When to Give Your Dog Digestive Enzymes

Digestive Enzymes Dogs
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Have you thought about giving your dog digestive enzymes? Or maybe you believe he doesn’t require them. You must believe that everything is great because the food is coming out of one end and coming in the other. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. 

In reality, it’s possible that your dog needs assistance in order to properly absorb the nutrients from the food he consumes. This is due to a number of factors. 

What Are Digestive Enzymes?

Digestive enzymes are produced by your dog’s body naturally. While not the only enzymes produced by your dog’s body, digestive enzymes are among the most crucial to his health. Proteins called digestive enzymes aid in dissolving food molecules into smaller components. That gives his body fuel by facilitating a more effective absorption of nutrients.

Enzyme names all end in “-ase.” The main types of digestive enzymes dogs need include:

  • Protease
  • Amylase 
  • Lipase 
  • Cellulase 

The pancreas of your dog is where most digestive enzymes originate. The pancreas releases digestive enzymes as food passes through the small intestine of your dog. They do this so that your dog’s body can absorb the different meal ingredients.

If your dog’s body makes digestive enzymes on their own, why would they need supplements? 

Why Your Dog Needs Digestive Enzymes

Even a healthy dog could be enzyme-deficient.

Enzyme Deficiency

Early in the 20th century, Dr. Edward Howell became a pioneer in the study of digestive enzymes. He noticed that over time, the body starts to lack enzymes and we cook our meal, therefore that’s what occurs.

Due to decreased resilience to stress and disease, an enlarged pancreas, and smaller sizes of other organs, he discovered that the lack of enzymes in cooked food shortens life span in both humans and animals.

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Mechanisms in Medicine

His findings were summarized as:

“The length of life is inversely proportional to the rate of exhaustion of the enzyme potential of an organism. The increased use of food enzymes promotes a decreased rate of exhaustion of the enzyme potential.”

Dr. Edward Howell

In simpler terms, he was saying that we exhaust the enzymes that our bodies produce. As a result, we eventually run out of enzyme resources and get older. However, employing food enzymes slows down this procedure. It also applies to your dog.

Your dog’s food may contribute to an enzyme deficit. The body of your dog should create adequate digestive enzymes to break down carbohydrates, protein, and fat. However, that isn’t always the case due to modern diets.

According to Holistic Veterinarians

Most dogs eat highly-processed, heavily cooked commercial kibble. As such, holistic veterinarians have stated the following:

Dr. PJ Broadfoot explained that, to replenish the enzymes lost during food preparation and cooking, more enzymes are required. Virtually all enzymes can be destroyed during processing and heating at temperatures between 118°F and 129°F (48°C and 54°C) for as little as three minutes, which leads in very little pre-digestion occurring in the stomach.

As a result, the food mass that is still present enters the small intestine mainly undigested. As a result, the pancreas and other endocrine system organs are put under extreme strain as they must use up body reserves to manufacture copious amounts of the necessary enzymes.

Jean Hofve, DVM, explained digestive enzymes are helpful for healthy patients using heat-processed pet meals as well as for those with pancreatic and GI problems.

She noted recent studies demonstrate that supplementing with digestive enzymes significantly boosted digestion in the lumen of the small intestine and improved the bioavailability of proteins and carbohydrates in humans with gastrointestinal disease, but more crucially, even in healthy individuals.

This suggests that the majority of healthy adult dogs and cats can benefit from a digestive enzyme supplement, especially in light of the highly processed diet that the majority of our pets consume. Digestive enzymes aid in the improved digestion and absorption of any food by pets.

Even raw feeders require digestive enzymes at times.

Factors In Enzyme Deficiency

  • If your dog consumes starchy meals (such as kibble or some canned, freeze-dried, or dehydrated diets). He might not make enough enzymes to digest it. Amylase aids in starch digestion. However, because they wouldn’t consume starchy foods in the wild, dogs don’t naturally produce much amylase.
  • Foods that have been processed have died. Any live enzymes present in the raw materials are destroyed by the high heat and pressures needed to manufacture kibble. At temperatures higher than 118oF, natural enzymes are destroyed. Additionally, certain kibbles are cooked to 180 °C. That is 356oF, which is over 3 times the temperature at which enzymes are destroyed.
  • The temperatures used to cook food in cans are also high enough to kill enzymes. Furthermore, because canned food is fully sterile, it is actually “dead.”
  • If you feed your dog raw meat, you already know that it’s often the best option. Additionally, the raw food has live enzymes. Dogs would obtain additional enzymes from their prey’s stomach in the wild as well. However, most people don’t give their domestic dogs guts. Therefore, producing enzymes requires more effort from your dog’s body.
  • Vaccines, pharmaceutical drugs, dead foods and fluoridated water can all lower your dog’s ability to make its own enzymes. And over time, this can cause an enzyme deficiency. 
  • Even worse, your dog’s body naturally generates less enzymes as he gets older. Therefore, the deficit is made worse. The body of your dog can’t keep up! This indicates that all older dogs probably have an enzyme deficiency.

Enzyme Deficiency Affects The Whole Body

Even a healthy dog can run out of his own reserves of digestive enzymes. And that may have an impact on other crucial bodily functions.

  • Immune system
  • Waste and toxin elimination
  • Hormone regulation
  • Gallbladder function

Despite the fact that the gallbladder may appear to be a small, unimportant organ, it’s crucial for digestion since it makes bile, which aids in the breakdown of fat. Your dog won’t have enough bile in his digestive system to break down fats if the gallbladder isn’t functioning properly.

Signs Of Digestive Enzyme Deficiency

Watch for these signs your dog may need some digestive enzyme support:

  • Burping and farting 
  • Regurgitating undigested food
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Bloating
  • Smelly breath 
  • Acid reflux 
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Foul-smelling stools 
  • Undigested food in stool

Digestive enzymes may be quite helpful if you recognize your dog in these symptoms. Your dog can have a particular health concern that these supplements can aid with in addition to simply using up his own enzyme supply.

Digestive Enzymes For Health Issues

Here are some chronic health issues that need extra digestive enzyme support. 

EPI (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency)

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency is a condition in which the pancreas does not produce enough enzymes to digest food. This can lead to vomiting and diarrhea, as well as weight loss. Dogs with EPI also have an increased risk of developing diabetes mellitus. The symptoms of EPI are usually seen between 3 and 6 months of age, but may appear at any time during a dog’s life.

Your vet can diagnose EPI using a test called TLI – trypsin-like immunoreactivity test.

Dogs with EPI often develop small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). This is due to undigested food traveling through the intestines when EPI is present. This encourages the growth of microorganisms in the small intestine by feeding them (instead of the colon, where they usually live).

Managing EPI and SIBO

For EPI, even traditional veterinarians will recommend pancreatic enzymes and feeding raw pancreas. Consequently, the problem can be helped by a digestive enzyme supplement that contains pancreas. The best way to consume pancreatic enzymes is with food; they should be moistened and allowed to sit at room temperature for 20 to 60 minutes before to consumption.

EPI can benefit from feeding raw pancreas. 1 tsp of enzyme powder can be substituted with 1-3 oz of raw pancreatic. Cooking it will kill the enzymes, so never do that.

Additionally, digestive enzymes help reduce SIBO symptoms. They frequently lessen issues like bloating, gas, constipation, or diarrhea by aiding in the breakdown of food. Moreover, they will enhance nutritional absorption.

Chronic Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is a serious medical condition that can affect dogs of any age. It causes inflammation of the pancreas, which is a gland that produces digestive enzymes. When this occurs, it can be very painful for your dog and lead to other complications.

Symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs include:

Digestive enzymes are among the nutrients that your dog’s inflamed pancreas needs. Your dog won’t produce the necessary digestive enzymes if the pancreas isn’t functioning properly.

Chronic Health Issues

Digestive enzymes should also be given to dogs that have dietary intolerances, allergies, persistent ear infections, or skin issues. Remember that these issues frequently result from poor gut health… Therefore, the first step in fixing problems is creating a healthy stomach.

In fact, almost any recurring medical condition may be a sign that your dog isn’t getting enough nutrients.

For instance, according to some studies, nutritional deficits might potentially cause liver issues. and more digestive enzymes may be beneficial.

Consider the sequence of actions in your dog’s body. Nutrient deficiency results from a shortage of digestive enzymes. This leads to poor gut health, which can result in chronic disease and systemic inflammation.

In actuality, increased vitamin absorption will help most chronic health issues. Therefore, your dog requires digestive enzymes!

Choosing A Digestive Enzyme Supplement

Don’t provide your dog with a supplement designed for people. Purchase a product designed specifically for dogs because your dog has extremely unique enzyme demands.

Feed Your Dog Pancreas

Most of the digestive enzymes required by your dog are produced by the pancreas. Therefore, given that the pancreas has those enzymes, Important digestive enzymes like protease, amylase, and lipase are delivered through pancreatic supplementation.

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BJs Raw Food Pancreas

The production of digestive enzymes by the pancreas can be enhanced. There is a notion of feeding the organ you want to strengthen in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine and other herbal remedies. Since your dog’s pancreas is the organ that produces the majority of their digestive enzymes, feeding pancreas stimulates and strengthens the pancreas.


The enzyme found in papaya fruit is called papain. It aids in protein digestion. Papain is actually employed as a meat tenderizer. You can infer that it can digest meat from that. Additionally, it can help your dog’s immune system. Additionally, papain is anti-parasitic and can aid in your dog’s worming process. In medicine, papain is used to relieve inflammation and discomfort.


Pineapple stem, fruit, and juice are the sources of bromelain. It breaks down protein and has a reputation for easing discomfort and swelling, particularly in the gums, nose, and sinuses. Burns, arthritis, and muscle discomfort may all benefit from it.

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Betaine HCL

Hydrochloric acid occurs naturally in the form of betaine HCL. Pepsin, an enzyme that breaks down protein, is created by hydrochloric acid in the digestive tract. The generation of hydrochloric acid in the stomach is increased by betaine HCL. It can activate digestive enzymes and aid with protein digestion. Betaine increases gut bacteria and digesting enzymes, according to research.


Dogs don’t have natural cellulase. But many of them need it … especially if they eat kibble. Cellulase helps your dog break down fiber. Most kibbles contain fibrous fillers like cellulose (which is basically sawdust). So a digestive enzyme containing cellulase is a must to ease your dog’s digestion. It’ll also help your dog digest grains and other plant material in his food.

Natural cellulase is not present in dogs. However, many of them require it, particularly if they consume kibble. Your dog can digest fiber with the aid of cellulase. Most kibbles have additives that are fibrous, such cellulose (which is basically sawdust). To facilitate your dog’s digestion, a digestive enzyme that contains cellulase is a necessity. Additionally, it will aid your dog’s digestion of grains and other plant matter in his diet.

Dogs with yeast can also benefit from cellulase. Biofilm is a coating of defense produced by microorganisms like bacteria and fungi.

Biofilm has its benefits. However, it can also aid your dog’s immune system in hiding yeast from anti-yeast medications. Cellulose makes up the walls of yeast cells. Therefore, cellulase can assist in dissolving the cellulose and eliminating the yeast’s defenses.

Cellulase has another benefit: it helps control blood sugar levels.


Yeast and pollen both contain the enzyme invertase. Intestinal health depends on it. In order to aid in the digestion of starchy carbs, it divides sugar into glucose and fructose. By doing this, sugars are removed from the digestive system before they may ferment and cause issues. Invertase can also increase immunity and has antiseptic and antibacterial qualities. It is claimed to slow down aging and even lead to bodily rejuvenation. 

Ox Bile

Bile is created by the liver and is kept in the gallbladder. Following a meal, the gallbladder releases bile to help with digestion by converting lipids into fatty acids. Additionally, bile aids in the body’s waste product removal and blood sugar metabolism.

Giving ox bile, however, helps supplement the gallbladder’s insufficient bile production. Additionally, ox bile aids in reducing bacterial development. In controlling SIBO in the small intestine, it can therefore be quite helpful.

Ox bile is sometimes said to as the best digesting enzyme. It functions like a detergent that breaks down fat to make it easier to digest.

How To Give Your Dog Digestive Enzymes

Once more, make sure to get digestive enzyme supplements manufactured especially for dogs. For the proper dosage, adhere to the label’s directions. The ideal way to take digestive enzymes is with food. If more liquid is required, add a little water or broth.

Additionally, it’s advisable to moisten any pancreatic enzymes you give to your dog if they have EPI. Before feeding, allow the moistened powder to remain for 20 to 60 minutes. Keep in mind that heat destroys enzymes. Thus, never include them in hot food. And after adding enzymes, avoid heating meals so they can remain intact.

Your dog shouldn’t experience any adverse effects besides better digestion. However, until his body adapts to the new digestive support, just slightly lower the dose if he initially experiences any gas or loose stools.

You can also boost your dog’s natural digestive enzymes by feeding enzyme-rich foods.

Foods With Digestive Enzymes for Dogs

Whole foods that naturally contain digestive enzymes include:

  • Ginger
  • Honey
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Fermented veggies
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Helping Your Dog Absorb Nutrients

Your dog will benefit from greater digestive health when their body absorbs nutrients more effectively. And that means better disease resistance and immunological function as well as fewer chronic health issues. No matter what medical condition your dog has, or even if they appear to be completely healthy, always keep digestive enzymes in mind.

Read more:

Digestive enzymes in dogs and cats

The Truth About Digestive Enzyme Supplements for Your Dog

Acute pancreatitis in dogs

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in dogs

Digestive Enzyme Supplements: Breaking Down the Evidence

Adding digestive enzymes to dog food

Published by Amber L. Drake

Dr. Amber L. Drake is a celebrated author and a distinguished cancer specialist, renowned for her comprehensive research in canine cancer prevention and nutrition. She is widely recognized for her commitment to helping dogs lead long and joyful lives, as well as for her contributions to veterinary medicine education. As the CEO of Canine Companions Co., the Founder of the Drake Dog Cancer Foundation and Academy, and the Co-Founder of Preferable Pups, she has become a respected and influential figure in the canine community, earning the admiration and respect of dog enthusiasts around the globe.

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