Functions of Digestive Enzymes in Dogs

Digestive enzymes are chemicals generated in a dog's body that help in digestion. Read on to know more about their importance...
DogAppy Staff
Enzymes are organic catalysts that initiate or increase chemical reactions within the body, including digestion, tissue repair, energy generation, etc. For digestion, commonly two types of enzymes are used―the digestive enzymes that come from the food eaten, and the enzymes that are produced internally by digestive organs. Natural digestive enzymes are essential for good canine health and longevity. These chemicals break down the food, so that our body can draw the nutrients required to perform bodily activities more efficiently. Unlike the human digestive system, in which the digestion starts as soon as the saliva comes in contact with the food, dogs do not have enzymes in their saliva, and have to rely on those produced in their body.

How do These Chemicals Work?

Digestive enzymes are excessively found in dog foods that have not been cooked over 118 °F. Therefore, food in its natural, uncooked state contains a high level of digestive enzymes that can greatly aid in the digestion process. At the same time, the pancreas also secretes the right quantities and concentrations of digestive enzymes that help in digestion. Examples of these include:
  • Protease: Enzymes responsible for breaking down polypeptides (proteins) into amino acids.
  • Lipase: Enzymes that help breaking down fats into fatty acids and glycerol.
  • Amylase: Enzymes responsible for decomposing carbohydrates (starches and other polysaccharides) to sucrose, lactose, and maltose.
  • Cellulase: Enzymes capable of decomposing fiber (cellulose).
Benefits

Along with aiding in healthy digestion and nutrient absorption, digestive enzymes also help in:
  • Improving the immune system
  • Eliminating or reducing the habit of eating stool, called coprophagia
  • Minimizing the risks of developing various degenerative diseases, like osteoarthritis, and toxin build-up
  • Enhancing T-cell production―the cells that help in fighting cancer
  • Promoting weight loss
Effects of Deficiency

If there are inadequate digestive enzymes present in the food, the entire burden gets transferred onto the dog's body, which forces it to produce more digestive enzymes. As a result, the digestive system gets overstressed, which eventually causes improper food digestion and nutrient malabsorption. Further, it may lead to undigested proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, which promotes the growth of unwanted bacteria. The microbes eventually disturb the delicate balance of intestinal microbes, or gut flora. This leads to:
  • Bloating and gas accumulation in the stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Bad breath and body odor
  • Lethargy and sluggishness
  • Weak immune system
  • Skeletal conditions such as osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, etc.
  • Skin problems
  • Cancer, and premature aging
Hence, to overcome all these problems, it is recommended to provide enzyme supplementation to the dogs for optimal digestion and toxin elimination. Digestive supplements are specifically beneficial for dogs who are fed cooked or processed food, or are suffering from digestive problems or disorders. Older dogs or dogs under stress, who tend to produce smaller amounts of digestive enzymes, can also benefit from probiotics et al.

Research shows that these supplements are extremely safe, and cause no side effects. Since these supplements increase the dog's ability to break down the food into nutritious components which keep their intestinal microflora in balance, providing digestive enzymes supplements to the dogs will help them attain a healthier lifestyle.