As pet parents we all want the best for our canine companions, whether that is choosing the best interactive dog toys, the most comfortable dog beds, or finding a tasty and nutritious food that they will love. One of the elements that you might need to consider in their food is the levels of fiber. There are many reasons why your dog might benefit from a high fiber food, from weight management to support their digestive health. But, if you are considering swapping to a high fiber dog food, how do you know which is the best for your pet pooch? Our panel of dog lovers and animal experts have put together a list of the best high fiber dog foods to get you started.
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Best High Fiber Dog Food Guide & FAQ
Knowing the best available high fiber dog foods certainly gives you a head start, but it also helps to know more about fiber and the reasons why your dog could benefit from a higher fiber diet. In this section of the buying guide, we look at these considerations and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about high fiber dog food.
What Is Fiber?
Fiber is nutrient that is commonly also referred to as bulk or roughage. It should not be confused with other elements that are used to bulk out dog food. These are elements that are added to kibble to make it go further, reducing both the cost and the nutritional benefits.
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate, but instead of being broken down into digestible sugar molecules it passes through the intestinal tract relatively intact. While it is not broken down like other carbohydrates, it does work hard during its transit period.
Fiber plays a key role in regularity, digestion, weight management, and blood sugar regulation. In humans, it is also important in cholesterol maintenance and has been linked to a decrease in the risk of certain cancers and improved longevity. It plays a similarly important role in dogs and other mammals.
Plants are the most common source of dietary fiber, however, in the wild, the bone, cartilage, tendons, fur, and ligaments of prey animals also function as a source of fiber. However, in domestic dogs, being feed primarily commercially available foods, these fiber sources are no longer available and as pet parents, we need to ensure that their balanced diets include suitable alternative sources.
The Benefits of High-Fiber Dog Foods
Fiber has little nutritional value in the traditional sense and is indigestible, yet without it your dog would have difficulties digesting the nutrients they need and passing waste from their body would be much harder. Fiber regulates how fast food transits through the digestive tract and what happens to it during its transit. Depending on the type of fiber this transit can either be slowed down or speeded up.
Fiber increases water and bulk in intestinal contents allowing it to slow the rate of the process in animals whose bodies would otherwise push food through the digestive tract too fast. Similarly, in animals whose digestive processes are too slow, fiber can increase the speed of transit. This is why fiber is recommended for cases constipation and diarrhea.
Fiber can aid in weight loss and help your dog to maintain a healthy weight because of its bulking ability. It helps your dog to eat less by making them feel fuller quicker. Where the fiber comes from a high-quality source, it does this without affecting the balance of nutrients that they need to remain healthy.
Certain fibers can also be broken down into fatty acids in the intestine. This helps prevent unfriendly bacteria from overgrowing, supporting the longer-term health of the digestive system in your pet. Fiber can achieve this because it gives time for water and nutrients to pass from the large intestine into the bloodstream. Fiber also binds some toxins found in your dog’s gut, allowing them to be removed from the body when your dog defecates.
There are different types of fiber, each of which does a different job within the digestive system.
- Soluble fiber – promotes the smooth transit of food through the gastrointestinal tract
- Insoluble fiber – speeds up the rate of passage of food through the gastrointestinal tract
- Fermentable fiber – is broken down by bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract and contains nutrients that can be used as energy
Common Sources of Fiber for Dog Foods
The fiber in dog food can come from a wide range of sources including:
- Buckwheat and other grain hulls
- Beet pulp
- Oats and other brans
- Fruit pectin
- Guar gum
- Peanut shells
- Powdered cellulose
- Tomato pomace
Tips for High Fiber Dog Food Diet
Consistency is important when feeding your dog. So, if you need to change their diet, it is important to do this slowly and over time. A sudden change in fiber levels could have the opposite effect to what you are trying to produce. This could be uncomfortable and unpleasant for your dog, and messy for you.
Start by evaluating what your dog has been eating, check the fiber levels of their main food and any treats that they have. They may have a low fiber food, but if they regularly enjoy canned pumpkin added to their food or as a treat, they may already be getting enough fiber in their diet.
To change over to a higher fiber food, introduce the food gradually, mixing a small amount with their existing food. Gradually, increase the amount of the new food, while decreasing the existing food to ensure that you maintain the balance and do not overfeed your dog.
As with any dog food, quality is key. Look for a dog food that has natural ingredients and sources fiber from whole food sources. If your dog has allergies or food sensitivities, then choose a grain free option. They can still experience the benefits of high-fiber, these dog foods use fruit and vegetable sources, such as green beans, pumpkins, and sweet potato.
Balance is also important. Your dog still needs the balance of vitamins, minerals, and proteins that they would gain from any other quality food. Protein should be from a high-quality source; the best foods use real meat, rather than meat by-products.
Best High Fiber Dog Food FAQ:
Q: How much fiber is in regular dog food?
A: Regular dog food contains around 5% fiber. This is a good amount for most dogs. You may want to consider a high fiber diet with a dog that has digestive issues, frequent constipation or diarrhoea, diabetes, or needs to lose weight.
Q: How can I add more fiber to my dog diet?
A: You can opt for a high quality commercially available high fiber dog food, such as those on our list. Alternatively, you can use a commercially available supplement to add to your dogs existing food. You can also increase your dog’s fiber intake by adding fruits and vegetables to their existing diet – such as green beans and sweet potato. Oat bran and other similar fiber sources can also be added to your dog’s diet, but it is a good idea to speak to your vet first to ensure that you get the balance right for your dog.
Q: What causes my dog to generate such a large volume of the stool?
A: The first thing to remember is that the average size of your dog’s stool is going to depend on the size of your dog. A teacup poodle should produce much smaller stools than a mastiff. It is important to monitor stool production in your dog so that you know what is normal for them.
A large volume of stool can mean that your dog is not absorbing and digesting food as they need to. Improving the fiber content or the quality of their food could be all that is needed. However, it can also be a sign of more serious underlying problems, so changes in your dog’s stool size, color, or consistency should be reported to your vet for further testing, just to rule out anything serious.
Q: How can dog food fiber help a diabetic dog?
A: If your dog has diabetes, it is important to control the amount of glucose in the blood and to maintain consistent levels as much as possible. Fiber helps in this process because it slows the entrance of glucose into the bloodstream. By doing this it helps your dog to feel fuller more quickly, reducing their food intake, and reducing the risk of spikes in their blood sugar. Fiber should form part of a healthy, balanced diet and you should speak to your vet before making any major changes to the diet of a diabetic dog.
Q: How does dietary fiber help control inflame anal glands?
A: Your dog’s anal glands are the small oval sacs that are situated on either side of the anus, just inside their rectum. The glands produce an oily substance, which is released when they have a bowel movement. If your dog’s stools are either too soft or too hard the fluid release is not triggered. The sacs where it collects can become inflamed, infected, or even rupture if this happens regularly. Dietary fiber helps by supporting your dog’s digestive processes helping to reduce the risk of constipation of diarrhea.
Our Top Pick
Our top pick for a high fiber dog food is Blue Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Adult Dry Dog Food. The recipe has real meat as it top ingredient. It contains deboned chicken, chicken meal, and L-Carnitine to help your dog develop and maintain lean muscle mass. The food is made without extra calories, containing wholesome vegetables and fruits to help your dog achieve a healthy weight and then maintain that weight. The fruit and vegetables also provide a healthy and natural fiber source to support your dog’s digestive processes. The food contains Blue Wilderness’ unique LifeSource Bits, which contain a specific blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, designed to support your dog’s immune system. As with all Blue Wilderness foods, there are no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives in the mix. The food is also free from chicken by-products, corn, soy, and wheat. Making it the perfect choice for dogs with food intolerances and allergies.