The Difference Between Systemic Enzymes & Digestive Enzymes

What is a systemic enzyme, and, what is a digestive enzyme? Did you know that there are differences? Each individual enzyme plays a very specific role and carries out a very specific action in the body.

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.  We decided that you should know the difference between systemic enzymes and digestive enzymes.

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 (starch, protein, fats, fiber, etc). 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—, and they will not make much impact on systemic processes.

Systemic enzymes:

Also known as "metabolic" enzymes, these enzymes are used by the body to power a number of metabolic processes, such as, breaking down toxins, reducing inflammation, and repairing organs and tissues. Systemic enzyme formulas will contain a broad-spectrum of various enzymes, and a high amount of proteolytic (or protein digesting) enzymes as well.

Why the "Enzyme Confusion" is a Problem for Your Pet

Many digestive enzyme formulas often make the claims associated with a systemic enzyme approach but do not offer a substantial enough amount of enzymes to do more than digest a little food. Digesting a little food is helpful, but for the best results for your pet's health, a broad-spectrum digestive/systemic enzyme is required.

Benefits of Systemic Enzymes

  • Support the immune system
  • Supports healthy inflammatory response
  • 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

Benefits of Digestive Enzymes

  • More complete digestion of nutrients
  • Better meal absorption and nourishment
  • Less strain on metabolic processes to reallocate enzymes from body systems to digestion

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. In fact, both types are supported by the various governing bodies as effective in improving simple digestive functions.

Animal Sourced Enzymes

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. Further, there is some risk (be it small) with animal-sourced digestive enzymes as there are some concerns of the transfer of animal bone diseases, side effects, as well as controversial manufacturing processes to produce pancreatic enzymes.

Vegetarian Enzymes

Plant-based enzymes have more flexibility in formulation, which could make them a more desirable match for a dog or cat. There is also no waiting period for them to start their action in the body, they go to work right away with little to no side effects. 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: The Long-Term Approach to Enzymes

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

Acute Care

Simple digestive enzyme formulations, such as pancreatic enzymes, are helpful for acute conditions which your veterinarian will recommend to you. But, in a sense, they are a band-aid that hides a bigger problem. We don't recommend pancreatic enzymes for long term supplementation, and suggest a closer look at the underlying health of your dog or cat before using this as a long term solution to pancreatic or other digestive issues.

Chronic Care

If your animal is showing signs of chronic 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, but ultimately, we want to improve the overall long-term health of animals. This is why we chose to take the systemic/digestive combination enzyme approach.

Enzyme Miracle® is a systemic and digestive enzyme formulation. 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 your dogs and cats. The formula is available in a convenient powder, or can be found in a tablet, MiracleZyme®, which provides the added benefit of probiotics as well.

For the ultimate program to support foundational digestive health, many combine Enzyme Miracle® with Probiotic Miracle®, because 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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