Pancreatic Enzyme Supplements for Dogs

The pancreatic enzymes have an important role in digestion. They help processing fats, proteins and carbohydrates. The pancreas is responsible for the production of lipase (breaks fat molecules), protease (breaks down proteins) and amylase (processes carbohydrates). If the dog’s pancreas cannot produce enough digestive enzymes, his body won’t get proper nutrients because of a faulty digestive process. Pancreatic enzyme supplements are necessary to help with the assimilation of nutrients and prevent dog starvation.

Pancreatic Enzyme Supplements for Dogs

If your dog suffers from a pancreas condition, such as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer, his pancreas will fail to produce the necessary enzymes for a proper digestion. This leads to a condition known as the maldigestion disorder.

The pancreatic enzyme supplements substitute the natural enzymes that are normally produced by the pancreas. These enzymes complete the digestive process and help the body assimilate nutrients.

Fat digestion is still difficult even with the supplement intake, so dogs with pancreas conditions should be kept on a low fat diet.

The most common pancreatic enzyme supplements administered to dogs are porcine enzymes. If your dog does not tolerate porcine enzymes, there are also enzyme supplements based on beef.

If you want to avoid prescription pancreatic enzyme supplements, you can feed your dog raw pig, beef or lamb pancreas instead of the freeze-dried powdered enzyme supplements.

Pancreatic enzyme supplements come in the form of pills or powders. There are several pancreatic supplements on the market which contain both pancreatic enzymes (lipase, protease, amylase) and other enzymes and minerals responsible for breaking down and processing nutrients.

Usually, the pancreatic enzyme supplements have to be administered 30 minutes before each meal. The treatment with pancreatic enzyme supplements is typically recommended until the dog’s condition is improved or in some cases, for life.  

Symptoms of Pancreatic Enzyme Insufficiency

When your dog’s pancreas ceases to function properly, it will no longer be able to produce the enzymes necessary for digestion. The food will not be assimilated in the body and it will be eliminated without actually providing the needed nutrients for the dog.

The pancreatic enzymes deficiency is usually the result of a pancreatic disease such as cancer, EPI, pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas or genetic disorder. The clinical signs a dog exhibits are:

  • Weight loss
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Yellow or gray stool
  • Diarrhea and flatulence
  • Coat in poor condition and shedding
  • Increased appetite and continuous hunger
  • Intestinal problems

If you see any of the symptoms above you should know that your dog has digestion problems. The incapacity of the pancreas to produce enzymes for a normal digestion can be a sign that there is a more serious underlying medical condition that requires treatment. The sooner you have it diagnosed, the better.

Incidence of Pancreatic Enzyme Insufficiency

This medical condition can be developed in time or inherited. It is not a breed-specific condition, but it occurs more often in German shepherds. Age is also a factor: older dogs are more prone to suffering from pancreatic enzymes disorders.