Enzymes (systemic and digestive) can be extremely beneficial supplements for companion animals—some have even credited them with nearly “magical” properties (many of them our own customers).  But, some manufacturers are selling their customers on the benefits of systemic enzymes, yet providing only simple digestive-aid formulas. Did you know that there are systemic enzymes as well as digestive enzymes? We decided that you should know the difference between systemic enzymes and digestive enzymes because of the important effects they can have on your pet’s health…

Systemic Enzymes Digestive Enzymes for Pets

"Many pet enzyme manufacturers are selling you on a systemic enzyme, but what you're actually getting is a simple digestive enzyme formula."

The Two Groups: Digestive Enzymes vs. Systemic Enzymes

Digestive enzymes: These enzymes are specifically designed to digest the main macronutrients in foods. A typical digestive enzyme formula will usually only contain protease, lipase, amylase and maybe a couple of other enzymes. These enzymes only work on the food as a digestive aid—they will not improve systemic processes.

Systemic enzymes: Also known as “metabolic” enzymes, these enzymes are used by the body to power a number of metabolic processes. Systemic enzyme formulas will contain a broad-spectrum of various enzymes.

Why the “Enzyme Confusion” is a Problem for Your Pet

Many digestive enzyme formulas often make the claims associated with a systemic enzyme approach.  Digestive enzymes will help with basic digestion, but will not have the profound systemic effect on overall health that a systemic formula will have.

A digestive enzyme formula is not a systemic enzyme formula and vice versa.

Benefits of Systemic Enzymes for Pets:

  • Support the immune system
  • Promote respiratory health
  • Help remove toxins from the body
  • Helps reduce minor food sensitivities
  • Support healthy teeth and gums
  • Promote normal body weight
  • Help maintain healthy cholesterol
  • Lessen skin irritation and excessive shedding
  • Increase energy levels

A Simple Guide: How To Choose Enzymes for Your Pet

Enzyme Molecule

Systemic enzymes and digestive enzymes perform different actions in the body.

A simple digestive aid: If you want an inexpensive product that primarily digests proteins, starches, and fats you could go with a pancreatic (animal-based) enzyme formula (digestive enzyme).

Improve digestion and body processes: If you want to improve digestion of foods, and you want an overall systemic benefit of enzymes (as listed above), then you would go with a systemic enzyme formula.


Point 2: Vegetarian-Based Enzymes vs. Animal Source

Some individuals or institutions want to make a big deal about this. But, the fact is, there is no convincing data supporting the argument of one source being more effective than the other for digestion in animals. In fact, both types are supported by the various governing bodies as effective in improving simple digestive functions.

Often the animal-sourced (pancreatic digestive) enzymes advocates will cite that animal enzymes best match the GI tracts of their prey, but that is actually not the case. For example, animal-based enzymes come from porcine or bovine sources, which does not match the prey of a dog or cat necessarily. In fact, vegetarian enzymes have more flexibility in formulation, which could make them a more desirable match for a dog or cat.

On the other hand, there is some risk  (be it small) with animal-sourced digestive enzymes as there are some concerns of the transfer of animal bone diseases. Overall, Nusentia’s position is that we prefer vegetarian enzymes for their safety and flexibility characteristics, though we have little to no issue with animal-based or pancreatic enzymes.

Point 3: Context and the Long-Term Approach

Dog Pancreas Image

"The dog pancreas can be supported by providing a simple pancreatic enzyme—but this, in a sense, is a 'band-aid' for a larger problem that has a root cause to be address."

You will, no doubt, choose what you feel is best for your pet—animal-based enzymes or vegetarian enzymes, digestive enzymes or systemic enzymes. Our hope is to provide you the context for making that choice, and also some insights to the Nusentia approach.

Simple digestive enzyme formulations, such as pancreatic enzymes, are helpful for acute conditions. But, in a sense, they are a band-aid that hides a bigger problem. If your animal is showing signs of poor digestion, there is a root cause that is more important to address. In short, simple digestive enzymes are a short-term approach to a digestive problem.

Our approach at Nusentia is to deal appropriately with the short-term, but ultimately improve the overall long-term health of animals. This is why we chose to take the systemic enzyme approach with Enzyme Miracle. Though, in an effort to keep it simple, we often refer to it as digestive enzymes. Enzyme Miracle is, in fact, a systemic and digestive enzyme formulation. Thus, it will improve digestion in the short-term and will work to improve overall systemic health by supporting many of the body’s systems in the long-term. This goes way beyond just digestive health as we outlined above.

Enzyme Miracle™ will greatly improve the health of animals. The formula is available in a convenient powder, or can be found in the combination probiotic tablet MiracleZyme. For the ultimate program to support foundational digestive health, many combine Enzyme Miracle with Probiotic Miracle. Great digestion comes primarily from the health of the gut, which probiotics are the most dynamic at addressing.

In summary, systemic enzymes get to the root cause approach, which is our orientation at Nusentia—this is why we recommend Enzyme Miracle as a long-term wellness supplement.

Best of health to you and your animals, and we hope this helped to provide some context when you look at enzyme formulations for your pet.

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† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using this product.

* Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Nusentia, unless otherwise noted. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Nusentia's experts and the Nusentia community. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions for your pet based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified veterinarian or health care professional.