Living foods, from plants or animal sources, contain enzymes (but they are wiped out by heat beginning at 110 degrees…so cooked food does not contain active enzymes) . The body, human or animal, manufactures enzymes. But as we age, our store of them and our ability to make them gets depleted. And they’re important not only for digestion but for immune system response, and to catalyze all kinds of chemical activity in the body. I believe enzymes, and proper digestions, might behind the vitality you see in a really healthy person or animal: ask what they eat, and I would bet 9 times out of ten the diet has a huge raw component. Think of the opposite of Morgan Spurlock after a month of eating only at McDonald’s (‘Super Size Me’). Remember his girlfriend, the vegan chef? Who brought his liver back to health at the end of the documentary?
Probiotics are the ‘good’ bacteria. They help with digestion and they maintain balance in the digestive tract. They even kill the ‘bad’ bacteria.
My pancreatic pug Zip will always get enzymes (and probiotics) added to any food he’s given, simply to lighten the load of his pancreas (which secretes enzymes to break down protein and fat). I take enzymes and probiotics too, even though I eat a lot of raw food, because I’m getting older and I think it helps me get the most benefit out of my diet. But do you really need to add these supplements to a pet’s raw diet?
For the first month of a raw diet, yes, I think you do. The body needs time to produce the enzymes it needs for this new regimen. Though the raw food itself contains enzymes, the load on the body to digest the new ‘material’ will be eased (as will your pickup duty) by sending some backup enzymes down the hatch. And then after 4-6 weeks, most animals will be fully transitioned into the new diet. But because you will be rotating among different proteins in the raw diet (you will, won’t you?), keep those enzymes and probiotics (sealed, at room temp, for max potency) for the next change in diet.
And dogs don’t have the ability to break down cellulase, which is found in the cell walls of fruit and vegetables. So if you aren’t pureeing the carrot your dog loves to chomp, it won’t do any harm but he won’t get the nutrients trapped inside either. Unless you add an enzyme mix containing cellulase. For some quick straightforward questions & answers, read the FAQ page on Prozyme here.
There’s some controversy over whether or not enzymes make it through the acid bath of the stomach to the small intestine. Steve Brown writes in See Spot Live Longer (along with co-author Beth Taylor) that enzymes are designed for the environment where they do their work; so an enzyme destined to break down protein in the stomach has the ability to withstand the acid. This article I found on the web (not on Prozyme’s site) says that Prozyme will withstand the stomach acids. Interesting stuff; to be continued. Comments welcome.