Does Your Dog Need Fiber To Be Healthy?
If you were to suggest to a dog owner that there were not too many differences between their diet and the diet of their dog, you would probably get a puzzled look or two. The truth is that there are many similarities between what a dog eats and what a human eats. This is mainly because they are both omnivores. Don’t let this comfort you into thinking that dogs are easy to feed. Due to a lack of strong regulations in the pet food industry, most dog foods are missing vital ingredients and components necessary to keep a dog healthy. Without them, your dog is not only going to lead an unhealthy life but they could be more open to illnesses that could spread to other dogs or even yourself.
One of the most overlooked components is fiber. Being one of the most important nutrients for dogs hasn’t kept fiber at the top of the dog food companies lists. As a responsible pet owner and dog lover, you’ll want to know more about how you can make sure your dog is getting the right amount of nutrients including fiber.
Ward Off Diarrhea and Constipation
Fiber is a vital component in every person’s diet, and it is just as true for dogs. While it is well known that having enough fiber in a dog’s diet can prevent constipation, many are unaware that fiber can help prevent diarrhea. This is because a high fiber diet will help to keep your dog’s bowel movements consistent.
Think of fiber as a digestive cleansing agent. It helps to make the digestive process go much more smoothly than if your dog was taking in only the bare minimum amount. Too much or too little can throw your dog’s digestive tract way off and cause problems that will add up not only in health problems but dollars as well.
Weight Loss Aid
If you have a dog that is overweight then introducing more fiber into their diet is a great way to encourage weight loss. Just like humans, when a dog becomes accustomed to eating too much they start to view that amount as the new normal. Nothing less will satisfy them, and smaller amounts of the same old food will just leave them hungry and irritable. No one likes a grumpy dog.
A high fiber food will add bulk to your dog’s food without the added calories that could potentially lead to more weight gain. This means your dog will be losing weight without ever feeling that pinch of hunger. Unlike a dieting human, dogs don’t understand that dieting is good for them. Hunger is something to be concerned about, and they get easily defensive and worried when they feel hunger. You can keep this from happening by procuring a high fiber meal for you favorite pooch.
You could also try certain kinds of snacks for your dog like chewing sticks or bull pizzle chews. These give your dog something small to have at while waiting for that next meal and can save them from feeling hungry or anxious in between.
The Prevention of Cancer
Fiber may also help prevent colon cancer in your dog. When your dog ingests fiber, it is fermented by good bacteria and creates short chain fatty acids. Short chain fatty acids can help the colon to repair itself. Fiber also helps the fecal matter in your dog’s colon to swell when it comes into contact with water that is absorbed into the colon.
When this swollen fecal matter presses against the colon wall it lets your dog’s body know to push everything out faster. This faster digestive time means that the fecal matter won’t spend as much time hanging around in the colon and pressing against things it shouldn’t. Too much contact between the fecal matter and the colon wall can lead to colon cancer and a slew of other nasty problems.
Preventing Anal Gland Disease
Increasing your dog’s fiber intake will also help to prevent anal gland disease. One of the best ways to tell if your dog is suffering from anal glad disease is to see if they are continuously dragging their rear on the carpet or other coarse surfaces. Most veterinarians call this “the scoot” and it’s one of the earliest and easiest ways to identify anal glad disease in your dog. This is your dog’s attempt to alleviate the pain that they are experiencing. Increasing your dog’s fiber causes them to defecate larger stool, which helps to unclog their anal glands.
Fiber Can Help Avoid Canine Diabetes
Another debilitating illness that can be battled with fiber is canine diabetes. The introduction of insoluble fiber into the stomach slows down the process of nutrient absorption and blunts the increase in blood sugar levels so that the jump in these levels after eating isn’t as high as it would be in a dog fed a diet that doesn’t contain such high fiber counts. Fermenting soluble fiber may also affect your dog’s sensitivity to insulin.
Sourcing Your Dog's Food
If you want to ensure that your dog has a high fiber diet, then you need to be careful as to what dog food you are buying them. While a particular brand may market itself as high fiber, it may have the same amount of fiber as brands that do not tout such claims. Do the necessary research to find the brands that offer up high fiber dog food. One of the best resources at your disposal is your dog’s veterinarian. Your dog’s vet should be able to recommend some high fiber options. In fact, they may even sell such dog food in the office though you will be paying significantly more if you buy directly from the vet. Above all have your vet check your dog to be sure as to whether or not the dog needs more fiber in the first place.
How To Include Fiber In Your Dog's Diet
If your vet says that fiber is the problem, then you have some very real options. Most dog food contains around 5% crude fiber, which is great for a normal dog. Your dog, for any number of reasons, might need more. High fiber dog food is available.
One option you have is to add a bit of pumpkin puree into your dog’s food. A good rule of thumb is to add a tablespoon for each 20lbs of your dog’s weight. Add the pumpkin to each meal. Do be careful though. The can for pureed pumpkin looks very close to the can for pumpkin pie filling. They are not the same thing.
Steamed green beans are a generous source of fiber. Just toss them in the microwave for a few minutes. When they are cool, break them into pieces and feed them to your dog like a treat, or you can blend them up and mix them with their dog food. Sweet potatoes can be served similarly. Make one up like you would a baked potato in the microwave. Chop it up, then add it to your dog food in the same proportions as the pumpkin puree.
Bits of bran cereal can be used as treats, and they contain a ton of fiber. Just watch the sugar content of the cereal before you choose it. The lower the sugar and sodium level, the better.
A simpler, but less stable solution is to switch to a high fiber dog food. Don’t make this a permanent switch though, as you can run into the opposite problem and your dog can become constipated. The addition of extra fiber should always be monitored, so you don’t give your dog too much. Besides turning to constipation, too much fiber can flush out vital nutrients. If you do not want to switch your dog’s food out then you can always turn to fiber capsules.
Most people aren’t in the habit of throwing away perfectly good money, however, that is what happens when you overlook the fiber content of your dog’s food. It’s easy to do, but many people never get around to it. If you’d like to save money, have a healthier dog, and not have the worry involved with a sickly animal than you’ll give your dog a good look over and make sure their diet is sufficient in all of the nutrients they need. Keep in mind that if you have a puppy or elder dog that their food requirements change as they grow and what may be good for one age will not suit the next. You’re a dog lover and a great dog owner who cares about the food your dog eats and how it affects them. Keep being a great owner by checking the fiber content of your dog’s food and making all the necessary changes for continued health.