It is common knowledge that a fiber rich diet (or at least a diet containing fiber) is good news for us as humans. We know all about how it helps with bowel movement and such. But not everybody knows about the benefits of high fiber dog food to dogs.
What foods are rich in fiber and what should you be feeding your dog? What are the benefits of a high fiber dog food? Are foods that have a high fiber content a good thing and should we even be feeding them to our dogs?
These are some of the questions that you will have answers to by the time you are done with this article. Just be sure to stick with us.
The fiber we refer to in this article is not the cloth kind but the dietary kind. So we are discussing dietary fiber which is sometimes referred to as roughage. Now that we’ve cleared that up, what is dietary fiber?
Wikipedia refers to it as that part of plant-based food that digestive enzymes cannot breakdown completely. There are basically two types of dietary fiber:
- Soluble Fiber: This is fiber that can be dissolved in water. It can easily be fermented inside the colon. Plus, it helps delay gastric emptying and that is why someone that eats fiber rich food feels full for longer.
- Insoluble Fiber: This is fiber that can’t be dissolved in water. Instead of dissolving in water it absorbs water on its way through the digestive system. It is in this way that it eases bowel movement.
From our explanation of what dietary fiber is, it is easy to deduce that fibers help one feel full for longer and also help to cure constipation and ease defecation.
Why High Fiber Dog Food Is A Good Idea
High Fiber Dog Food does not provide your dog with any nutritional value per se. However, it has some important roles it plays in your dog’s overall health. They include:
Feeling of Fullness
As we’ve explained earlier, soluble fiber helps delay gastric emptying, giving your dog a sense of fullness. That means, with a diet that is high in fiber, your dog does not need to eat so much to be full.
A little bit of food containing all the proper nutrients and a good quantity of fiber, and he is good. This saves you a bit of money if you really think about it.
High fiber dog food also helps dogs lose weight. Most parents of obese and overweight dogs already know to reduce their dog’s carb intake. However, a good weight loss dog food does not just feature less carbs but also high fiber.
The logic behind this is that carbs make your dog feel full but also make him susceptible to issues with overweight and obesity. This is because it contains an ungodly amount of calories.
Fiber on the other hand, makes your dog feel full but does not come with the susceptibility that carbs come with. Because it has fewer calories.
Removing carbs from or reducing the carbs in your dog’s diet might remove/reduce his susceptibility to being overweight and/or obese. But you will always have one heck of a hungry dog.
So the solution could be to replace the carb removed with something that is filling and yet won’t make your dog fat. Hence, fiber.
For dogs living with diabetes, fiber helps to stabilize the glucose level. Soluble fibers slow down digestion while insoluble fibers make food digest at the normal pace. This thereby helps to keep the blood sugar level stable.
It is common practice for veterinarians to put diabetic dogs on high fiber dog food too. But the good news is, it doesn’t just help diabetic dogs. It could also help reduce a non-diabetic dog’s chances of coming down with diabetes.
One other benefit of high fiber dog food is that it takes care of the colon. There are two basic problems that are colon related that dogs (and humans too) can have.
The two problems are actually opposites of each other; constipation (difficulty in doing number 2) and diarrhea (the frequent “doing” of number 2).
Fiber takes care of the two problems. Soluble fiber delays gastric emptying thereby taking care of the diarrhea problem.
Insoluble fiber on the other hand, attaches itself to the other food nutrients and absorbs water too. This allows food digest easily and waste come out freely.
The Proper High Fiber Dog Food
In talking about high fiber dog food, we do not refer to food whose fiber level is higher than any other nutrient in the food. Remember that fiber doesn’t necessarily have an energy value. It is basically about “helping out” the other nutrients.
Certapet tells us that while regular dog food contains fiber within the ranges of 2% and 4%, high fiber dog food contains fiber that is within the ranges of 6% and 10%.
So what are we saying? There is such a thing as “too high fiber” quantity and that is fiber quantity that is higher than 10%.
Be sure to check the label. It should show the ingredients used in the feed with their corresponding quantities. So why shouldn’t the high fiber in high fiber dog food be too high?
Why The High Fiber In High Fiber Dog Food Shouldn’t Be Too High
If you prepare a proper high fiber dog food or buy a proper one it shouldn’t have any side effects whatsoever. However, if the fiber content is too high, some of the issues you could be dealing with include:
- Colitis: Colitis is basically the inflammation of the colon. The idea behind high fiber dog food is that the fiber takes care of your dog’s colon. However, when the fiber becomes too much, it begins to work against the colon.
There is just too much fiber activity going on in there and the colon can’t just keep up.
Colitis can also occur if you, as a dog parent, just switch your dog to a high fiber diet without warning. It will be too much of a fiber shock to your dog’s colon.
So even if you have the appropriate level of high, introduce high fiber dog food to your dog gradually.
- Diarrhea: Yup, too much fiber can turn around to cause the problem it is supposed to stop. So, while high fiber dog food will help stop diarrhea, too much fiber in dog food will encourage diarrhea.
- Increased Appetite: It shows that that too much fiber will destroy all the work that high fiber dog food would have done. So as the dog continues to have diarrhea, he keeps getting hungrier.
So instead of the fiber keeping him feeling full for a long time, it makes him eject the contents of his stomach prematurely. Thereby, making him increasingly hungry.
- Health Issues: All the issues with too much fiber are like the fall of a pack of dominoes. Too much fiber causes the colon to get inflamed which causes your dog to do number 2 way too frequently. And too frequent number two, as you know, ultimately leads to too frequent eating.
These two situations could swing two ways:
It could make your dog overweight (because your dog will be eating too frequently).
It could also make your dog underweight (because he is ejecting the food too frequently).
So, you see, whichever way the pendulum swings, it’s still bad news.
What High Fiber Dog Food Can Contain
Simple Wag tells us that to find out what foods have high fiber content, we’ll have to think vegetarian. This means that fiber can basically be got from plant sources.
We see a lot of fiber in fruits, vegetables and even some legumes. Some awesome high fiber foods for your dog include:
These things have high fiber levels and should be a part of your high fiber dog food. Simple Wag says in one sweet potato (medium sized), you could get fiber that is up to 3 grams. And that’s just from a medium sized tuber. Imagine how much fiber a bigger potato will contain.
Of course, you can’t serve your dog raw potatoes and expect him to chomp on it himself.
You will have to cook them (preferably with the peel), make them nice and soft. You don’t need to add spices. And yes, please remember to remove the peel and mash the potatoes before adding them to your dog’s food.
These are vegetables that are quite high in fibers. All you need do is steam them and dice or cut them up. Add them to whatever you’ve decided to give your dog and he should be good.
Apples are awesome sources of fiber. And it doesn’t hurt that they are crunchy and tasty. Just make sure you cut them up nicely so that there are no threats of your dog choking on them. Also remove the core.
This is a favorite of many a dog lover. Pumpkins come in cans which makes things easier. No need to go through the stress of cutting up. Just open up the can and follow the measurement instructions.
Brown rice is richer in fiber than regular white rice. In fact it has up to three times the amount of fiber that white rice has. Cook the rice till it is soft so that it is easier for your dog to digest.
If you don’t want to go through the stress of having to mix and measure the right amount of fiber and other nutrients, you could buy a commercially packed high fiber dog food.
Be careful though, a good high fiber dog food should not have fiber as the ingredient with the highest quantity.
Protein should be the major ingredient of dog food irrespective of what tag it carries. Anything higher than 10% fiber is quite risky. Anyway, if the food has the approval of the Association of American Feed Control Officials then it should be OK.
A Few Things To Note
CertaPet gives us an idea of some things to bear in mind if we decide to feed our dogs on high fiber dog food.
- Though corn is an awesome source of fiber for humans, it is bad news for dogs. Dogs cannot properly digest corns because their intestinal tract is not as long as those of humans. So stay away from any high fiber dog food that parades corn as a major ingredient or as an ingredient at all. It is bad news.
- Give your dog time adjust to his new diet. Remember all we said could happen if you do anything too suddenly. So, introduce the food to him bit by bit and watch for reactions.
Some dogs will react to a high fiber diet while some won’t just like the taste. So be sure to monitor your dog and learn to tell the difference. If he does not like the taste then try to spice things up. If he is reacting to the fiber then put him off it.
- Remember the saying about less being sometimes more? It applies to cost too. Don’t mistake expensive for quality because they are not always synonymous.
What you want to be concerned about is the nutritional composition of the food. Compare different brands and pick the one with the best nutritional content for your dog.
To Conclude this
Don’t make any dietary switch without first consulting with your veterinarian. It is absolutely very important that your vet gives you the go ahead before you decide to switch your dog to a high fiber diet.
They should tell you if it is OK or not. They should also be able to tell you the right quantity for your dog and also help monitor your dog during the transition.
Remember, the food you are looking for is the one that has the approval of the Association of American Feed Control Officials.