We don’t realize how important fiber is to our dog’s diet. We tend to focus on the wolf-like carnivore needs of our dogs, but as creatures bred to be around humans, dogs these days get more fiber in their diet than their ancestors. Fiber quality, however, is extremely important. Unfortunately, many commercial dog foods are full of low-quality fiber, from cellulose or other filler.
However, foods with real vegetable fiber from whole fruits and vegetables are better for your dog. Fiber is important for your dog’s digestion, so let’s learn the facts about fiber needs in your dog’s diet.
The Role of Fiber in Your Dog’s Diet
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber can make your dog gassy by fermenting in the colon. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, absorbs water and moves through the digestive tract. It’s metabolically inert, and doesn’t cause gas. Insoluble fiber regulates how often your dog eliminates. While a moderate amount of fiber is perfect, too much fiber may cause your dog not to absorb enough nutrients causing diarrhea, weight loss, gas, and diminished coat quality.
Here are just a few benefits of fiber in your dog’s diet:
Helps with Weight Loss
Obese dogs have great chances of losing body fat on a high fiber diet. Try not to feed your dogs any table scraps, and start your dog on a weight management program as designated by your veterinarian. There are many commercially available dog foods that are high in fiber. However, if changing your dog’s food is not in your interest, you can add foods to your dogs commercial food, such as fresh blanched green beans, to your dog’s food bowl during meal time. This will help them feel full without all the added calories.
Assists in Digestion
Humans and dogs alike share the need for fiber in their diet. Fiber will often break down and ferment into fatty acids. This process is done by the good bacteria in the gut. The fatty acids, in turn, help the overgrowth of bad bacteria, and assists in the recovery of the colon during injury.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) states, “Fiber may help reduce the risk of colon cancer in dogs, because it speeds elimination and therefore reduces the exposure of any carcinogens your dog has consumed. Not surprisingly, fiber can also reduce diarrhea and constipation symptoms, should your dog be suffering from either.”
Helps Dogs with Diabetes Mellitus
Fiber slows digestion, and for diabetes suffering dogs, it slows the levels of sugar entering the body. If your dog has diabetes mellitus, you can help control the disease by feeding them a high fiber diet. Veterinarians have even found that fiber can lower a dog’s sensitivity to insulin. Before you change your dog’s diet, however, be sure to consult with your vet. Some dogs, even those with diabetes mellitus, don’t do well on a high fiber diet.
Sources of Fiber for Your Dog
There are plenty of natural sources of fiber appropriate for your dog to eat. Here are some sources of fiber you can easily add to your dog’s current diet to increase their intake. Just remember to check with your vet before beginning any new diet:
- Apples: Apples are available practically year-round. Add a few slices to your dog’s bowl for added fiber. Remember to remove the core, as apple seeds are toxic in large quantities.
- Carrots: Carrots are rich in vitamins K, A, and B6. This keeps your dog’s eyes brilliant and healthy. They also provide a great source of fiber.
- Broccoli: This nutritious cruciferous can’t be beat! It offers a wide range of vitamins and minerals to help your dog stay healthy. The fiber from the plant is easily digested, and many dogs enjoy it!
- Kale: Shred some kale into your dog’s food for added fiber, iron, folate, and more! This is a powerhouse vegetable for dogs and humans alike.
- Pumpkin: Pumpkin is a versatile vegetable and it provides lots of fiber along with other nutrients. On hot summer days, try freezing ice cube trays of pumpkin for a frozen snack!
- Ground flaxseed: You might eat ground flaxseed yourself. Ground flaxseed has lots of insoluble fiber that binds to cholesterol and fat, helping to move this through your dog’s digestive system.
By adding the right kinds of high-quality fiber to your dog’s diet, you’ll be giving them a balanced diet that improves their overall health and helps them fight obesity.