Just like in the case of humans, our pets’ diet can impact their health, but what might be good for you might not be necessarily the suitable options for them! Fibers play an essential role in digestive health and energy levels. Understanding how to introduce enough into your dog’s diet is vital, mainly because they rely on you for proper nutrition.
What you can feed your dog for fiber includes vegetables such as kale and broccoli, fruits such as apples and oranges, whole grains such as brown rice and oats, flaxseeds, and legumes. For balanced diets with 2-4% fiber, prescription foods in line with your dog’s dietary needs are also beneficial.
Understanding how fibers interact with your dog’s health is essential to devise a diet plan that works for them. In this article, you can find all the information needed to provide your dog with enough fiber for a healthy life.
Just like in humans, fibers play an essential role in maintaining a healthy gastrointestinal system. Thanks to fibers in our diet, our digestive system can run smoothly and prevent diseases such as obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, and even diabetes.
In terms of everyday health, fibers can help regulate your dog’s bowel movement, preventing issues such as diarrhea and constipation. And, since this nutrient is responsible for balancing the gut microbiome, it can also play an essential role in maintaining a robust immune system.
With all the benefits a diet rich in fiber can bring, it becomes evident that you need to feed your dog enough high-fiber foods. Yet, it is crucial not to overdo it!
Speaking to your vet will clarify how much fiber your dog needs, depending on breed, gender, weight, health, and age. However, generally, you should aim to supply between 2% and 4% of fiber through their diets.
However, the quality of fibers supplied is just as important as quantity. And, since there are several kinds of fibers to feed your dog, it is essential to look further into it.
Fibers are nutrients commonly deriving from plant-based ingredients that pass through the digestive system intact – without being digested or breaking down. One of the most common distinctions is between soluble and insoluble fibers.
- Soluble fibers: These dieter fibers include pectin and gums and dissolve when immersed in water. By dissolving, they regulate blood sugar and cholesterol, reducing the risk of diabetes.
- Insoluble fibers: These fibers include plant cellulose and don’t dissolve in water. They don’t get processed by colon bacteria, and they produce less gas. However, they attract water to stools, making them softer and reducing constipation.
It is essential for your dog to obtain both kinds of fibers from their diet but in balanced quantities.
If you are not sure whether your dog needs more fiber or not, you can check for signs of fiber deficiency. Some of these signs include:
- Watery stools
- Stomach issues
- Irregular bowel movements
At the same time, too much fiber can also cause side effects, such as absorbing too much mineral from foods, long-term health issues, and blocked anal glands. If you notice any of these signs, you should not hesitate to ask for professional guidance.
If you are a new dog owner, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by what your dog can and can’t eat and what the best diet for their health actually is. As we are about to see, high-fiber dog food can always be an easily accessible solution.
However, there are endless natural ingredients and foods that can benefit your dog’s digestive system and overall health without weighing as much on your finances.
You can find a quick explanation of what your dog should (and should not) eat to balance out fiber intake in the video below:
Alternatively, read on for a comprehensive list of foods that should be in your pup’s diet!
Kibbles and wet food products for pets are so accessible and readily available that we often forget that it is easy to improve our pets’ diet with fresh ingredients. While these ingredients might not be the ideal solution for a balanced diet, they can be easily incorporated into a nutritional plan to provide essential minerals, vitamins, and nutrients.
In the case of fibers, it is essential to remember that plant-based foods, fruits, and vegetables are an irreplaceable source of soluble and insoluble fibers. Therefore, introducing them into your pup’s diet can help you create a healthy balance.
Nonetheless, as you might know, some foods are off-limits for dogs, including avocados, mushrooms, and onions. Here are some of the fruits and vegetables to stick to in order to increase fiber intake:
- Carrots: Carrots contain an impressive 1.8g (0.06oz) of fibers per 100g (3.53oz) of produce, as well as essential vitamins such as vitamin A, K, and B6. The high carotene content also protects your dog’s vision and eye health.
- Broccoli: With 2.6g (0.09oz) of fibers in every 100g (3.53oz), broccoli is among the most fiber-dense vegetables out there. Like cauliflower, they belong to the Brassicaceae family of vegetables, which are also rich in antioxidants and essential for immune system health.
- Kale: Rich in fibers, thiamine, folate, iron, and riboflavin, kale is undoubtedly a superfood – and not only for humans! With 2g (0.07oz) of fiber for every 100g (3.53oz) of kale, they can protect your dog’s digestive health as well as having anti-cancer and anti-diabetic properties.
- Pumpkin: Containing 0.5g (0.02oz) of fiber for every 100g (3.53oz) of produce, pumpkin is one of the best foods to increase your dog’s fiber intake, especially because pets love this vegetable.
- Apples: Apples are a delicious treat for dogs, and, as an added benefit, they contain 2.4g (0.08oz) of fiber for every 100g (3.53oz). Apples are also important foods for other body functions, but their seeds can be toxic for your dog, so be sure to remove their core.
- Kelp: Sea kelp is one of the most uncommon foods for dogs, but it can be highly beneficial. Indeed, kelp is rich in fiber, which also lowers bad cholesterol and calories.
- Beetroot: Beet pulp boasts between 2g (0.07oz) and 3g (0.11oz) of fiber for 100g (3.53oz) and can be easily integrated into your dog’s diet by adding it to kibbles. Thanks to its vitamin C, iron, potassium, and folate content, beetroot can also aid cardiovascular health.
- Oranges: With 2.4g (0.08oz) of fiber in 100g (3.53oz) of oranges, these fruits are a great summer addition to your dog’s diet. Thanks to their antioxidant content, oranges can also protect cells from oxidative stress and aid collagen production. All these properties make them a potent anti-cancer and anti-aging fruit.
Whole Grains are filled with beneficial dietary fibers, and, in particular, they contain high quantities of soluble fiber – which is essential for proper digestion. These kinds of fibers also act on your dog’s satiety levels, helping them feel fuller for longer.
While this benefit does not seem like much, it can be truly beneficial in helping a dog lose weight and regain its health. In turn, this can reduce a variety of problems connected with excessive weight, including diabetes and cardiovascular issues.
Some of the best whole grains and seeds to feed your dog include:
- Brown rice: With more than 1.8g (0.06oz) for every 100g (3.53oz), brown rice is extremely high in fiber, but it is also a minimally processed grain that is highly beneficial to your dog’s health. Indeed, the high levels of magnesium in brown rice can reduce the risks for heart disease and stroke.
- Wheat germ: Wheat germ contains an impressive 12g (0.42oz) of protein in every 100g (3.53oz) of product. Just by sprinkling this product on your dog’s food, you can ensure your pup receives enough fiber for the day. Other nutrients contained in wheat germ include vitamin E and folic acid.
- Flaxseed: Flaxseed has a reputation for being superfoods, also thanks to its Omega-3 fatty acids content. These fatty acids can protect your dog’s digestive system, brain health, skin and coat, and nervous system alongside the fiber and antioxidant content in flaxseed.
It is always recommendable that you look for sources of fibers from ingredients that have been minimally processed. For example, grains such as wheat and white rice tend to be more processed than others, such as brown rice.
We all tend to forget about how beneficial legumes can be. Yet legumes often represent a crucial component in dog foods and kibbles because they are easily processed and maintained.
However, if your dog needs a higher fiber intake, you should consider feeding your pet boiled or minimally processed legumes. Here are some of the most common legumes you can feed your dog and their fiber content:
- Kidney beans: 25g (0.88oz)
- Chickpeas: 17g (0.6oz)
- Fava beans: 8g (0.28oz)
- Lentils: 8g (0.28oz)
- Peas: 5g (0.18oz)
- Soybeans: 5g (0.18oz)
Alongside fiber, legumes are packed with essential minerals, vitamins, and macronutrients, including proteins and carbohydrates. Legumes have endless health benefits for your pup, such as protecting their cardiovascular system, regulating blood sugar, reducing bad cholesterol, and aid in weight management.
As we have seen, your kitchen cupboards and fridge already have everything you need to guarantee your dog a healthy and balanced diet. However, if your dog has any dietary requirements or health issues, your vet might recommend you invest in high-fiber foods.
These foods are either kibbles or wet food, and they are enriched with dietary fiber. Because they are scientifically formulated, you need to give your dog the amount recommended by your vet to provide the right amount of fiber.
However, not all dog foods are the same, and, when shopping for high-fiber foods, it is crucial for the product you have chosen to tick these boxes:
- It boasts a high fiber content. The fiber content in the prescription food can be considered high if it falls somewhere between 6% and 10%.
- It includes high-fiber fruits and vegetables. It is possible for the food you have picked to include vegetables and fruit. Make sure these are high-fiber ones, as well as organic.
- It includes a whole protein as the first ingredient. You should provide dogs with a meat-based diet, and it is essential to check that the first ingredients on the list are whole protein sources.
- Avoid foods with vague ingredients. If the first ingredients are difficult to identify or ambiguous, such as “meat meals” or “byproducts,” you should opt for another product. Not specifying the type of meat included means that it might be lower in quality.
- Avoid artificial colors and flavors. Artificial colors and flavors don’t add any value in terms of nutrition, but they can contain chemicals and trigger allergic reactions. Remember that a dog will not be fussy about the color of their food, but they need to be fed balanced nutrition. If in doubt, you should always opt for foods that don’t include any artificial enhancers.
- Look for enriched foods. Just like human foods, dog kibbles and wet food can be enriched with Omega-3 fatty acids and other compounds like probiotics. These have a variety of health benefits, and they are challenging to obtain from a diet. In turn, these foods can reduce inflammation, improve immune function, and protect their coat’s health.
- Shop local or in countries with high health standards. Not all countries have the same standards in food-safety practices. Ideally, you should stick to foods produced in Europe, the US, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia.
When selecting your dog’s food to increase its fiber intake, there is no “one-size-fits-all” formula. Indeed, every dog is unique and might have dietary requirements that you need to consider in your choice.
Here are some aspects to consider planning a high-fiber diet for your puppy:
Increased quantities of dietary fiber can help your dog shed any extra weight. Indeed, high-fiber foods are also low in calories and bad cholesterol, which means that your dog can eat enough of them without consuming more calories than allowed.
At the same time, fiber promotes a sense of satiety, which means that your dog might not have the urge to eat more or snack on high-calorie foods.
Within their healthy weight range, dogs can still benefit from an increased fiber intake if you have noticed that they often seem hungry.
Fibers are an essential component of a diabetic dog’s diet. Thanks to dietary fiber, your pup can better regulate blood sugar levels. Since the sugar in fibers is slow-releasing, your dog can enjoy a fulfilling meal without having to deal with the spikes – and consequent – drop in blood glucose.
Oppositely, fibers provide your dog with a balanced stream of energy without endangering their health.
Anal gland issues such as anal sac disease can be extremely painful and life-threatening health conditions for your dog. When the anal sacs become impacted due to inflammation, the dog will struggle to pass faces. If your dog has started to show the early signs of anal gland disease, your vet might recommend you to increase their intake of fiber.
Indeed, fiber can increase stool volume, which can help completely empty the anal glands and prevent issues. However, since this condition can be extremely severe, it is always recommended to speak to your vet or dog nutritionist to understand the best course of action and prevent further issues.
Foods rich in fiber include apples, oranges, beet pulp, kale, broccoli, whole grains such as brown rice, oats, flaxseeds, and legumes. When supplied in line with your vet’s recommendations, high-fiber prescription foods may also be recommended, especially if your pup is diabetic or suffers from anal gland issues.
Your dog’s diet can play an essential role in their health and, thus, you should always speak to a veterinarian to ensure you are supplying all the nutrients needed. Generally, a balanced diet for a dog includes 2% to 4% of fibers obtained from ad hoc products and fresh ingredients.
- Burns Pet: High Five To Fibre
- Tufts University: Fiber Frustrations
- WebMD: Health Benefits of Beetroot
- RedBarn: 5 Benefits of Legumes in Dog Food
- Tufts University: What’s the Best Diet for My Dog with Diabetes?
- VCA Hospitals: Anal Sac Disease in Dogs
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