Fiber is important for your dog, like it is for you. Most people think of fiber as the nutrient that keeps your bowel movements regular. Fiber is also beneficial in other ways, though. Many of fiber’s benefits for humans apply to our canine friends, too.
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that helps with digestion and gut health. Fiber doesn't get digested in the small intestine like most other nutrients, though. Instead, it gets fermented in the large intestine.
Like most nutrients our dogs need, it's important that your four-legged friend gets the proper amount of fiber. Too much or too little could cause issues. Luckily, just by eating high-quality dog food, your pup should have the right fiber intake.
Let's take a closer look at why fiber is so important and how it helps your pet's health. We'll also learn about some of the best sources of fiber for dogs and how to make sure your dog gets enough of this essential nutrient.
Why Is Fiber Essential for My Dog's Diet?
There are two types of fiber that your dog needs in their diet: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. To put it simply, soluble fiber is digestible, and insoluble fiber is not. Both are important for your dog's health.
Digestible fiber can be broken into simple molecules. These molecules are processed by the bacteria in your dog’s gut, allowing their system to glean nutritional value. (You’ll learn more about the nutritional benefits of fiber below.) Indigestible or insoluble fiber helps to reduce gut inflammation and clean the mucous membranes.
So, why is fiber so important? Here are the main benefits:
Fiber is the best friend of your dog's digestive system. During digestion, fiber gets fermented into fatty acids by beneficial bacteria, which helps to prevent the overgrowth of harmful bacteria. Insoluble fiber in particular helps food to move through the digestive tract, helping to form solid stools and avoid constipation or diarrhea.
Fiber also improves colon health by keeping the elimination process moving. Since it helps relieve constipation, diarrhea, and loose stools, it's important for maintaining regular bowel movements and good general digestive health.
Another way to maintain your dog's good gut health is with a high-quality probiotic. Native Pet's probiotic powder is a great choice. It can help address acute and chronic diarrhea by promoting a thriving environment for healthy flora in the gut. Ask your veterinarian about adding a probiotic supplement to your pet's meals.
One of the great benefits of fiber for dogs is it helps your dog to feel full without consuming extra calories. That's why high-fiber diets are great for weight loss.
Even if your dog doesn't need to lose weight, a diet with the right amount of fiber can help maintain a healthy weight. It's a good way to make sure your pet doesn't overeat, which can quickly lead to extra pounds or even obesity.
Improved Blood Sugar Levels
Since fiber can help regulate the digestive process, it keeps your dog's blood sugar levels from spiking. This means that there is less fluctuation in Fido's blood sugar level, which is very important for dogs with diabetes. Even for dogs without diabetes, maintaining a steady blood sugar level is key. Spikes or dips in blood sugar could result in symptoms like increased thirst and urination, weakness, and confusion.
Many dogs who have diabetes eat high-fiber diets to help regulate their blood sugar. If your pooch is diabetic, ask your veterinarian about their fiber levels.
What Are the Best Sources of Fiber for Dogs?
Through normal dog food, your dog is likely getting all the fiber content they need. But sometimes, dogs could use a little extra fiber to deal with a bout of diarrhea or constipation.
Note: Check with your veterinarian before giving your dog any kind of human food. Once you get the all-clear, you may consider giving your pet a food like:
Canned pumpkin can be found year-round in grocery stores. It’s a great way of adding fiber to your dog's diet. Just make sure to purchase plain canned pumpkin, rather than pumpkin with added sugars or a related product like pumpkin pie filling. Try adding a teaspoon or so of canned pumpkin to your dog's normal kibble. You might also consider Native Pet's Pumpkin Powder — just mix it with water and it's ready for your dog.
Fully-cooked brown rice is a whole-grain, high-fiber food that's great for dogs. It's also easy to mix other healthy veggies, like green beans, with brown rice.
A byproduct of sugar beet processing, beet pulp is very high in fiber. It's a common ingredient in many high-fiber dog foods, too. You could top your dog's meal with a teaspoon or so of beet pulp.
These low-calorie, high-fiber vegetables are perfectly safe for dogs. They're also packed with protein, calcium, and vitamins A, C, B6, and K. Cut green beans into small, half-inch pieces so they're easy for your pet to swallow.
Sweet potatoes are rich in fiber and offer other nutrients like antioxidants, potassium, and manganese. Steam or boil the potatoes, and then mash them to make them easy for your dog to eat. Never feed your dog raw sweet potatoes, as it creates a choking hazard.
Full of dietary fiber as well as omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed is often considered a superfood. It offers various health benefits to your dog, including anti-inflammatory effects, improved skin and coat health, and lower blood pressure. You can sprinkle a teaspoon or so of flaxseed meal or ground flaxseeds on your dog's meal for a nutritional boost.
Give your dog a few small chunks of apple (never feed the seeds, stem, or core) as a high-fiber treat. Apples offer plenty of other vitamins and minerals as well, like vitamins A, C, and K, potassium, and calcium.
These are just a few of the many options available for adding fiber to your dog's diet.
Again, consult with your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist before giving your dog any kind of new food. Too much food that's rich in fiber can result in diarrhea or vomiting.
Remember: The average healthy adult dog probably gets enough fiber from their normal pet food. There's no need to give your dog an additional fiber supplement unless your veterinarian advises this.
How Should I Add Fiber to My Dog's Diet?
Whenever you're giving your dog a fiber supplement in the form of fresh fruits, vegetables, or grains like sweet potatoes and rice, it's important to keep the portion size small. Follow the 10% rule: The amount of fiber-rich supplemental foods shouldn't be more than 10% of your dog's daily calorie consumption. Ask your vet how many calories your dog should be getting per day and what amount of fiber-rich food would make up about 10% of that total.
Play it safe and only give your dog a small taste of the foods listed above. A teaspoon of pumpkin or beet pulp, 2-3 dime-sized chunks of apple, or a teaspoon or so of flaxseed meal. Always consult with your veterinarian about the serving size and type of food you're considering giving to your dog.
Why Is Fiber for Dogs So Important?
Fiber for dogs is important for proper digestion. It helps your dog poop regularly while avoiding both constipation and diarrhea. It's also key for weight management because it helps your pet to feel full. Plus, fiber helps keep blood sugar levels steady. This is important for all dogs, especially diabetic ones.
Giving your dog small amounts of the human foods listed above is a good way to add extra fiber to the diet. But remember: Always check with your vet before doing so.For more articles on your dog's health, nutrition, and wellness, visit the Native Pet blog.