Fiber for Dogs

Bonus Benefits of Fiber for Dogs

While it’s not considered a nutrient like vitamins and minerals, fiber is an important part of your dog’s diet because it helps support healthy digestion. However, some ingredients that are high in fiber content can also provide bonus benefits when they are included as part of a complete and balanced dog’s diet.

High-fiber dog foods are increasingly common, but what does it mean to be one of the many fiber-rich foods on the market? How important is fiber for dogs, anyway? Should you add fiber to your dog’s diet? And are there other ways to get more fiber in a dog’s diet? Read on for everything you need to know about why dogs need fiber, what is good fiber for dogs and what to look for in a dog food.

What Is Good Fiber for Dogs?

Fiber for dogs is important, but there are different kinds of fiber. What sort of fiber should be in your dog food, and what makes a dog’s food “rich” in fiber?
There are two types of fiber — soluble fiber and insoluble fiber — in pet food ingredients. Soluble fiber, as the name suggests, is water soluble (absorbs water) and turns into a gel-like substance that slows down food digestion. Insoluble fiber does not absorb water, but it does help stimulate intestinal motility (food movement through the intestines).
Good, balanced sources of soluble fiber and insoluble fiber include beet pulp, tomato pomace, psyllium seed husk, green beans and pea fiber, among others. Fermentable dietary fibers are also a type of prebiotic, as they promote the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria in the large intestine.

Energy Source for Intestinal Cells

The gastrointestinal tract is populated with trillions of bacteria, fungi, viruses and other single-celled microbes that are collectively known as the intestinal microbiota. The microbiota helps break down some components of food, such as fiber, which would otherwise not be used.

Bacteria in the large intestine ferment some dietary fibers, such as tomato pomace, dried beet pulp and dried chicory root, to produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that can be used by intestinal cells for energy. SCFAs can modify intestinal movements and the passage of food through the digestive system. Dietary fiber also encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon and affects the pH of the colon.

Dog Food and Fiber and Flatulence

OK, so this is probably not a bonus benefit of fiber, but it’s still worth mentioning. While some products of fermentation are used as nutrients, the process can also be responsible for some stinky situations. When bacteria in the large intestine ferment fiber and complex carbohydrates from food, they produce gases. Some gas production is normal and nothing to worry about.
Food-related cases of excessive gas tend to be caused by high-fiber dog foods or diets that are poorly digested by dogs or cats. Food that is lower in digestibility allows more nutrients to enter the large intestine, where bacteria and other microorganisms use the nutrients for food, making large amounts of gas as a byproduct. Many pet foods are designed to be highly digestible, and feeding a high-quality diet can help decrease pet flatulence.

Stool Quality

This is another topic that is a little “on the nose,” but fiber in dog food does help regulate stool consistency. Fiber can help avoid constipation by promoting the production of regular, firm stools. For older animals that are more prone to developing constipation, a food with increased fiber may be beneficial.

Fiber Benefits for Diabetic Dogs

A food that’s high in complex carbohydrates and that contains adequate fiber may be recommended by veterinarians for diabetic dogs. Complex carbohydrates slow food movement through the digestive system, while fiber delays stomach emptying and carbohydrate absorption in the small intestine. As a result, glucose is released slowly and evenly into the bloodstream and the post-meal spike in blood glucose is reduced.

A diabetic dog that is well controlled on insulin and is a normal weight may be fine on complete and balanced over-the-counter foods that are appropriate for the dog’s age and health. It’s important to consult your vet to make sure a diabetic dog is receiving the nutrition they need.

Other Fiber Bonus Benefits

For dogs that need a little help in the weight management department, a high-fiber dog food diet can help. Weight management diets tend to be formulated with more fiber as they improve satiety (the sense of feeling full).

Cats that are having hairball issues can also benefit from fiber. Cat food formulated specifically to control hairballs like Diamond Naturals Indoor Cat Chicken & Rice Formula are high in insoluble fiber to help move swallowed hair through the digestive tract.

Pet Food Fiber Sources

Fiber can come from a number of different ingredients in your pet’s food, including ancient grains, fruits, vegetables like green beans, and plants. Below are some examples of ingredients in Diamond Pet Food formulas that are a source of fiber to help support healthy digestion, as well as having other bonus benefits.

How Much Fiber Makes a Dog Food a High-Fiber Food?

A typical dog food contains 2-4 percent fiber, but if you’re looking to add fiber to your dog’s diet, there are “low- calorie” foods out there with a fiber content of 9-10 percent. They’re a good way of adding fiber to a diet for senior dogs (or not-so-senior dogs) without using fiber supplements, but there is such a thing as too much soluble and insoluble fibers, so consult your veterinarian before switching to high-fiber diets.

Sources of Fiber in Diamond Pet Foods

The information in this blog has been developed with a Diamond Pet Food veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet’s health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.

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