High Fiber Dog Food: The Healthy Digestive Diet For Your Dog
- Do dogs need fiber?
- What is fiber?
- How much fiber should a dog have in its diet?
- How can I add more fiber to my dog’s diet?
- High fiber dog food for anal gland problems
- High fiber dog food for diabetic dogs
- High fiber dog food for Colitis
High fiber dog food is important to keep the dog’s digestive tract healthy. In this article, we will discuss if dogs need fiber and how much, types as well as high fiber food for dogs with anal gland problems, diabetes, and colitis.
Do dogs need fiber?
Yes, they absolutely do! Here’s how a high fiber diet can be beneficial to your dog.
Benefits of high fiber diet for dogs
The following are the advantages of feeding your dog a high fiber diet:
- Fiber helps to increase bulk to regulate dogs’ bowel and absorb additional water to produce stools that are firm and formed.
- It treats constipation or diarrhea in dogs.
- Fiber maintains a healthy pH in the intestines and inhibits the growth of unwanted bacteria in dogs’ gut.
- It helps dogs to maintain a healthy weight. Fiber allows dogs to feel full with less caloric intake so the portion of food given can be decreased healthily.
- Fiber assists the slowing down of sugar absorption in the intestines to maintain healthy blood sugar levels in diabetic dogs.
- It improves colon health and decreases the likelihood of colon cancer.
- Fiber aids dog defecation by making it easier and faster, thus reducing the holding time of carcinogenic foods in the intestinal tract.
- It decreases tartar and dental plaque accumulation
- It plays a role in maintaining an optimal level of blood cholesterol.
What is fiber?
Fiber refers to a kind of carbohydrate indigestible by the body that usually has little to no nutritional value. You can only obtain fiber from plant-based ingredients - mainly whole fruits and vegetables, beans and whole grains.
Soluble fiber absorbs a lot of water and ferments in the colon to secrete gas as it passes through. These instances can be overcomed through introduction in small portions or gradual increment of soluble fiber in your dog’s diet.
The fermentation of soluble fiber happens at different rates. Its fermentation ability allows the gut bacteria to use the soluble fiber to produce nutrients for both the bacteria and the cell lining of the colon. While the fermentability of the soluble fibre is beneficial to gut health, excessiveness will affect digestion and cause excess gas production as well as gastrointestinal discomfort.
Examples of fiber sources that ferment slowly are cellulose and peanut hulls whereas sources that ferment a little quicker include pectin, soy or bran fibre. A common fiber source in dog food like beef pulp takes the middle position.
All in all, it is best to have a combination of different types of soluble fiber as an excessive amount of fast-moving fiber can result in diarrhea.
Although insoluble fiber also absorbs water in a relatively small amount, it does not ferment in the colon. Insoluble fiber can treat dogs’ constipation by absorbing water to create larger and softer stools. The muscle contraction of the dog’s colon will be stimulated by the larger stools, helping it to defecate easily.
Not only that, insoluble fiber also plays a vital role in a dog's colon when it experiences diarrhea by absorbing any excess water. Then, the fermentation of soluble fiber helps to balance the colon’s level of acidity and create an increased amount of friendly bacteria.
How much fiber should a dog have in its diet?
The amount of fibre that a normal adult dog requires in its diet is between 2.5% to 4.5%. Nonetheless, the amount of fiber a dog needs increases with age since the tendency for constipation is higher in senior dogs as opposed to younger ones.
For dogs that require weight management, the content of fiber needed is higher so that their portion of food can be decreased while maintaining a low calorie intake.
Thus, it is best to consult a veterinarian before including more fiber in your dog’s diet as each dog’s needs varies.
How can I add more fiber to my dog’s diet?
When you try to add more fiber to your dog’s diet, be sure to do it gradually over a period of 5 to 7 days to allow your dog’s digestive system to adapt. If the transition is done too abruptly, your dog may experience gastrointestinal upset in the form of diarrhea, vomiting or decreased appetite. Thus, you should monitor its response to the new diet by observing the stool quality. Check out this article for all you need to know about dog poop.
Look for nutritious sources like fresh produce and whole grains. Avoid refined grains such as wheat and corn that may cause stomach sensitivity. Some of the common fiber sources you could add to your dog’s diet include:
Apple slices make good high-fiber treats, but do note that the core or seeds should not be given to your dogs. Apple is a good choice as it could also help to clean canine teeth and is low in calories.
You can feed your dog with pureed pumpkin or pumpkin slices.
Beet pulp is a byproduct of sugar beet processing and is colourless, stringy as well as easily digested.
Brown rice is an excellent source of fiber and mixes well with other high fiber vegetables for a healthy dog meal.
Either ground flaxseed or flaxseed meal can be added to a dog’s diet. Flaxseed has 28g of total dietary fiber per 100g, including 9g of soluble fibre. The insoluble fiber fraction, which is made up of lignin25, cellulose and hemicellulose, has a strong capacity to bind water and increase bulk to diet, thus helpful for dogs with digestive disorders.
Blueberries and Strawberries
Blueberries and strawberries have high antioxidants and are natural fiber sources. However, do feed your dog with these in moderation due to their high natural sugar content.
Other vegetables like carrots, green lettuce, kelp, and green beans are high-fiber food.
High fiber dog food for anal gland problems
Do you know that dogs have scent glands on both sides of their anus? Yes! The dog’s anal glands will secrete oil during defecation that gives a unique scent to the feces. Dogs mark territories with the scent and as a form of social interaction whereby the dogs sniff one another’s butt to know each other.
However, the dogs’ anal glands can get clogged when the scented liquid is not secreted during defecation and this will eventually cause infection. Dogs with anal gland problems will also feel discomfort and pain.
Feeding your dog with high fiber food can help by creating bigger stools that press against affected glands to release the stools and empty the anal glands.
High fiber dog food for diabetic dogs
When a diabetic dog adopts a high fiber diet, the large amount of insoluble fiber will slow down digestion thus preventing spikes in its blood sugar level.
If you are interested to find out more on the topic of diabetes in dogs, you can refer to these articles, which you would find insightful:
- Diabetic dog food that will help you manage your dog’s diabetes
- Dog Diabetes Causes and Treatments
- Coping With The Final Stages of Dog Diabetes - The Best Course of Action For Your Pet
- Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs - Watch Out for These Signs!
High fiber dog food for Colitis
Colitis in dogs occurs when they have chronic diarrhea but the reasons are unknown.
For dogs with colitis, it is helpful to introduce a variation of the amount of fiber in their diet depending on their needs. When you increase the amount of fibre in your dog’s diet, it can aid in binding bile acids and avoid bacterial deconjugation of the acids. If the bile acids are deconjugated, they are considered as toxic to the colonic mucosa. This not only increases the fluid secretion and permeability in the colon, but also stimulates the output of mucus.
By adding insoluble fiber such as cellulose to a dog with colitis’ diet, it helps to bind water to produce softer and better formed faeces. This results in the stretching of the smooth muscle of the colon that in turn restores peristalsis to normal and decreases straining of the colon.
Some sources of the soluble fibers such as soya fiber and pectin that are fermented into Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs) can provide your dog with colitis with the above mentioned benefits.
It is also helpful to read this article to find out how to firm up dog poop if your dog experiences colitis.
Whether it is for health reasons or weight management benefits, introducing high fiber dog food to your dog’s diet is generally beneficial to its digestive system. However, do remember to introduce the new food in a gradual manner to prevent complications. Always consult your vet before making any changes to your dog’s diet.