When I started writing about nutrition a few weeks ago, I discussed how we’ve been feeding our pets highly processed pet food for the past six decades. No one can argue the convenience of feeding our pets this type of food – we all seem to be under a time crunch. As a vet, I understand that a large percentage of pets are going to eat dry kibble or canned food. It’s just reality, and it’s OK. What I’d like to do with this post is to help you improve your pet’s ability to utilize this food.
Commercial dog and cat food, whether in dry kibble or canned form, is subjected to high heat and pressure during processing. In the process, components of the food are inactivated, especially things like enzymes and other proteins. Although the pancreas produces enzymes for digestion of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, research shows that animals produce specific types and amounts of digestive enzymes, regardless of the composition of their diet. This means that most animals will benefit from the addition of digestive enzymes, particularly when they are eating commercial kibble or canned food with higher amounts of carbohydrates.
What can digestive enzymes do for your pets?
- They’ll get more nutrition from the same amount of food, which means their food (and your budget) will stretch a bit farther.
- They’ll have smaller and firmer stools because more food will be digested and absorbed.
- They’ll feel better!
How do you use digestive enzymes?
Most available products come in a powder form that can be sprinkled right on your pet’s food at each feeding. Choose a product that contains lipase, amylase, and protease, at a minimum. Enzymes that are derived from plant or fungal sources survive the trip through stomach acid better than those from animal sources. If your pet has been diagnosed with a condition called exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), look for digestive enzymes derived from pancreas, as they have been shown to work better for this condition.
A product I’ve used in patients can be found here. I like this product because it has human-grade ingredients, and pets will readily eat it. It has enzymes from both pancreas and plant sources.
This is a simple change you can make for your dogs and cats that will only add a few seconds onto your prep time for feeding them. I’d like to hear from you if you’re using digestive enzymes for your pets. Have you noticed a difference?