The primary benefit of fiber for dogs is weight management. Along with quality exercise, adding some fiber to your dog’s diet is the first step to shed off extra pounds. However, fiber also works to improve their overall gut and digestive health. Before diving in and adding loads of fiber content to your pup’s food, take a moment to create a good plan of attack. We will give you some of the best tips and information on fiber, fiber-full dog foods, plus cautions to keep an eye on. Your furbaby’s journey to an effective digestive tract starts here!
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The Benefits of Fiber for Dogs
Fiber plays an essential and necessary role for our dog’s overall health. Not only does fiber support the proper function of the digestive system, but it can also provide other surprising health benefits for your dog as well. Here are some advantages of adding fiber to your dog’s diet.
1. Aids in Digestion
As with us humans, fiber is a great nutrient for a dog’s digestive tract. Fiber is fermented into fatty acids by beneficial bacteria that is naturally found in your dog’s intestine. Those fatty acids help prevent the overgrowth of any bad bacteria and also helps the colon recover from injury.
Furthermore, fiber can also help reduce the risk of colon cancer in dogs because it reduces exposure of any harmful toxins your dog has consumed. Lastly, fiber can also reduce diarrhea and constipation symptoms if your dog is suffering from either.
2. Manages A Healthy Weight
If your dog is on a weight management program or needs to lose a few pounds, fiber is an excellent nutrient to do so. Obesity is a leading cause of many illnesses in dogs, but many pet owners don’t know how to control and maintain their dog’s weight. Fiber allows dogs to feel full while consuming less calories, so high fiber diets are often great for those trying to take weight off their dogs.
If your worried about switching your pup’s food, you can add healthy sources of fiber such as sweet potatoes, to your dog’s food, but provide less than normal portions. This will give them a healthy meal while consuming fewer calories and still feel full.
3. Improvement in Diabetes
Certain fibers slow digestion, which helps keeps blood-sugar levels from rising. This causes fewer fluctuations in the blood sugar of dogs who eat high fiber diets. This will help them maintain better management of their diabetes. Furthermore, veterinarians have found that fibers can reduce a dog’s sensitivity to insulin. In fact, most veterinarians put diabetic dogs on high-fiber diets.
4. Prevents Anal Gland Disease
Increasing fiber in your dog’s diet will also help to prevent anal gland disease. A way to tell if your pup is suffering from anal gland disease is to see if they are continuously dragging their rear on the floor, such as coarse surfaces. This is your dog trying to alleviate the pain they are experiencing. Adding more fiber to their diet causes larger stool, which helps to unclog their anal glands.
How Do I know when my Dog Needs More Fiber?
Most pet owners feed their dogs commercial pet foods, so the amount of fiber they ingest depends on the type of food your feeding them. There have been several brands of commercially food diets that lack fiber. A fiber-deficient diet will cause your pup to suffer from multiple symptoms. But, the question is: how do you know when your pup needs more fiber? Adding a ton of fiber can actually cause side effects. To safely add fiber, follow these 3 easy steps.
Step 1: Read their Food Label
The first step to figuring out if your pup needs more fiber is to read the back of their current bag or box of food. You will notice a small section (usually around the ingredients) that has an analysis with percentages. Most dog foods will contain at least 5% fiber, which is noted to be a healthy amount for an average dog.
Step 2: Observe your Dog
Even if your pup is getting a standard 5% of daily fiber intake, they may be showing signs of fiber deficiency for a variety of reasons. Take about 2 days to observe you dog’s bodily functions and behavior. Sometimes it may just be an upset tummy or anxiety due to change in routine. However, when the symptoms last more than a couple of days, proceed with a visit to the vet. The signs and symptoms of fiber deficiency include:
If your pup is having trouble with their bowel movements, or the stools are dry and hard, your dog may be constipated. This can cause pain and discomfort for your dog.
2. Weight Gain:
Without fiber, dogs may not feel satisfied from their meal and possibly eat more than their bodies need. This will cause them to gain weight and possibly become obese.
3. Blood Sugar Fluctuations:
If your dog has diabetes, it may be hard to control and regulate their blood sugar. Fiber will help to delay the absorption of sugar.
5. Nausea and Tiredness:
Dogs who eat pet foods that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates and fiber, it may lead to tiredness, weakness, and nausea. Dogs need dietary fibers to feel energized.
Step 3: Visit the Vet
Once you have observed your pet for a couple of days and the signs of fiber deficiency have persisted, it is time to make an appointment with the veterinarian. There, you can gain an expert opinion on what your furbaby is going through. If fiber deficiency is confirmed, you can then proceed to ask the advice of the vet for treatment. However, keep in mind that adding some fiber to your pup’s diet can be inexpensive with some simple at-home remedies. To read how you can add fiber to their diet, skip ahead to this section on How Do I Add Fiber to my Dog’s Diet?
The Two Kinds of Fiber Needed
To get all of the benefits fiber has to offer, dogs needs the two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Both come from plants are forms of carbohydrates. As fiber moves through your dog’s body, it slows down digestion and makes your stools softer and easier to pass. Most foods contain both insoluble and soluble fibers but usually contain more in one type than the other.
Soluble fiber absorbs water, turning into a gel-like mush (think of oatmeal). Foods rich in soluble fiber such as nuts, beans, apples, carrots, oatmeal, and blueberries provide many health benefits, which include:
- Heart protection
- Diabetes protection
- Weight loss
- Healthy bowel movements
Soluble fiber helps soften stool so it can slide through dog’s GI tract more easily. It also binds to substances such as cholesterol and sugar, which prevents or slows their absorption into the blood. Additionally, soluble fiber boosts the population of good bacteria in the guy, which is proven to boost their immunity, provide anti-inflammatory effects, and even enhance their mood.
Insoluble fibers are found in whole grains, nuts, and fruits and vegetables. It can’t be broken down by the gut and absorbed into the bloodstream. It also adds bulk to their waste, which helps to keep them regular and prevent bathroom problems. Benefits of insoluble fiber include:
- Preventing constipation
- Lowering the risk of diverticular disease
- Reduces hemorrhoid pain and discomfort
How to Add Fiber to a dog's diet
If you feel your dog needs more fiber added to their diet, you should start by checking their current food and see the levels of fiber already provided. Most pet foods contain about 5% crude fiber, and this is often good for the average healthy dog. However, if your pup is suffering from fiber deficiency symptoms, here are some helpful ways to provide additional fiber.
Homemade Fiber Additions
When attempting to add fiber to your dog’s diet, there are a couple key tips we would like to pass on. This will ensure the process is both safe and effective for your furbaby. Humans can easily add fiber to their diet with foods like grains and corn. However, these foods are not good for dogs. Dogs have shorter intestinal tracts than humans, so these types of foods can cause gas and bloat. For a full list of foods that are harmful to dogs, check out this Toxic Food Guide For Dogs. Luckily, there are plenty of wholesome foods that your pup can safely eat to enhance their fiber intake.
The easiest and quickest method is to use grated carrots and apples; mixing them into your dog’s existing wet or dry food. In particular, raw carrots and apples are low in calories, low in fat, and help cleanse your pup’s digestive tract to promote healthy regularity. Carrots are especially high in Vitamin A, which famously helps to improve eye-health. For more information on the benefits of carrots for your dog, head on over to Are Carrots Safe for Dogs?
A second, proven wholesome food that is packed full of fiber and solidifies loose stool: pumpkin. In the fall season, pumpkin is absolutely everywhere you look and you might as well get ahold of some for your dog too! You can safely use fresh, cooked, or canned pumpkin; as long as there are no added ingredients, preservatives, or spices. Additionally, this magical digestive cure-all is 90% water; which is absolutely essentially to keeping your pup regular and on-track. For more information on the wonders of pumpkin for your pup, check out this article on Can My Dog Eat Pumpkin?
Switch to a High-Fiber Dog Food
Many dog food companies include a formula or two that is specifically high in fiber. Purchasing one is a quick and easy way to add fiber to your pup’s diet without having to fiddle with homemade ingredients. However, you should always test a small amount of a new dog food on your dog before purchasing in bulk. Mix a tiny bit of the new food with the old food and observe how your dog reacts to it. Some dogs react poorly to a new dog food or simply do not like the taste and will not eat it.
Your dog’s body needs time to adjust any food changes, so it’s best to work a new dog food in gradually. Start by feeding your dog their original food and add a little bit each day of the new food to their bowl. Based upon research, customer reviews, price point, and comparison with other options; these are the top two high-fiber dog foods on the market today.
1. Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Reduced Fat Dog Food
Wellness CORE dog foods are one of the best products for a grain free, reduced fat recipe. This recipe features a ton of nutritious ingredients that is a great option for dogs who need a high-fiber diet. Not only is it great to add more fiber, but it also helps manage dog’s weight by using real meat.
2. NUTRO Weight Loss Dry Dog Food
NUTRO’s Weight Loss Recipe is packed with fiber foods and is made with real chicken and real lamb. It is formulated to help dogs lose weight in a safe healthy way without cutting out essential nutrients.
Provide Fresh Water
Whether you choose to use homemade fiber additions or store-bought fiber-full dog food, having clean and fresh drinking water nearby for your dog is essential. Water provides digestive-track lubrication so your furbaby can pass their meals regularly and without struggle. Without enough water intake, your dog is going to experience some pretty uncomfortable constipation. It can be found naturally in fruits and veggies, but always keep their water bowl full on the side. If you do not already have a trusted dog water bowl, we highly recommend checking out this article on The Best Cooling Water Bowls. In the end, cooling water bowls are incredibly useful throughout the year to keep your dog drinking refreshing water.
Potential Side Effects of a High Fiber Diet
Even though a diet with fiber is very important for your dog’s health, there is such a thing as too much fiber. Additionally, a sudden change from a low fiber diet to an extremely high fiber diet may cause dogs to suffer from: