't recommend enzymes for pets?
A: Yes. If your pet has recently undergone GI surgery or is currently being treated for a GI ulcer, I recommend you wait until your pet has recovered before instituting enzyme supplementation.
Why Healthy Pet Enzymes Should Be Your #1 Pick
There are seven reasons why I believe my Healthy Pet Enzymes should be your number one choice for a pet enzyme:
- You're likely to see fast results when you try Digestive Enzymes for Cats & Dogs. As digestion symptoms improve, you'll feel confident knowing you're providing what your pet needs for cellular function and his overall wellbeing.
- The ingredients get the job done. The finest animal-based enzymes are hand-selected for your pet's need and are as close as possible to their ancestral diet.
- Our enzyme sources are tested and re-tested. Digestive Enzymes for Cats & Dogs are manufactured under high-quality standards to help ensure purity.
- Easy to use. Just sprinkle the perfect amount for your pet over his food.
- Digestive Enzymes for Cats & Dogs are well tolerated by most cats and dogs.