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

Reference

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

22 thoughts on “A Word About Pancreatic Enzyme Supplements

  1. The Pancre Plus has helped our German Shepard tremendously! It will be a life time medicine for her! So happy with Vet Rx…..they have saved us money and our Heidi’s life!

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  3. I see the article regarding enzyme replacements were specific to dogs. I have a 14 year old cat that is just recovering from pancreatitis but I want to do want I can for him. Can you point me in the right direction for cats? Any advice you can offer I would truly be grateful for. Thank you!

    • I’m also seeking help for my cat who has pancreatitis.

      My vet says enzymes are not for this and pancreatitis is different, real confusing. What I’m reading though is benefits in digestive enzymes and change of food. I’ve always fed Welness wet canned turkey.

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  5. I have not done the math to compare your price for Panakare tablets to what I paid for them today at the vets office. I got 30 tablets for $15.00, so 50 cents each. Whenever I hope to get meds from an outside source, my vet charges $20.00 to approve the script, making it not worth trying to save money.

    If my dog takes two 450mg tablets a day, how much powder does that mean she would need?

  6. My cat has EPI and will not eat his food with Panzquin in it. Looking for samples of other brands or smaller portions. Any suggestions? Thanks

    • Melody, have you found an alternative or way to coax your kitty to eat. Our Julian has been on the panzquin for nearly a year. He spreads his food all over the place trying not to smell the enzymes. We have put flavorings, cream and cat sure in with the food to try to help. Cream seems to work slightly better but then 5e uneaten food goes bad after a few hours. The good thing is that he is still here but always on the edge of starvation
      Robin

        • You are very lucky. My cat was just diagnosed with EPI and she HATES pancreplus powder! She was also diagnosed with diabetes 6 months ago, so I need her to eat! Has anybody had luck with the tablets instead of the powder for cats?

  7. Our Corgi, Yoda, has been on pancreatic enzymes – powder form only – from the time he was diagnosed with EPI in 2010. At that time we were seeing a small town vet whom we preferred and our furry family members were patients of for years. This vet’s office had never seen a Corgi with EPI and Yoda’s diagnosis came as a surprise to everyone. We have found that with his pancreatic enzyme medication and a low fat content dog food his EPI has been relatively easy to manage. A Corgi with EPI living a healthy, active lifestyle at the ripe old age of 10 isn’t super common but that’s who we’ve got in our family and we feel so fortunate.

    The brand of powder we prefer is VetOne PancrePlus.

    I hope all of the furry family members out there receive the help and medication they need to stay healthy and happy.

  8. I started my dog on the pills but my vet recommended the powder. Now after five or so years on the powder she’s getting small but persistent sores on the bottom outside of her mouth. Vet recommends swabbing each side of her mouth with water after she eats. I also put a little anabiotic on it. I am at a loss for wwhat I can do since she must have the enzymes. Any thoughts would be appreciated. I do soak the food to room temperature but I’ve also read that this is not proven to be necessary.

    • We had a similar problem years ago with our dog who has been on powder for more than 11 years the key is to mix it well in with the food . some people put the powder on top and then it comes to directly in contact with the mouth, if you mix it in well with the food and wait 5 minutes before you give it to them there is less direct contact and we had no more sores in the mouth.

  9. 8 yr old Irish Setter has EPI. Presented with pancreatitis with subsequent symptoms and diagnosis of EPI. She is currently on 200mg pentoxifylline 2xday.
    Started with Pancrezyme, then Epizyme. Always powder and always 1tsp per feeding. Soak kibble first then add boiled/drained ground turkey and brown rice to Hills digestive care low fat. Dr gave sample of PancrePlus. Noticed reduced digestive issues immediately. Issues were gas and bloating. Had been treating with 1/8 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt 3-4 x week. All went away with PancrePlus powder.

  10. I absolutely cannot get my cat to take the pancreplus powder. I have tried everything that others have suggested.

    Is there a different strength in the pills? The pills are a last resort.

    • My cat is the same. Our last resort was for me to hand make his medication in capsule form. I use size 0 capsules and pack them (with the help of ‘The Capsule Maker’) with the Epizyme powder. It’s kinda messy and time consuming but it’s all I can do to give him the powder. I just pop the pills in his mouth. He probably doesn’t get quite the amount he should, and it’s not mixed with food, but it works. Hope this helps!

  11. My cat is the same. Our last resort was for me to hand make his medication in capsule form. I use size 0 capsules and pack them (with the help of ‘The Capsule Maker’) with the Epizyme powder. It’s kinda messy and time consuming but it’s all I can do to give him the powder. I just pop the pills in his mouth. He probably doesn’t get quite the amount he should, and it’s not mixed with food, but it works. Hope this helps!

  12. I recently changed my Maltese from Vio Kase to pancre plus due to cost. I thought ingredients were the same. But after reading here I’m worried I did the wrong thing. She’s been on the pancre plus now for almost 2 weeks now, and starting to poop in large amounts again. I am really worried. Any feed back would be appreciated.

  13. Why is the powder out of stock on all the web sites it’s been out of stock all over Britain and yet my vet can still get it but charge me double the price I can get it online

  14. What are the side affects from taking the pancreas enzyme? My dog seems to sleep right after eating and she is very thirsty. She is also diabetic. Does it change her blood sugar levels? She looks like maybe it makes her feel like throwing up. What is this about sores in their mouth. I was not told that would or could happen. Don’t know if I should continue. Please inform me. Thank you

  15. I have a German shepherd with EPI.I have been treating her with Panakare Plus powder for almost 3 years.She also has to get B 12 shots a few times a year as hers is low. I know it’s working as her blood draws are usually good but an hour after she eats and for 8-10 hours after that she has a very hard time breathing and she gags almost all night. Tried the tablets but it they doesn’t work for her. She has diarrhea with the tablets but her breathing is fine!? So frustrating! My dilemma is do I give her the pills and she doesn’t absorb the needed vitamins or give her the powder and she gags and breaths like she is running a marathon?

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