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Enzymes and Probiotics

Enzymes and Probiotics

By Lew Olson • November 2003 Newsletter
I often get requests from people wanting digestive aids for their dogs, but many seem to either not understand the difference between enzymes and probiotics or get them confused. In this newsletter, I will try to clear up the differences and hopefully cover this topic well enough for folks to be able to make the right choices.

Both of these supplements are useful to aid in digestion, but each of them is completely different in how they work in the digestive system.

Enzymes are helpful in breaking down proteins, fats and carbohydrates into smaller units that can be absorbed in the small intestine. It is thought that certain ailments can hinder this process and adding enzymes to the diet can be helpful to help ensure good digestion for assimilation of nutrients.
In humans, carbohydrate digestion starts in the mouth, as humans have amylase in the saliva. However, dogs do not (as they are carnivores) so for them carbohydrate digestion begins in the stomach. Some protein digestion also starts in the stomach. Hydrochloric Acid is released in the stomach, which in turn, stimulates the production of pepsin which starts protein digestion. Hydrochloric Acid (HCI) has a pH of 1, which in turn helps to kill micro-organisms.
Fats are only broken down (into lipids) in the small intestine. The bile released there emulsifies fats and the enzymes released from the pancreas contain pancreatin, which breaks down the fats in lipids. The enzymes released from the pancreas also include amylase, which reduces the carbohydrates to sugars or glucose and protease, which helps to break down proteins to amino acids. Lastly, the pancreas secretes bicarbonate to raise the pH 1 from the HCI in the stomach to a more neutral number.
When looking for a digestion aid, it is important to find an enzyme product that covers all stages of digestion. For dogs, this includes Ox Bile extract, which helps stimulate HCI production and pepsin which aids protein digestion for the stomach. For the small intestine, pancreatin and pancrealipase are important for fat digestion, amylase is important for carbohydrate digestion and trypsin is important for protein digestion.
Papain (made from papaya’s) and Bromelain (made from pineapple’s) are plant enzymes and also helpful for digestion and aiding with controlling gas and indigestion. Bromelain is also helpful for inflammation, when given AWAY from food. Both of these enzymes enhance existing enzymes in the body.
Some problems that can be helped by using enzymes include:
Allergies – to help break down proteins that can cause reactions.
Liver problems – to help with fat digestion and relieve the liver.
Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD), Colitis, IBS, Gas, Diarrhea – to help digest fats, proteins and starches for better digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Autoimmune Diseases and Cancer – to help bodies that may not be functioning up to par to break down and absorb nutrients from food.
Changing diets – to help ease the transition.
Inflammation problems – many enzymes are thought to help lower inflammation response.
The term Probiotics refers to the beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. These bacteria help to keep the ‘bad’ or unfriendly bacteria in check. They mostly include lactobacilli and bifidobacteria — often called acidophilus and bifidus. These bacteria are thought to produce antimicrobial metabolites, help with the immune system and aid in mucosal conditioning. When certain factors reduce the friendly bacteria (antibiotics, stress, illness, diarrhea), an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria can result causing digestive upsets and yeast infections.
Using probiotics can help keep the friendly bacteria in balance in the digestive tract by replenishing those lost through antibiotic use. It can also help maintain a healthier digestive tract and help with firmer stools. This supplement is often used with Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome as these conditions can be associated with bacteria overgrowths in the digestive tract. It is useful to use after antibiotic treatments and also during stress (boarding, traveling, training or after surgery).
Both Probiotics and Enzymes can be used together if needed.
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