The Holistic View: Seeing Is Believing
Most proponents of digestive enzymes, in both humans and pets, are alternative medicine or holistic veterinary practitioners that see these benefits anecdotally in practice with their own patients.
In an article on the topic, alternative medicine veterinary practitioners Steve Marsden, Shawn Messonnier, and Cheryl Yuill discuss the benefits that they see in practice and indications for digestive enzyme supplementation.
They indicate that digestive enzyme supplementation may be used for pets in cases of gastrointestinal disease or through a normal process of depletion of enzymes through the aging process. Certain disorders may arise from poor digestion, like food sensitivities, cutaneous adverse food reaction , and stool-eating behavior . In addition, conditions like stress, systemic illness and inflammation, and the use of certain medications may lead to digestive imbalance that may be at least partly helped by the use of digestive enzymes.
Many holistic practitioners also believe that optimal digestion may depend on the enzymes found naturally in whole foods like grains and fruits, but which are destroyed during the dry and canned pet food manufacturing process.
There are also theories that since enzymes can have additional functions throughout the body, that a deficiency of enzymes found naturally in whole foods may place a greater burden on the bodys metabolism.
Causes Of Pancreatitis In Dogs
There are a number of causes and risk factors that can bring on pancreatitis. Though often the attack appears seemingly out of the blue. Among them are:
- A high-fat dietThis is a major cause of pancreatitis, especially for a dog who gets one large helping of fatty food in one sitting
- A history of dietary indiscretion
- Certain medications or other toxinsThese include cholinesterase inhibitors, calcium, potassium bromide, phenobarbital, l-asparaginase, estrogen, salicylates, azathioprine, thiazide diuretics, and vinca alkaloids.
- There may, in some cases, be a genetic predisposition. Certain breeds or types of dogs have been associated with higher risks of pancreatitis such as Miniature Schnauzers and some of the smaller toy and terrier breeds.
More about those fats: Human food is especially dangerous, though even high-fat dog food may cause pancreatitis. So owner vigilance is particularly required around holidays and other festive occasionsthey can bring well-meaning guests who slip your buddy a fatty piece of lamb, or a tray of buttery cookies left within reach of an eager muzzle. In fact, the day after Thanksgiving is known for more than just Black Friday bargains. Its one of the busiest days of the year pancreatitis-related emergency vet visits.
Basically, if your dog is showing any signs of abdominal pain, the worst thing to do is feed him a fatty diet. This is one of many reasons that giving your dog table scraps, as tempting as it may be, is not advisable.
Best Digestive Enzymes For Dogs
What helps a dogs digestive system? Many things can, and digestive enzymes are high on that list. What are digestive enzymes for dogs? Enzymes can be found in foods as well as the digestive organs of dogs. Digestive enzymes for dogs are also available in supplement form.
- Protease The enzyme responsible for breaking down proteins into shorter fragments called peptides and eventually into their components, amino acids.
- Amylase A digestive enzyme that breaks down the starch in food into smaller carbohydrate molecules
- Lipase An enzyme mainly produced by the pancreas that helps the body break down and digest dietary fats.
- Cellulase An enzyme that does not exist in a dogs digestive system but is essential for the breakdown of fiber, such as those from grains and plant material.
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Whats The Difference Between Acute And Chronic Pancreatitis
Acute PancreatitisAn acute attack of pancreatitis means it comes on suddenly, with no previous appearance of the condition before. It can become life threatening to other organs if the inflammation spreads.
Chronic PancreatitisA chronic condition is one that has developed over time, slowly, and often without symptoms. This condition can result from repeated bouts of acute pancreatitis.
Both acute and chronic forms can be either severe or mild, and both result in pain.
Does Your Dog Have A Limited Supply Of Enzymes That Will Run Out
Some brands encourage the use of their enzyme supplements based on a claim that your dog has a limited supply of enzymes, and will eventually run out of them unless they are added to the diet. This is not true for a healthy dog.
The pancreas makes and adds enzymes to the food as needed, and does not run out of them.
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What Is The Treatment For Epi
Daily pancreatic enzyme supplementation is the standard treatment for EPI. Your vet will prescribe these supplements, which you will then add to your pets food to help ensure they get the enzymes they need. Supplements usually come as a powder, capsule or tablet. Side effects of enzyme supplementation are rare but may include bleeding of the mouth. When this happens, some veterinarians will prescribe raw, chopped beef or pork pancreas for your pet to eat.
Your vet may also recommend that you change your pets diet. Typically, novel protein or hydrolyzed diets are prescribed. Novel protein diets use protein sources your pet hasnt seen before such as kangaroo, venison, alligator, etc. Hydrolyzed diets are made so that the proteins themselves are so small that they are unlikely to cause an adverse food reaction. Cobalamin supplementation is also commonly prescribed in both dogs and cats with EPI.
If your pet does not respond to standard treatment, your veterinarian may try a different brand or formulation of pancreatic enzymes or may alter the dose until they find the best treatment for your pet. Occasionally other medications may also be used to improve your pets response. Your veterinarian may also look for more evidence of other diseases, such as intestinal problems, which could occur at the same time as EPI and may cause similar symptoms.
Where Are These Enzymes Made
In dogs, most digestive enzymes are made by the pancreas, a relatively small organ that sits close to the stomach and small intestine. The pancreas is a digestive enzyme factory, and secretes enzymes into the food as the food leaves the stomach. When the food moves through the small intestine, the enzymes from the pancreas break apart the proteins, fats, and sugars so that they can be absorbed by your dogs body.
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What Is Digestive Enzymes And How Does It Work
Digestive enzymes are natural substances needed by the body to help break down and digest food. It is used when the pancreas cannot make or does not release enough digestive enzymes into the gut to digest the food. Depending on the amount of enzymes in your product, it may be used for indigestion, as a supplement, or as replacement therapy .
- Some supplement products have been found to contain possibly harmful impurities/additives. Check with your pharmacist for more details about the brand you use.
- The FDA has not reviewed this product for safety or effectiveness. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
- Digestive enzymes is available under the following different brand names: Arco Lase, Digepepsin, and Gustase.
Efficacy Of Pancreatic Enzyme Replacement In Dogs
Pancreatic enzyme replacement in dogs is associated with good recovery of digestive functioning and good long-term prognosis. Although some anecdotal recovery of EPI has been reported, in the vast majority of cases enzyme replacement therapy will be required on a life long basis and food can not be given without enzymes or flare ups can occur.
The addition of antibiotic therapy, vitamin B12 injections, and specialized diet improves the effectiveness of enzyme replacement therapy and prognosis for EPI dogs. Cobalamin deficiency is associated with EPI and enzyme replacement treatment, and if it occurs will also require supplemental treatment.
Dogs on pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy can experience a normal life and normal life expectancy.
A small percentage of dogs do not respond to initial treatment due to the presence of other medical conditions such as cobalamin deficiency, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease or other digestive illness. If progress does not occur these conditions will need to be identified and treated in conjunction with pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy in order for a good outcome to be achieved.
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What Are The Causes Of Epi
The most common cause of EPI is a lack of the cells that make digestive enzymes. Cells can be lacking due to wasting away , damage from inflammation, a blockage of the pancreatic duct, or other causes. In most cases, there are no digestive enzymes at all however, in rare cases, just one enzyme may be missing in your pet.
Any dog or cat can develop EPI. Some dog breeds may be more likely to develop EPI than others, including young German Shepherds, Rough-Coated Collies, and Eurasiers. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels may be predisposed to EPI following chronic inflammation of the pancreas, also known as pancreatitis. Domestic shorthair cats may also be more likely to have EPI.
Treatment Alterations Use Of Additional Therapy And Diet
The intention was that only the enzyme supplement and weekly cobalamin injections would be administered during the trial. However, in accordance with normal clinical practice, alterations in enzyme dose and the addition of other therapies were allowed if response to therapy was poor. Primary care veterinarians made all treatment changes, after discussing them with one of the study observers, and in accordance with a standardised protocol. In this regard if, at the first reassessment , clinical response was deemed to be insufficient , the dose of enzyme was doubled. A further enzyme dosage increases were allowed on days 28 and 56, if necessary.
Given that hypocobalaminaemia is a negative prognostic indicator in canine EPI , and in order to ensure that this was not a confounding factor during the trial, weekly subcutaneous injections of cobalamin were administered to all dogs. This treatment was given irrespective of whether hypocobalaminaemia was present in pre-trial serum biochemical results. No other treatment was initially allowed in any of the dogs. Additional therapies were avoided as far as possible but if, in the opinion of the attending veterinarian they were deemed to be necessary, then they could be added from third visit onwards, again after discussion with the study observers. Sanctioned additional therapies included the use of either antibacterials or histamine-2-receptor antagonists .
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How To Give Your Dog Digestive Enzymes
Again, always buy a digestive enzyme supplement made specifically for dogs. Follow the instructions on the label for correct dosing.
Digestive enzymes are best given with food. You can add a little water or broth if needed.
And if your dog has EPI, its best to moisten any pancreatic enzymes you give. Let the moistened powder sit for 20-60 minutes before feeding.
Remember that heat kills enzymes. So never add them to hot food. And dont heat up food after adding enzymes.
Your dog shouldnt have any side effects other than improved digestion!
But if he gets any gas or loose stools at first, just reduce the dose a little until his body adjusts to the new digestive support.
You can also boost your dogs natural digestive enzymes by feeding enzyme-rich foods.
Why Are Pancreatic Enzyme Supplements For Dogs Used
Normally, the pancreas produces enzymes that digest food and allow nutrients to be absorbed. Sometimes the pancreas cant produce the enzymes needed to help your pet digest their food.The formal name for this disease is Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency and it is often abbreviated as EPI. It can be more common in German Shepherds, Rough Collies, and Chow Chows. The medication used to treat EPI is often a supplement of pancreatic enzymes that act like the ones your pet would usually make themselves.
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What Are Pancreatic Enzyme Supplements For Dogs
The pancreas produces three major enzymes: amylase, lipase, and protease. Amylase breaks down carbohydrates, protease breaks down protein, and lipase breaks down fats. This breakdown is necessary for all three of these dietary nutrients to be absorbed and put to use in the body. The majority of prescription pancreatic enzymes are extracts from pigs. They can come in tablets and in powders. Some products also contain vitamins A, D3, and E. Your veterinarian will decide if your pet needs the extra vitamins or not.
Reasons To Take Pancreatic Enzymes
Pancreatic insufficiency is the inability of the pancreas to secrete the enzymes needed for digestion. Having an insufficient amount of pancreatic enzymes is very common among people with pancreatic cancer. When the pancreas does not produce enough enzymes to break down food, pancreatic enzyme products are needed. Doctors sometimes prescribe digestive enzymes, including pancreatic enzymes, to patients who have conditions that cause poor absorption. These products help improve digestion and absorption of food.
Some of the conditions that may cause pancreatic insufficiency include surgery , blockage or narrowing of the pancreatic or biliary duct , pancreatic or duodenal tumors, cystic fibrosis or pancreatitis.
Some of the symptoms associated with pancreatic enzyme insufficiency include:
- feelings of indigestion
Patients with these symptoms should discuss with their medical team whether taking supplemental pancreatic enzymes may be beneficial for them.
MCT oil may help control weight loss in patients with uncontrolled malabsorption. MCT oil is a calorie-rich type of fat that bypasses usual fat absorption and is rapidly absorbed by the body. It is found naturally in coconut oil, palm kernel oil and butter. MCT oil is added to some medical nutritional supplements and can also be purchased alone as a nutritional supplement. Use of oral nutritional supplements may promote weight gain, help increase strength and physical activity, and improve quality of life.
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What To Look For In Digestive Enzymes For Dogs
According to Dr. Jean Hofve, holistic veterinarian, DVM, the best digestive enzymes for dogs come from plants or fungi , because they can survive the trip through the stomachs seriously acidic environment . Make sure the enzymes you choose contain at least protease, lipase, and amylase .
Just like with human enzyme supplements, some pet enzyme supplements use animal sources, but there are also plenty of options of vegetarian digestive enzymes for dogs. If youre comparing the benefits of digestive enzymes vs. probiotics for dogs, you may be happy to find out that there are supplements with both probiotics and digestive enzymes for dogs so your pet can reap the benefits of both in one supplement.
When looking for digestive enzymes for dogs with EPI, a higher strength product is needed. In general, speak with your veterinarian about the best product for your dogs individual needs. Reading digestive enzymes for dogs reviews may also help you figure out the best product for your dog.
Feeding Dogs With Epi
Your dogs diet is an important tool by which you can make sure their digestive health is up to snuff. The vet will probably recommend you feed your dog small and more frequent meals throughout the day. Overall, dogs with EPI should eat highly digestible foods.
High-fat and high-fiber foods are no-nos. Fiber in particular can interfere with the normal production of enzymes in the pancreas. If your dog does have an enzyme deficiency, they will still need an enzyme powder or pill on top of a healthy diet. Both home cooked meals and high-quality commercial dog food are suitable.
Dont feed a dog with EPI the following:
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A Word About Pancreatic Enzyme Supplements
If youre a companion to a pet that requires supplementing pancreatic enzymes, then you probably understand how confusing and expensive the pancreatic enzyme supplements can be. The large investment in pancreatic enzyme supplements, alone, is a motivation for the desire to have them to be efficient but their activity is crucial for your pets to be healthy and happy. This article is aimed at helping you understand the enzymes, the cost of them, and the disease behind them, so you can get the best results from them while possibly saving money.
If Our Bodies Make Digestive Enzymes Why Supplement Them
Its a great question, and the answer is hotly debated, especially by animal health experts.
Normal, healthy pets with normal digestion typically dont need digestive enzymes added to their diet, as their pancreas, stomach, and small intestine are doing just fine taking care of the business of digestion.
But there are certainly some cases where digestive enzymes may be deficient or are not being produced in sufficient quantity.
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Are There Any Potential Side Effects
Side effects usually occur at higher doses and may include diarrhea, cramping, gas, or vomiting. Concentrated forms can cause ulcers in the mouth or esophagus, so it is important to follow dosing with additional food or water . Serious side effects include bleeding from the mouth or difficulty swallowing.
This short-acting medication should stop working within 24 hours, although effects can be longer in pets with liver or kidney disease.
What Are Warnings And Precautions For Digestive Enzymes
This medication contains digestive enzymes. Do not take Arco Lase, Digepepsin, or Gustase if you are allergic to digestive enzymes or any ingredients contained in this drug.
Keep out of reach of children. In case of overdose, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center immediately.
- Acute pancreatitis, acute exacerbation of chronic pancreatitis
Effects of Drug Abuse
- See “What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Digestive Enzymes?”
- See “What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Digestive Enzymes?”
- The dosage depends on the condition being treated and digestive requirements of patients
- Fibrosing colonopathy advancing to colonic strictures reported
- Administering the contents of the capsules alone or mixing in food may cause irritation of the oral mucosa and or loss of enzyme activity
Pregnancy and Lactation
- Use digestive enzymes during pregnancy with caution if the benefits outweigh the risks. Animal studies show risk and human studies are not available, or neither animal nor human studies were done
- Side effects of digestive enzymes during breastfeeding are unknown use caution
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