I previously wrote about how to choose healthy foods for your pet. In the article, I said that I was not a proponent of a raw food diet, because I felt that the risks outweighed the benefits. However, I have since come to the conclusion that feeding raw food is truly the healthiest way to feed our pets. We know from human nutrition that the less processed our foods are, the better for us, and the same holds true for our pets. Additionally, cats are carnivores, and as such, they are designed to eat raw meat. That being said, some pets, especially cats, can be difficult to transition to raw food . For those pets, the the next best thing for achieving the same results you get from raw feeding may be supplementing your pet’s diet with digestive enzymes.
The reason raw food is so good for our pets is because it still contains all the digestive enzymes. When food is processed and cooked, enzymes are destroyed. Enzymes aid in food absorption by breaking food down into simple, soluble substances that the body can absorb. Enzymes are important building blocks for a multitude of metabolic functions and can help the body fight the degnerative processes that come with aging, aid in better absoprtion of vitamins and minerals, and help build a healthy immune system. Enzyme deficiency can show itself in poor haircoat, allergies, intestinal problems, and voluminous stools, often with the fat still clearly visible.
If you’re not able to feed raw, you may want to consider supplementing your pet’s diet with digestive enzymes. There are numerous products on the market. One I like is Dr. Goodpet’s Feline Digestive Enzymes. In addition to enzymes, it also contains probiotics. It also has absolutely no scent or flavor, which can be an issue with cats. Amber readily accepted it on the very first try and has been taking it for the last few weeks. The most noticeable difference so far has been a marked decrease in the size and the smell of her stools.
The research, and testimonials, for the benefits of digestive enzymes, are convincing. Like pets on raw diets, enzyme supplementation can help your pets look and feel great. Pets on a raw diet tend to have glossy coats, clear ears and eyes, and better teeth. They maintain their ideal weight. They don’t have allergies or intestinal problems. If you’re not able to feed raw, enzyme supplementation can help you achieve the same results.
As a side note, I wanted to test the benefits of digestive enzymes for myself, so I began taking them right along with Amber (not the feline version, though! I choose a product designed for humans, Enzymedica Digest). While I can’t say that my coat has gotten glossier, I’ve definitely noticed an improvement with my digestion! I’ve also noticed that I don’t get hungry as quickly as I used to in between meals. My – completely unscientific – assumption is that it may be due to the fact that my body is absorbing nutrients better as a result of the added enzymes.
Please note: if your cat is diabetic or immuno-suppressed, digestive enzymes may be contra-indicated. Check with your veterinarian before changing your cat’s diet or adding supplements.