While dogs have no physiological need for carbohydrates, they can benefit from having fiber in their diets. Fiber is a complex carbohydrate found in plants with both soluble and insoluble fiber matter.
Is fiber healthy for dogs?
Insoluble fiber passes through the body mostly unchanged and it helps bulk up the fecal matter to stimulate the body’s elimination process. The increased bulk also helps the anal glands function normally and reduces the risk of impaction. Dr. Gary Richter, Founder of Ultimate Pet Nutrition, says feeding higher fiber is one strategy to helping anal gland issues.
Soluble fiber is broken down by the beneficial bacteria living in the large intestine into short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). These SCFA are used as energy by the cells lining the large intestine. Some SCFAs are prebiotics that feed the beneficial bacteria that are a part of the immune system.
Health benefits of high-fiber dog food
Depending on how it’s formulated, fiber that is present in fresh, dry or canned dog food diets can:
- Provide antioxidants
- Aid digestion and regulate bowels
- Strengthen immune system and clean the gut
- Improve anal gland issues
Dogs can produce their own glucose for cellular energy, so any fiber added to their diets needs to have a low glycemic index — meaning that it won’t spike their blood sugar.
What dog food is high in fiber
High-fiber dog diets should contain no more than 10% fiber. Too much fiber can inhibit the natural digestion process and create problems such as diarrhea and constipation.
The best high-fiber foods for dogs are:
- green beans
Squash, carrots, beetroot, apples, oatmeal and kelp are also great sources of fiber. Dr. TJ Bowe says psyllium is another good source of fiber. Any of these can be added to your dog’s meal in small portions to boost fiber. (Check with your veterinarian for best portion size for your dog based on health, age and weight.)
While fresh food is always good, there are canned and dry food options. For example, Solid Gold Holistic pet food has a line of Fit and Fabulous recipes with good sources of proteins, fats and fiber. Both the wet and dry versions provide fiber to help dogs feel full longer, which can help Fido to maintain a healthy weight.
How to tell if your dog is getting enough fiber
A healthy active dog will have regular bowel movements that are brown and firm enough to pick up. His weight will remain fairly consistent also. Talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s fiber needs if he constantly has diarrhea or is frequently constipated.