While we understand the benefits of a high fiber diet for humans, many pet owners wonder if there is any benefit in using fiber for dogs as well. We’ve been told that fiber, in the form of fillers and bulk, in dog food, made for a low quality dog food. But does that mean we shouldn’t get a dog food that is high in fiber?
What is Fiber
First, let’s discuss what fiber is. It is part of the carbohydrates family and comes in two categories, soluble (digestible) and insoluble (un-digestible). Following is a high level look of how fiber is used in the body. Insoluble fiber just goes through the body. It is often referred to as a broom that sweeps stuff out of the body. It is very healthy to have some insoluble fiber in a diet. Soluble fiber is used through the intestines and can either absorb more water for the intestines if constipated, or remove water from the intestines if there is diarrhea.
Just like with people, your dog can definitely benefit from proper amounts of fiber in their diet. Too much fiber can have negative effects, as too little can as well. If you have concerns about whether you are feeding too little or too much fiber, talk to your veterinarian or consult with a dog nutrition specialist.
Fiber and Weight
More and more pets are becoming obese along with their owners. Less exercise and eating too many calories are a dog’s enemy as well as ours. Increasing the fiber in your dog’s diet is a great way to help your dog to lose weight. Heavier dogs are more prone to joint problems, which keeps them in pain. Keeping your dog at their optimal size increases the quality of their life and even the length of their life. And while fiber, on its own, cannot make your dog lose weight, it can help with the right amount of calories and some moderate exercise. The great thing about feeding dog food high in fiber is that it helps to keep them feeling full for longer without adding in many calories. Many weight control brands now have low fat, high fiber dog food to help dogs drop a few pounds without making them feel deprived.
Once your pet gets to the desired weight, they may still need some extra fiber to maintain that their optimal size. Portion control, increasing fiber, and cutting out daily dog treats will help you keep your dog on a healthy diet that is still satisfying for your dog.
Fiber and Constipation
Constipation is another problem that affects many of our pets. A high fiber diet for dogs can help prevent this problem from ever happening. The natural aging process is also connected to constipation, as veterinarians see more older dogs with these problems than the younger dogs. This is also a reason why many senior dog diets have higher fiber content.
As stated above, fiber can absorb water into the intestines, which bulks up the contents in the intestines. This bulking up is what moves the waste through the intestinal tract. With increased fiber, the movement becomes more regular. The proper amounts of fiber in your dog’s diet will help with fecal consistency, that is not too loose or too hard. This is achieved when your dog has regular bowel movements and should happen within an hour after eating. Too much or too little fiber will result in either constipation and hard, small stools, or very loose and watery stools. Your dog should not have to strain in the least if they have the proper amount of fiber in their diet.
Other Notes On Fiber For Dogs
Studies have been performed that indicate that feeding a dog food high in fiber can help manage diabetes mellitus by helping control blood sugar levels. Fiber naturally slows the absorption of sugar from the intestine. Therefore, do not be surprised if your vet recommends increasing the fiber in your dog’s diet to help with diabetes mellitus.
Just like with people, too much fiber can be as bad as too little. Because of this, it really is important that you look at dog food companies that are highly reputable and use high quality ingredients. By-products are not how your dog should be getting their fiber. Look at the dog food ingredients label to check the kind of ingredients that are being used. The more whole, or unprocessed, any of the ingredients are, the better.
When used in the proper amounts for your particular dog, fiber definitely does have benefits. If you feel like your dog is either getting too much or too little fiber in their diet, talk to your vet or a dog nutritionist for advice on fiber for dogs.