High-fiber Dog Food: Why Is Fiber Beneficial to Your Dog's Health?
some of the many sources of fiber that could be in high-fiber dog food
High-fiber dog foods: what you need to know

Fiber is an important part of a dog's diet since it aids digestion and prevents constipation, and some dogs benefit from high-fiber dog food. Your dog's digestive tract relies heavily on fiber for optimum function, and it can also give a number of other health benefits.

Dietary changes and the addition of fiber to your pet's diet can help with obesity, which has been linked to shortened lifespans and metabolic disorders in dogs. Finally, dietary fiber promotes normal anal gland function by helping to generate and maintain regular stools. Still, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to fiber in the canine diet, so let's go over what you need to know.

How to Recognize a Dog Has a Fiber Deficiency

If you're wondering how to tell if your dog is receiving enough fiber, there are a few things you can look for. Your dog is likely getting enough fiber if they are active, poop regularly, and maintain a healthy weight. However, if your dog is having digestion or weight problems, it's possible that their fiber intake is inadequate.

One of the best methods to detect if your dog is getting enough fiber is by looking at their feces. Insufficient fiber can cause constipation or loose, watery stool. Additionally, typically active dogs may become lethargic due to intestinal problems, another symptom.

a red setter struggling to poop ay need high-fiber dog food
constipation is common sign your dog may need high-fiber dog food

Obesity is another indicator that your dog may be suffering from a fiber deficiency. If a dog is still hungry despite being fed, there may not be enough fiber in their diet.

Finally, while knowing how to tell if a dog has inadequate fiber is crucial, knowing if they are getting too much could also be harmful to their health. Constipation, diarrhea, and weight loss are the most typical symptoms of consuming too much fiber.

The Benefits of High Fiber Dog Food

Fiber is just as important in our diets as it is in your dog's diet. However, it's easy to overlook the importance of fiber, which has numerous benefits for feeding our dogs. Anal gland impaction, diarrhea, and constipation can be alleviated by feeding dogs a diet rich in dietary fiber.

Dogs benefit from two forms of fiber for a healthy digestive system. Insoluble fiber absorbs water and draws moisture from outside the colon and into a dog's feces, promoting regular bowel movements. Meanwhile, soluble fiber forms a thick gel, which may help food travel more easily through the digestive tract.

In fact, a study was done to see whether providing a meal high in soluble and insoluble fiber to dogs suffering from acute colitis would be more beneficial than eating a diet with standard fiber levels. Colitis is a condition in which the colon or large intestine becomes inflamed and can result in diarrhea. The findings indicate that increasing dietary fiber concentrations is effective in managing acute colitis in dogs.

Finally, high-fiber dog food helps to avoid impacted anal sacs in dogs. Increased nutrient intake helps dogs with chronic anal gland illness make larger stools, putting more pressure on the glands and helping them function normally. Infected or damaged anal glands are caused by various factors, including but not limited to the dog's diet.

But what are the other benefits of fiber in a dog's diet?

High-Fiber Dog Food: Aiding in Digestion

High-fiber dog food can have a positive impact on their digestive system. Soluble fibers feed the good bacteria in the canine gut. When good bacteria in your dog's colon break down fiber into fatty acids, they help keep bad bacteria at bay.

Also, dogs with both diarrhea and constipation can benefit from fiber since it absorbs excess water and removes anything that could create obstruction.

Furthermore, dogs who eat a diet rich in high-fiber foods are more likely to have a healthy colon. Because it speeds up elimination, it helps limit your dog's exposure to any carcinogens they have absorbed. In turn, this lowers the risk of developing colon cancer. The faster food moves through intestinal tracts, the less time there is to allow contact between the colon wall and any harmful compounds that could cause cancer.

High-Fiber Dog Food: Maintaining a Healthy Weight

overweight and diabetic dogs may need high-fiber dog foods
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Another benefit of high-fiber dog food is it helps your dog to feel full without consuming extra calories. Fiber absorbs water and expands, making them feel fuller and helping them to stop eating sooner. If you're unsure about how much to cut your pet's food intake or are afraid about accidentally starving them, offering them a high-fiber diet will ensure they're getting their fill.

According to a study conducted by Mickaël Weber, diets high in protein and fiber reduce how much dogs want to eat and positively affect weight control. Therefore, the appropriate amount of dietary fiber can help your dog maintain a healthy weight. As a result, your pet will be less likely to gain weight or become obese from overindulging.

If you want to read more about how to help your overweight dog lose weight, you can read our article here.

High-Fiber Dog Food: Improving Diabetes Mellitus

A high insoluble-fiber diet helps regulate glycemic levels in dogs with naturally occurring insulin-dependent Diabetes Mellitus.

Fiber is not processed in the same manner that refined carbohydrates are processed. Insoluble fiber can pass through the digestive system intact. Since the nutrient cannot be absorbed or broken down, it helps control spikes in blood sugar.

Additionally, high-fiber dog food can reduce a dog's insulin sensitivity.

High-fiber dog foods: Potential risks

Beware of dog foods that contain too much fiber as a filler. Because of the high fiber content, dogs can get full too soon before they're able to get the nutrients they need.

Nutritional deficits such as low-taurine levels or iron deficiencies are frequently linked to pet diets that contain excessive fiber or certain kinds of fiber.

Additionally, puppies are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of high-fiber diets. To support their growth and development, only a moderate amount of fiber is necessary.

If you want to read more about how high-fiber dog food linked to grain-free diets may be causing dangerous taurine deficiencies, you can read our article here.

High-Fiber Dog Food: What you need to know about insoluble vs. soluble fiber

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and helps control blood sugar and fat levels in the blood. It can aid the digestion of some nutrients, although it may inhibit the absorption of others. It also helps avoid diarrhea by turning the water into gel. Soluble fibers create short-chain fatty acids (called SCFAs) by fermenting in the gut.

These fatty acids fuel the good bacteria in the gut and starve the bad bacteria. It adds bulk to the stool by becoming gel-like and helping the gut movement. SCFAs also help restore the gut lining and wall.

Common sources of soluble fiber in high-fiber dog food include:

  • Beet pulp
  • Oats/oat bran
  • Pectin
  • Rice bran
  • Chicory
  • Inulin
  • FOS (fructooligosaccharides)
  • Barley
  • Flaxseed
  • Plant gums
  • Psyllium husk

Conversely, insoluble fiber absorbs water instead of dissolving in it. This means it makes a dog feel fuller, reduces calories, and adds to the bulk of the stool.

It also encourages gut motility, so it is the best way to ward off constipation. So, insoluble fiber can help dogs on a weight loss diet, are diabetic, or avoid anal sac impactions.

Common insoluble fiber in high-fiber dog food includes:

  • Cellulose
  • Hemicellulose
  • Lignins

High fiber Dog Food and Dog size

There is a difference between large and small dogs in terms of how well-developed their colon is and their digestive sensitivity. This means that some experts suggest different fibers for small and large breeds.

For large breeds, the aim is to limit anything fermenting in the gut. Therefore, they can benefit from less soluble fiber. Far more insoluble fiber like cellulose may be ideal.

For small breed dogs, the opposite is true. Small dogs should avoid purified starches and cellulose. In contrast, cereal flours as well as soluble fiber from cereals or psyllium, are a better choice for their gut health.

How much fiber should your dog have?

Most commercial dog foods put crude fiber between 2 and 5% of the total diet. Dog's on a high-fiber diet for weight loss, diabetes, or other problems such as anal sac impactions could have as much as 8-10% of their diet be fiber. Sometimes, a short-term high-fiber diet is needed for gastrointestinal issues like colitis.

Indeed, suppose your overweight dog has reached a healthy weight and does not have diabetes or any bowel or anal sac issues that require high-fiber dog food. In that case, it may be better to reduce fiber in the diet to about 4 or 5%

Most experts agree on a mix of soluble and insoluble fibers, but the matter is far from simple.

Dogs who need to lose weight, who have gut issues, diabetes, diarrhea, constipation, anal sac impactions or even exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, can benefit from different types of fiber and high-fiber diets (8% to 10%). However, this does not mean one should rush to the store to add a few grams of psyllium.

Similarly, the common advice to add a few teaspoons of pumpkin to your dog's food is unlikely to do much and has little evidence to support it. The rule of thumb is to look for dog food that has a moderate amount of fiber and only switch to high-fiber diets that contain more than 5% if needed.

The List of Best High Fiber Dog Food in 2022

It can be tough to choose the right product for your dog with so many options available. A great way to narrow down your choices is to use our PetAssisistant comparison tool.

The following is a list of some of the best high-fiber foods available right now.

The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Turkey Recipe Dehydrated Dog Food

Honest Kitchen' dehydrated dog food contains a good amount of soluble fiber

This dehydrated dog food has the added benefit of extra moisture once it's rehydrated for feeding. It contains 5% crude fiber from mostly organic, soluble fiber sources such as:

  • organic oats,
  • organic flaxseed,
  • dehydrated carrots,
  • dehydrated cabbage,
  • dried apples,
  • dehydrated organic kelp.

With the added taurine, this is a good choice for healthy smaller dogs.

CORE Digestive Health Small Breed Chicken & Brown Rice

This is another a good choice for healthy small breeds. It contains 4% fiber, which is moderate, but the kibble is coated in helpful probiotics, and the fiber sources include:

  • Brown Rice,
  • Oat Groats,
  • Barley,
  • Dried Plain Beet Pulp,
  • Flaxseed,
  • Pumpkin,
  • Apples,
  • And Inulin.

These are mostly insoluble fibers that are ideal for small breed digestive health.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Healthy Weight Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food

Blue buffalo's healthy weight formula is a good high-fiber dog food for overweight dogs
high-fiber dog food for overweight or diabetic dogs

Although dry foods can come with health risks, this high-fiber dog food has 10% crude, making it a genuinely high-fiber food. This is a viable option for dogs with diabetes or who are overweight. It contains mixed fiber sources such as:

  • Brown Rice,
  • Barley,
  • Pea Fiber,
  • Oatmeal, Peas,
  • Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids),
  • Powdered cellulose,
  • Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal

This is a good mix of soluble and insoluble fibers, so it may suit larger dogs quite well. It is also supplemented with taurine, iron, and L-carnitine, which can help prevent fiber-related deficiencies.

How much fiber should your dog have?

Most commercial dog foods put crude fiber between 2 and 5% of the total diet. Dog's on a high-fiber diet for weight loss, diabetes, or other problems such as anal sac impactions could have as much as 8-10% of their diet be fiber.

Sometimes, a short-term high-fiber diet is also needed for gastrointestinal issues like colitis.

Final Word

Dogs who need to lose weight, who have gut issues, diabetes, diarrhea, constipation, anal sac impactions or even exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, can benefit from different types of fiber and high-fiber diets (8% to 10%). However, this does not mean one should rush to the store to add a few grams of psyllium.

Similarly, the common advice to add a few teaspoons of pumpkin to your dog's food is unlikely to do much and has little evidence to support it.

After all, just one drawback is that different fiber types can affect if certain nutrients are properly absorbed. As mentioned above, rice bran and fibers from potatoes, pulses, and legumes have been linked to critical taurine deficiencies and heart disease. Other fibers are known to block the absorption of iron. This means that dogs on a high-fiber diet need to be carefully watched for signs of a deficiency.

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