We all want the very best when it comes to our beloved four-legged companions. From staying up to date on the latest and greatest advancements in holistic healing to ensuring that your pup always has enough physical and mental stimulation, you try to do it all. However, what if we told you that a supplement you've definitely heard of was one of the most often overlooked. We're talking about fiber.
Fiber is a nutrient that has extremely important health benefits for your furry friend, yet many pet owners assume that their dog is getting plenty in their normal food source. Unfortunately, that may not be the case. Luckily, there are effective ways to ensure that Fido is getting all the fiber they need. Let's get started!
What is High Fiber Dog Food
High fiber dog food is exactly what you would think: dog food that is made with high amounts of natural fiber. If your dog is struggling with digestive problems or maintaining a healthy weight, a high fiber dog food option may be just the thing they need (more on that in a moment). However, making the switch to high fiber dog food isn't as simple as one may think. In fact, many pet parents compare it to getting a child to eat vegetables. It's as if the dog knows that this new food is chock full of vitamins and nutrients so they turn their noses up. Not to worry, if high fiber dog food is the appropriate health change for your dog there are ways to ensure they grow to love the taste.
Types of Fiber
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber produces gases during the fermentation process in the colon. Therefore, soluble fiber can result in gas and diarrhea if it's introduced too quickly or if too much of it is given. It's always important to start off slowly when it comes to soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber absorbs water as it moves through the digestive tract. This act ultimately means that it’s metabolically inert. Additionally, insoluble fiber does not create intestinal gas. Insoluble fiber is known for its ability to control transit time within the digestive tract. In other words, it can speed things up in cases of constipation and slow things down when it comes to diarrhea. While insoluble fiber is considered to be safe, even in high doses, too much insoluble fiber can result in a decrease of the diet’s nutrient value due to a binding of minerals. This can, therefore, cause issues such as weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, poor coat quality, and flatulence.
The point of discussing the pros and cons of both types of fiber is to remind our readers that too much of a good thing can often have its downsides. When it comes to fiber, always give your dog the recommended amount and start slowly. There is no need to rush into implementing the new dietary supplement.
Benefits of High Fiber Dog Food
The benefits of fiber for dogs are comparable to the benefits it has for humans. It makes sense if you think about it. If you have ever had a weekend where you treated yourself with a slew of carbohydrates and forgot that vegetables existed, your stomach was probably not pleased... to say the least. Dogs can easily have similar issues. Heavy, grain-based pet food may fill them up, but dogs need high-quality fiber sources to keep things moving. In fact, without appropriate amounts of dietary fiber, your dog may ultimately be faced with a slew of health concerns that you may not have even considered. Thankfully, these can easily be prevented simply by incorporating fiber.
Helping with Digestion
Just like in people, fiber is an important part of digestive health. High fiber dog food is paramount for dogs with digestive issues and also helps relieve dogs that suffer from constipation or diarrhea.
The soluble and insoluble fiber that we talked about are key players when it comes to regulating the digestive tract by relieving constipation and controlling diarrhea.
Additionally, high-fiber dog food also promotes colon health. The beneficial bacteria that is naturally found in the dog’s intestine ferment the fiber source and turns it into fatty acids. The fatty acids help to inhibit the overgrowth of bad bacteria as well as aid in the recovery of the colon due to an injury.
Furthermore, studies have found that the fermentable fiber has the ability to prevent colon cancer in dogs. How is that possible? Fiber speeds up the elimination process and thus lessens the exposure to any carcinogens that the dog may have eaten. Therefore, fiber aids in protecting the colon wall as well as the digestive tract from elements that could contribute to cancer.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Sadly, obesity is a real issue amongst our four-legged friends and can do a lot more damage than some dog owners may realize. In fact, obesity is among the leading causes of illness in dogs. However, most obese dogs stay obese throughout their lives because owners are reluctant to decrease the amount of food they serve them.
If your dog is obese you may want to consider switching to a high fiber dog food. Fiber allows your dog to feel full and nourished without eating nearly as much food as the typical grain-based diet. If you ever check out commercial dry food that is formulated for weight loss, you'll find that it is full of dietary fibers for that very reason.
If you decide that you ultimately don't want to make the full switch to a high fiber dog food, you can still help maintain a healthy weight by adding a natural fiber source, such as green beans, to your dog's meal. The healthy additive to your dog's diet will help them feel full and energized longer without the need for overeating and consequently, weight gain.
Dogs with Diabetes Mellitus
Finally, dogs with present health concerns such as diabetes may also benefit from a high-fiber diet.
Certain fibers work to help slow digestion. Slower digestion helps to keep blood-sugar levels from spiking. Therefore, fiber helps to decrease the number of fluctuations that occur in the blood sugar levels and helps to regulate illnesses like diabetes.
With that being said, it is always important to discuss new dietary changes with your veterinarian, particularly when it comes to a dog with existing health issues. While many vets prescribe a high-fiber diet to dogs with diabetes, some dogs with the condition benefit from a moderate to low fiber intake. All dogs are different. Your veterinarian will be able to guide you in the appropriate direction for your dog's individual needs.
Source of Fiber for Dogs
Now that you know all of the great ways that fiber can benefit your dog, you're likely wondering how to get started. Many dog owners are unsure of whether they should make a total switch to a high-fiber dog food brand, simply add in fiber-rich foods, or if a fiber supplement may be best. Unfortunately, there is not one right answer.
We recommend trying out a few different ways of incorporating fiber and seeing which best suits your dog. Again, go slowly! Don't suddenly bring home high fiber food, supplements, and treats and expect Fido to react fondly. Slowly integrate whichever fiber source you choose and allow your dog's body to get used to the new dose of nutrients at its own pace.
Best Food with Fiber for Dogs
High fiber dog food doesn't have to be a store-bought brand of pet food. In fact, you may have the best luck heading straight to the produce aisle. Many fruits and veggies are perfectly safe for Fido and are packed full of fiber that can easily be added to your dog's diet.
For starters, sweet potatoes are a wonderful source of fiber and can provide excellent support for your dog's digestive health. In fact, one medium-sized sweet potato contains over 3 grams of dietary fiber. The best part? Most dogs absolutely love the taste.
In preparing the sweet potato feast, simply clean the whole potato with warm water and pierce it several times with a fork. Cook the potato in the microwave for 8-10 minutes, turning it over halfway through. Once cooked through, cut the sweet potato in half and scoop out the insides, throwing away the skin. Mash the sweet potato with a fork make sure to allow it to cool thoroughly. Dog owners can add 1 to 3 tablespoons of the delicious dietary fiber to Fido's food bowl for a tasty, healthy treat.
Have you ever heard of pumpkin for dogs? With fall just around the corner, Fido can also partake in your love with all things pumpkin! Pumpkin is a great source of soluble fiber and contains essential vitamins and minerals that help relieve dogs suffering from diarrhea. Canned pumpkin contains vitamins A, E, C, potassium, and iron. The natural fibers and essential vitamins slow down digestion by absorbing water and adding bulk to the dog's stool. In treating dog diarrhea, simply mix the dog's current dry food with a tablespoon of canned pumpkin and watch the dietary fiber work its magic on the digestive system.
Adding pumpkin can also help significantly when it comes to weight management. You love your fur baby no matter what the scale says. However, like we previously mentioned, obesity is directly tied to a number of health conditions that dog owners must work to avoid. Canned pumpkin is a great way to ensure that your dog stays at a healthy weight without being hungry.
Finally, we want to quickly note that canned pumpkin for dogs is NOT pumpkin pie filling. When purchasing canned pumpkin make sure that pumpkin is the sole ingredient. The product should not contain any added sugars, salt, etc. as these ingredients will ultimately do a lot more harm than good when it comes to your dog's gastrointestinal tract.
Finally, green beans! Green beans make for an excellent source of fiber content for dogs and humans alike. Dog owners can steam fresh green beans, let them cool entirely, and then mash them up and add them to the dry dog food.
Other foods that make for great sources of fiber include:
- Green vegetables
- Beet pulp
*We want to note that dog allergies are something to be aware of whenever integrating something new into your dog's diet. It is important to closely monitor Fido and be aware of any changes that may indicate a food allergy such as itching, dry flaky skin, and stomach issues.
Quality High Fiber Dog Food Brands
Additionally, some dog owners may choose to make the switch to a high fiber dog food brand. If this is something you're considering, it is important to be aware of the overall quality of the food and understand exactly where the fiber is coming from. It is not enough to simply add fiber. The fiber itself must be high quality in order for your dog to truly benefit.
Pet parents should avoid fiber that comes from ingredients such as corn and other unhealthy fillers. It is imperative that dog owners are aware of the ingredients listed on their pet's food. For instance, the ingredient “cellulose” can actually come from a slew of places including shredded paper. Knowing exactly what you are feeding your dog is the first step in ensuring that their diet is balanced and healthy.
Your vet will be able to lead you in the right direction in terms of a specific brand that will be best for your dog. Commonly recommended brands include Royal Canin, Nutro dog food, and Hill Prescription Diet.
Fiber Supplement for Dogs
Dogs can suffer from constipation just like their owners. While we highly recommend first adding a supplement like canned pumpkin, sometimes the dog's digestive tract needs an extra boost to get it moving again. Many pet owners have found that adding a laxative such a Miralax can help ease their dog's constipation. Other pet owners have found that adding brown rice can do wonders in relieving an upset stomach.
There are two things we want to note. First, always make sure that Fido stays hydrated. Dehydration and constipation often go hand in hand and you'd be surprised just how beneficial a constant clean water source can be for digestive issues. Next, it is so important to always consult with your veterinarian regarding additional fiber supplements, particularly those that are formulated for humans. While they may end up working just fine for your dog, it's always better to be safe than sorry. The last thing you want is for your dog's constipation only to be relieved by a sudden bout of diarrhea.
Transitioning to Food with Fiber
When it comes to transitioning your pets to a high-fiber diet, there a few things to be aware of. First, dog owners should consider what their dog's current diet consists of. If there is little to no fiber content then a sudden fiber additive can easily cause digestive upset. It is important to make the transition gradual. Pet owners should slowly begin substituting small portions of their dog's current food with the new high-fiber food. Allow your dog's body to take the time it needs to adjust.
When simply adding a fiber source such as pumpkin or green beans, it is important to know what your choices are and how each can benefit Fido in slightly varying ways. Recognize how your dog would best benefit from each supplement and make a decision based on your dog's needs.
As always, stay alert. Switching diets can be a bigger change than you may imagine. The first step in ensuring that Fido is staying happy and healthy is knowing your dog's "normal" and being able to recognize when something is off. If your dog begins experience diarrhea or digestive upset, decrease the amount of fiber that you are adding to their meal. Again, ask your vet for the appropriate amount of fiber for your dog's individual needs and be sure to follow their recommendations.
Specific Diet Options
Studies continue to prove just how important fiber is for all dogs. However, when it comes to using fiber as a vehicle to treat conditions such as obesity, there are several diets that your vet may recommend exploring.
Low-Fat Diet Dog Food: Rich in Fiber
Diets that are low in fat, including low-carb diets, often emphasize being rich in nutritional fibers. These diets use dietary fibers to aid in making your dog feel full faster which therefore helps to curb excess food intake. Low-fat diets are also often recommended for aging adult dogs who are less active in their older years and therefore require fewer calories.
Grain-Free Dog Food
Grain-free dog foodoften goes hand in hand with low-carb diets. Many pet owners have found that feeding grain-free food also helps manage allergies as well as maintain a healthy weight.
Your vet may also recommend trying a dry or wet dog food that is high in dietary fiber and lower in protein content.
Typically, store-bought dog food usually contains 2-4% fiber. When it comes to a prescription diet, high fiber dog food will contain 6-10% fiber and emphasize less protein.
High Fiber Dog Food & CBD
Furthermore, because CBD and fiber are both all natural supplements, they can safely be used in conjunction with one another for even more benefits. Your dog's stomach problems can soon be a thing of the past by making a few simple changes such as implementing fiber and CBD as a part of a well-rounded diet.
High Fiber Dog Food: The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, we know that you want the absolute best for Fido. We understand. At Honest Paws we are all dog owners, so we know first hand how tough navigating the world of pet parenting can be. It is important to know that so many health conditions can be prevented by ensuring Fido is consuming high-quality dog food. Talk to your vet and see how a high-protein diet may be just what your dog needs.
Chelsea Rivera is a holistic pet wellness expert and writer. She manages written content for Honest Paws - a company that specializes in CBD oil for dogs and cats.
Additionally, she is the founder and lead writer for SimpleWag, which focuses on holistic wellness and natural alternatives for dogs. She spends her days creating content, catching up on emails, and being bossed around by her 5 lb. maltipoo, Baby Rose.