Linda Arndt ~ Canine Nutritional Consultant

The Importance of Enzymes in a Canine Diet


The last 20 years I have written about the necessity of incorporating enzymes into your dog's diet. In this article, I would like to help you better understand the benefits of using enzymes and why they are so important for quality health and longevity. I will try to keep this in lay terms so you have a solid understanding of enzymes. In this article I am going to talk of two kinds of enzymes. Digestive Enzymes and Dietary Enzymes.

Digestive Enzymes

Digestive Enzymes, these are facilitators, and they have a different job than dietary enzymes, in that they are present in all living matter and they are necessary for proper digestion. For our pets to obtain proper digestion, they need digestive enzymes which are normally made by the pancreas (digestive enzymes) and are found in the foods we would normally eat provided the food is not cooked as heated and processed the foods, human or animals, destroys 100% of the enzymes.

This forces the animals' body to depend entirely on its own pancreatic output of digestive enzymes for digestion of the food. This is stressful on the system over a long period of time and it is called leukocytosis. There are 4 digestive enzymes: proteases, which breaks down protein; lipases, which breaks down fats or lipids; amylases, which breaks down carbohydrates (principally starch and sugars); and cellulases, which breaks down vegetable matter, including fiber.

The object of "breakdown" is to improve digestion by increasing the availability of nutrients. A faster breakdown of food means the animal can process the food much quicker. I incorporate digestive enzymes into my dogs diet through the use of 4 in 1 Probiotic/Digestive Enzymes. This product contains (digestive enzymes, probiotics, ester C - barley grass) and is compatible with any commercial food.

It is my opinion digestive enzymes in combination with probiotics (friendly yogurt-type bacteria) may well be the key to reducing or eliminating the possibility of bloat which often leads to gastric torsion. These two extremely important elements are missing in the vast majority of commercial dog foods and also help to keep the pH of they gut where is should be reducing the chances of systemic yeast infections that can also lead to bloat.

There are only a few commercial food companies who believe digestive enzymes and probiotics are necessary to an animal's diets, and choose to put these items back on the food after it is processed. This is an important step in the right direction so when searching for a quality food, make sure the company uses these on their products.

I use additional digestive and probiotics in the form of 4 in 1 Probiotics for all my animal's diets, as an added measure of insurance. This is no guarantee, but it is certainly more help than we have had so far in this struggle to control bloat and gastric torsion and other degenerative diseases.

Dietary Enzymes: The Internal Battleground

Before we discuss dietary/metabolic enzymes we must understand the correlation between antioxidant enzymes and free radicals. Free radicals kill molecules in the body, which in turn kills off cells, and the end result of this is disease, decay, and eventually death. Free radicals are naturally occurring unstable molecules, which damage healthy molecules by stealing electrons. They develop in the body naturally for different reasons including normal metabolism, disease, environmental and physical stress, pollution, pesticides, medicines, injury, radiation to name a few.

To compensate, our bodies produce antioxidant enzymes to counteract free radicals and cleanse free radicals from our systems through waste products. When we do not provide our ourselves with an adequate balanced diet, of quality 'fresh' foods, it reduces the ability of our body to make these chemicals and chemical reactions necessary for optimum health. In addition to diet, environmental stress and the natural aging process also effects the body's ability to make these critical enzymes.

Nature has designed it's food sources to have sufficient enzymes, provided they are not lost in the cooking or processing of foods. However, ingesting foods which is "enzyme-empty," triggers the body's immune system in the opposite manner and the body responds with leukocytosis. This reaction occurs after eating cooked foods or processed foods and elevates white blood cell levels. By incorporating enzymatic rich food sources into our diet, like sprouts, we can counteract this problem of cell damage.If we think of our nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, etc., as being the bricks, enzymes are necessary to build the walls.


Antioxidants, good guys, are the bodies scavengers, they clean the body of any free radical toxins. I think of an antioxidant as “filters” for the body and they decrease in our bodies as we age.

Where can we get antioxidants? Antioxidants are found naturally in foods in the form of:

  • Antioxidant Vitamins - A, C, E
  • Antioxidant Minerals - Selenium, Zinc
  • Antioxidant Enzymes - in the form of dietary enzymes found in certain foods, herbs, amino acids, hormones, botanical sources etc..

An Illustration:

Your car needs gasoline to run. Gasoline is the energy that powers the car to run.
Your body needs oxygen to run. Oxygen is the energy that powers a body.

In both cases this production of energy = produces byproducts or toxic waste, which need to be eliminated. Cars do it through exhaust system and the body through it's waste system.

Dietary enzyme supplementation is critical for protecting our bodies against damage at a cellular level. Dietary enzymes provide anti-aging properties that minimizes the ravages of time on our bodies. In humans, damage is seen as wrinkles, liver spots, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases caused when free radicals kill off molecules in the body.

These are some of the benefits of dietary enzyme supplementation to a diet.

  • reduces the effects of aging, wrinkles, liverspots etc.
  • aids in disease prevention
  • aids in the prevention of cancer and debilitating diseases
  • minimizes the negative effects of cancer therapies
  • reduces the size of cancerous tumors
  • boosts the immune system
  • reduces inflammation /soreness of muscle and joint pain
  • retards periodontal disease
  • retards the progression of disease processes
  • prevention of heart disease
  • speeds healing after surgery
  • prevention of “reperfusion” after bloat/torsion surgery
  • reduces the negative effects of inoculations
  • reduces the negative effects of anesthetics
  • aids in reproduction problems, regulating cycles, infertility and sterility
  • cleanses the system from allergic reactions

The older we get the more our body depends on enzyme rich food sources to produce adequate levels of our bodies needed enzymes. One way to provide these enzymes is through a whole food supplements like Nzymes pet treats/granulas or human capsules.

Some of the uses associated with this product is its ability to favorably enhanced vitality in the animal in relation to muscle-skeletal decline, arthritis, hip dysplasia, wobblers, HOD, OCD, Pano, diabetes, thyroid, allergic reactions, skin, urinary and liver problems, gastric torsion, and cancer.

First Hand Knowledge

One of my first experiences with this product was on a severely arthritic Dane who I was going to have to euthanized because she could not get up and potty herself. Within days of using the enzymes, she was walking, and playing again. In fact she lived 8 more years without pain. For the past 20 years I have used this form of dietary enzymes for myself and all my dogs and cats and it is a supplement I will not do without!

I know several breeders that have managed to regulate their bitches seasons plus get males poor sperm count and motility back on track, through the use of these enzymes supplements.

Note: If you are experiencing reproduction problems, before you resort to drastic measures, contact me and we can discuss some nutritional recommendations.

Healing and Vaccines

I think dietary enzymes and digestive enzymes are a must for animals going through major surgery, particularly after torsion surgery. In addition we notice that when our puppies are taking enzymes prior cropping, they tend to come out of anesthesia quicker and heal faster. During vaccinations the enzymes help to eliminate toxins from the body and have been very effective in countering the effects of vaccinosis. Here is an article on how to help prevent vaccine reactions

I hope this article clarifies the difference between Dietary Enzymes and Digestive Enzymes.

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