A Word About Pancreatic Enzyme Supplements

If you’re a companion to a pet that requires supplementing pancreatic enzymes, then you probably understand how confusing and expensive the pancreatic enzyme supplements can be. The large investment in pancreatic enzyme supplements, alone, is a motivation for the desire to have them to be efficient but their activity is crucial  for your pets to be healthy and happy. This article is aimed at helping you understand the enzymes, the cost of them, and the disease behind them, so you can get the best results from them while possibly saving money.

Why are pancreatic enzyme supplements for dogs used?

Normally, the pancreas produces enzymes that digest food and allow nutrients to be absorbed. Sometimes the pancreas can’t produce the enzymes needed to help your pet digest their food.The formal name for this disease is Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency and it is often abbreviated as EPI. It can be more common in German Shepherds, Rough Collies, and Chow Chows.  The medication used to treat EPI is often a supplement of pancreatic enzymes that act like the ones your pet would usually make themselves.

What are pancreatic enzyme supplements for dogs?

The pancreas produces three major enzymes: amylase, lipase, and protease. Amylase breaks down carbohydrates, protease breaks down protein, and lipase breaks down fats. This breakdown is necessary for all three of these dietary nutrients to be absorbed and put to use in the body. The majority of prescription pancreatic enzymes are extracts from pigs. They can come in tablets and in powders. Some products also contain vitamins A, D3, and E. Your veterinarian will decide if your pet needs the extra vitamins or not.

Are there differences between brands of pancreatic enzyme supplements for dogs?

There are two main categories of pancreatic enzyme products: ones that contain the enzymes only, and ones that contain enzymes and vitamins. They can be further divided into tablets and powders which both contain the same ingredients when made by the same manufacturer, but in different ratios. Many questions have been raised about if the tablets and powders are equally effective and if you should pre-incubate the pancreatic enzymes (let them come to room temperature before feeding them). The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine reports that pre-incubating the enzymes has no statistical significance in studies, and may be unnecessary. They also state that tablets and enteric coated products may have decreased efficacy. This is likely because the powders can coat the food better, which is the whole point of the enzymes; They need to be in contact with the food to break it down, and a tablet doesn’t reach a large volume of food, as compared to the powder. You could think about trying to flavor popcorn: shaking a flavored powder over the bowl of popcorn will coat more pieces and make it more flavorful, whereas putting a tablet of flavor will only coat a few pieces. This isn’t to say that all pets are candidates for powder pancreatic enzymes but if you have tried the tablets with no success, it may be beneficial to try the powder. It is ultimately the veterinarian’s decision which is best for each case, just be informed about the options.

How do the prices compare between the pancreatic enzyme supplements available through VetRxDirect?

Powders containing pancreatic enzymes only: Pancrezyme Powder, Viokase-V powder, and Epizyme powder: All three of these contain 71,400 units of lipase, 388,000 units of protease, and 460,000 units of amylase per teaspoonful. VetRxDirect’s current cost per teaspoon for each of these medications are:

  • Epizyme 8oz = $0.92
  • Epizyme 12oz = $0.95
  • Epizyme 4 oz = $1.20
  • Pancrezyme 12 oz= $1.57
  • Pancrezyme 8oz = $1.65
  • Viokase –V 12oz = $2.10
  • Viokase-V  8 oz= $2.18

Tablets containing pancreatic enzymes only: Pancrezyme tablets : These tablets are similar to the powder above, but they contain 9,000 units of lipase, 57,000 units of protease, and 64,000 units of amylase per teaspoonful. VetRx Direct’s current price per tablet is:

  • Pancrezyme tablet: $0.26

Powders containing pancreatic enzymes and vitamins: PancrePlus powder, Panakare Plus powder, and PancreVed powder. All three of these contain vitamins and 71,400 units of lipase, 388,000 units of protease, and 460,000 units of amylase per teaspoonful. VetRx Direct’s current price per teaspoon is:

  • PancreVed 12oz: $0.99
  • PanaKare Plus 12 oz: $1.01
  • PancreVed 8oz: $1.04
  • PanaKare Plus 8 oz: $1.04
  • PancrePlus 12oz: $1.07
  • PancrePlus 8oz: $1.13
  • PancreVed 4 oz: $1.14
  • PanaKare Plus 4 oz: $1.26
  • PancrePlus 4oz: $1.28

Tablets containing pancreatic enzymes and vitamins: PancrePlus tablets, PanaKare tablets, and PancreVed tablets. All three of these contain vitamins and 9,000 units of lipase, 57,000 units of protease, and 64,000 units of amylase. VetRx Direct’s current price per tablet is:

  • PancrePlus 500ct: $0.16
  • PanaKare Plus 500ct: $0.16
  • PancreVed 500 ct: $0.18
  • PanaKare Plus 100 ct: $0.22
  • PancrePlus 100 ct: $0.23
  • PancreVed 100 ct: $0.25

Pancreatic Enzyme Supplements for Dogs from VetRxDirect Pet Pharmacy

It’s all in the math for pancreatic enzyme supplements:

To find the difference in prices between the tablets and powders, a comparison between their concentrations must be made. The powders are much more concentrated than the tablets. In the enzyme only products and the enzyme plus vitamins, the powder-to-tablet enzyme concentration ratios (powder:tablet) for lipase, protease and amylase are 7.9:1, 6.8:1, and  7.18:1, respectively. So one teaspoonful is approximately 7 time more concentrated than one tablet. You could also think that it would take approximately 7 tablets to equal 1 teaspoon of the powder. If you multiply the price of the tablets by seven, then you get a rough comparative cost of the tablets to the powders.

For example:

  • Pancrezyme tablets = $0.26 x  7 =  $1.82
  • Pancrezyme 12 oz powder = $1.57

By using the Pancrezyme powder instead of the Pancrezyme tablet you could save $0.25 per teaspoonful that you use.  Let’s say that you are supposed to give one teaspoonful three times a day: you would save $0.75 per day. That could be $273.75 per year. Over ten years you could save $2,737.50, all because you were informed and proactive about your pet’s pancreatic enzyme supplements.

The take-home message about pancreatic enzyme supplements:

      While the decision on what product to use is ultimately up to your veterinarian and you, it is important to be informed about the options out there. It is important to discuss the efficacy of the powder and tablets with your veterinarian, and what they think would the best option for your pet.  The money that can be saved by switching to a cheaper product or by switching to powder form can save a large amount of money. However, you should be aware that some veterinarians like to start with more expensive products to stabilize your pet and then try the cheaper options, and there may be clinical differences between different manufacturers and how they get the enzymes.The purpose of this article is to educate pet owners about the pancreatic enzyme products and the long term costs that can accumulate from purchasing the more expensive products. We hope that reading this article has informed you about pancreatic enzymes, and that you (and your pet) can both be happy.

Is your dog on Pancreatic Enzymes? Does your dog take the powder? Which brand do you prefer? Please leave any comments below. Thank you.

Abigail Maas

VetRxDirect Pet Pharmacy Pharmacist Intern


Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI).” American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 9 Jan. 2013. Web. 29 Mar. 2014.