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Digestive Enzymes for Pets

What are digestive enzymes? Enzymes are responsible for making the chemical reactions in our body faster and more efficient. Digestive enzymes aid the body by breaking down proteins from food into amino acids which can be absorbed and utilized. Enzymes facilitate proper absorption of foods.

Digestive enzymes are found in raw foods. They are what cause foods to break down and decay. For example, bananas contain the enzyme, amylase. Amylase breaks down raw starch into sugar, which is why green bananas become softer and sweeter as they sit on the counter. All raw foods contain the right amount of the specific enzyme required to break the proteins they are made of.

Why is this important? Cooking destroys the enzymes that are required to break food down, so when we eat cooked food our bodies have to source enzymes from an internal supply. If the body is focused on producing enzymes for digestion, less energy is allotted to the metabolic enzymes used in organ, muscle and cell function.

Efficient and complete digestion is essential to good health. When the digestive system is functioning well, the rest of the body is prepared to maintain good health and fight disease. Digestive enzymes can take the body from merely surviving to truly thriving. This is especially important in animals with allergies, compromised immune systems, IBD, IBS, and pancreatitis. Symptoms of an enzyme deficiency can include bloating, gas, irritability and fatigue.

How should this affect your choices for pet food?

  1. Feed raw. Any food that hasn’t been cooked over 118 degrees will retain its required enzymes. Choose a frozen, dehydrated and freeze-dried raw food that is complete and balanced. See some of the foods we recommend here.
  2. Supplement with a digestive enzyme. Choose a plant-sourced enzyme as they survive under more diverse conditions. Avoid enzymes called “animal pancreas extracts” which may not survive the acidic environment on the digestive tract. We like InClover’s Optagest.
  3. Choose raw treats like frozen marrow bones and raw goat milk. These treats contain live enzymes to support the digestive tract and overall good health and your animals will love them!
  4. Read our blog post on “Helping Pets with Digestive Problems for more info and recommendations.

Ending the Monotony Meal Plan: The Benefits of Pet Food Rotation

At The Happy Beast, we believe that there are significant benefits from pet food rotation. In fact, we think it’s a big pet food myth that animals should eat the same formula of the same brand of food for their whole lives. While this is a great marketing ploy for the pet food companies (who don’t want you to feed anything but their brand of food) it is not in the best interest of your animal’s health and well-being. For one thing, eating the same thing over and over is boring… just imagine eating one kind of cuisine for every meal for the rest of your life! Even more importantly, from a health perspective, a monotonous diet can have negative effects on your animal for the following reasons:  

  1. Although pet foods are formulated to be “balanced and complete,” it’s unlikely that one food will meet all of an animal’s nutrient requirements over a long period of time.
  2. Feeding one food may cause your animal to develop an intolerance or allergy to the ingredients in that food.
  3. The digestive system of an animal that has only had to process one kind of food will be weaker and less tolerant to changes and natural aging.

The good news is that there are many ways to incorporate pet food rotation into your animal’s diet:

  1. Even if you like feeding a specific brand, choose a different recipe or protein source each time you buy a bag, box, or can of food. Most companies offer several formulas. If you usually feed a chicken recipe, try bison or fish.
  2. If you normally feed dry food or kibble, supplement with another, less processed food. Raw, dehydrated, freeze-dried, and canned foods can all make great mix-ins.
  3. Add fresh food. “Table scraps” aren’t necessarily bad as long as you’re not feeding them during a meal at the table! Just limit what “people food” you share with your animals to healthy foods like lean meats, salmon skins, yogurt, and cooked vegetables. Although small fish bones are fine, you should not typically feed larger “table scrap” bones because they have been cooked. In comparison to raw bones, cooked bones can more easily splinter and cause a choking risk. 

If your animal has a very sensitive digestive system or has been eating the same food for a very long time:

  1. Add in new foods very slowly.
  2. Supplement the diet with a prebiotic, probiotic, or digestive enzyme. (We like Optagest or raw goat milk.)

Chicken, turkey, lamb, and beef are often used in pet foods, but new protein sources are making their way into the market. “Novel proteins” is an industry term for meats not commonly found in pet foods. We commonly recommend novel protein diets for animals with food sensitivities or allergies, but healthy animals can benefit from these meats as well. Try including goat, rabbit, venison, alligator, or kangaroo in your animal’s next pet food rotation!

 

If variety isn’t the spice of life, is it catnip?

Our Favorite Eco-friendly Pet Products

As part of our ongoing efforts toward greater sustainability, we’re always searching for the best environmentally-friendly pet products. After rigorous product testing (thanks Loki!) and careful consideration, we’re super excited to be expanding our selection of eco-friendly products, including toys made from natural and renewable materials, durable bowls that can be composted, and collars made from recycled water bottles. Read more about some of our favorite brands or stop by the store to check them out for yourself. We’re sure that your pet (and the planet) will thank you.

Throughout August, you can also save 10% off Planet Dog, EarthDog, Aussie Naturals, Lupine and CycleDog!

Toys

  • Beco Pets
    • These guys use natural, recyclable or renewable materials whenever possible. Their rubber toys are biodegradable and made from material that contains rice husks, which is a by-product of rice farming. Beco plush toys are also stuffed with material made from recycled plastic bottles.
  • Planet Dog
    • Planet Dog’s Orbee-Tuff toys are 100% recyclable and made in the USA from 20-100% recycled material. The company uses minimal packaging to reduce waste and emissions from shipping. Since their toys are so durable, they also rarely need to be replaced, which means less waste in landfills.
  • Aussie Naturals
    • This great company reduces their carbon “pawprint” by using natural materials like jute, wool, cotton, coconut fiber, natural gum rubber and leather.
  • CycleDog
    • Another favorite, CycleDog collects used bicycle tires from around the country and re-purposes them into super tough toys that squeak and float. That’s some amazing up-cycling!

Collars

  • LupinePet Eco Collars
    • These stylish collars are made from recycled plastic bottles and are amazingly soft! The collars are machine-washable and durable, but if anything happens to yours, Lupine will replace it for free – no questions asked!
  • Earthdog Hemp Collars
    • Earthdog chose hemp because it requires less water than any other fiber crop and the plants improve soil health and absorb CO2 during photosynthesis. That’s some powerful stuff – kinda like these collars!

Bowls

  • BecoBowl
    • The biodegradable BecoBowl is made from natural bamboo resin, which means that these bowls will stand up to dogs and the dishwasher for years to come. When it comes time to replace your bowl, just toss it in the compost bin instead of the landfill.

Poo Bags

  • Earthrated Poo Bags
    • Dog waste is an environmental hazard, so it’s important for us to clean up after our dogs. This almost always requires plastic bags, so we searched for the most responsible ones. We like Earthrated’s Poo Bags because they contain EPI, a chemical that breaks down plastic in the landfill. If you live in a city that accepts pet waste for compost, try their vegetable starch-based biodegradable bags.

Raw Green Tripe – Our Latest and Greatest Super Food!

Whenever I find a new health food, I want to know how it benefits me and how it’ll benefit my dog. A lot of the time, my dog and I indulge in the same health foods (like fish oil, chia seeds, and apple cider vinegar.) Right now, I’m super excited about raw green tripe, but it’s one super food that I’ll let my dog have all to herself!

Tripe is the stomach of ruminant (grazing) animals including sheep, bison, cows and venison. To get the benefits of tripe, you need the RAW GREEN stuff! (Not the bleached tripe found in grocery stores. That kind has been stripped of its color, smell and nutrients.)

Tripe has a lot to offer, but it’s one of the stinkiest foods I’ve found. I have to hold my breath when I serve it up to my dog, and she thinks it’s delicious!

The benefits of feeding green tripe include:

  • improved digestion
  • healthier skin & coat
  • improved immunity
  • healthier teeth and gums
  • rejuvenation for senior dogs
  • aids in transitioning to a new diet
  • entices picky dogs or dogs who’ve lost their appetite to eat

How does tripe provide all this goodness? Raw green tripe contains significant levels of digestive enzymes, amino acids and lactobacillus acidophilus. Let’s take a look at each:

Digestive enzymes help break down food into nutrients for the body to absorb.

  • Who needs them most? Dogs with pancreatitis, food allergies, older dogs, dogs who eat poo.

Amino acids are the building blocks of healthy muscles, organs and skin cells. Supplying complete amino acids in the diet rejuvenates the body.

  • Who needs them most? All dogs! Particularly, older animals, athletic dogs and growing puppies.

Lactobacillus acidophilus is a probiotic- one of the healthy bacteria that facilitate digestion in the intestines. Adding probiotics to the system works to “flood-out” bad bacteria from the digestive tract

  • Who needs it most? Dogs who have recently been on antibiotics, or have a weak or compromised immune system.

Want to see how tripe benefits your dog? We all feed our animals a little tripe, so we can help you find the best one for yours! At The Happy Beast, we carry green tripe in cans, freeze-dried or raw. K9 Natural’s raw and freeze-dried lamb tripe is easy to store (either in the freezer or in the cupboar.) Some dogs prefer the texture and smell of canned tripe. Tripett’s offers canned tripe from venison, beef, lamb and bison.