Fiber is one of those nutrients that is absolutely essential for taking care of your doggy’s overall well-being. The main sources of dietary fiber are plants and plant-based products such as wholegrain cereals, fruits and vegetables. Surprisingly, though it plays a crucial role in your doggo’s digestive system, fiber itself cannot be digested. It passes out of the body unabsorbed via the large intestine where it helps to form waste products. So essential is fiber in ensuring proper excretion, that altering your doggy’s fiber intake alone will be enough to cure it of both constipation or diarrhea. Fiber also has many other roles to play in your doggo’s body apart from regulating stool and aiding digestion, as you shall read below.
So let’s get started!
As a Stool Normalizer:
Normalizing stool is one of the most important of fiber’s functions. There are two types of fiber that make this happen in two distinct ways.
Soluble fiber is what absorbs water and undergoes fermentation,giving rise to gasses in the colon and a gel-like substance that binds nutrients from the undigested food in the large intestine. Being a complex carbohydrate, fiber breaks down slowly, and in this way establishes itself as a steady source of energy for the body. Soluble fiber also clears excess water from the GI tract, hardening stool in case your pooch is suffering from diarrhea.
Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, absorbs water from outside the colon and puts it into the stool, attracting moisture and softening constipated stool. Insoluble fiber also helps with gut inflammation and keeping the mucous membrane clean.
As a Digestive Aid
The good bacteria present in your pooch’s gut use fiber as a source of food. While digesting it, they produce short chain fatty acids (SFCAs) which are considered to be intestinal fuel. On the other hand, by maintaining a healthy level of intestinal pH in the gut, fiber blocks the growth of bad bacteria. Prebiotics, which support the good and slay the bad bacteria, are actually just fermentable fibers, and have proven to be an important intervention for dogs facing intestinal bowel disease (IBD).
As a Keeper of Colon Health
As we saw above, fiber helps produce SFCAs which are very useful in keeping the colon healthy. They help the colon to repair itself apart from contributing to its healthy microbial environment. Your doggy’s colon microbiome provides protection against intestinal pathogens, modulates the immune system, increases gut motility and also releases anti-inflammatory effects (to know more about maintaining healthy joints for your dog). Fiber also benefits the colon directly by acting as a brush scrubbing away bacteria and other harmful build-up over the colon wall.
An Anti-Diabetic Agent:
Fiber, as a non-digestible, complex, carbohydrate stays in the system for a long period of time. This has the advantage of preventing blood sugar spikes following meals. Foods high in insoluble fiber move through the digestive tract quickly, which is a good thing for diabetic dogs. Recent research has shown that a high-fiber diet risks making (certain) dogs insulin-resistant, making diabetes management difficult for them. However, this does not take away from fiber’s anti-diabetic capacities in general. You can always visit the vet to find out what works for your pooch and what doesn’t.
As a Weight-Loss Companion:
Did you know that fiber, by absorbing water and expanding inside its tummy, tricks your fur baby into feeling full? It thus produces the effect of satiety and keeps your doggo from overeating. Evidence has shown that dogs observing a high-fiber (& high-protein) diet tend to lose more body fat than otherwise. In short, pursuing weight-loss plans without taking active steps to increase fiber uptake seems counterintuitive.
Fiber: the all-rounder:
Even where the vital organs are concerned, fiber can work wonders. In case of kidney dysfunction, fermentable fibers promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut that destroy the excess nitrogen which is harming the kidneys. Even insoluble fiber, by minimizing cholesterol absorption, does your pooch’s precious heart a whole lot of good.
And now that we’ve seen the many ways in which fiber is fabulous for your four-legged companion, let us hunt down some foods where it may be found and in what kind: s=soluble; in=insoluble; in/s= both.
Pumpkin (In/s): While it is best to feed your pup the fresh fruit version, you can also give it plain pureed pumpkin. Just be sure to stay away from pumpkin pie, especially the sugar-free, canned, kind that contains xylitol, a deadly sweetener.
Flaxseeds (In/s): Being fibrous, antioxidant and full of omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseeds will maintain your doggo’s blood pressure and the shine on its skin and coat.(find out more about keeping your pet’s skin and coat healthy) Sprinkle them on the food or mix them with peanut butter, what is essential is that they are ground and not whole.
Carrots (S): High in fiber while being low in calories, carrots are also good for the kidneys and the heart. They are also a treasure trove of cartenoids and lutein (an anti-inflammatory) which makes them great for your pup’s eyes and joints.(read more about eye-friendly foods)
Sweet Potatoes (In/s): Apart from fiber, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron and vitamins are found in large amounts in sweet potatoes which are best fed smashed after being steamed or boiled. Just don’t feed them raw and risk choking your pet.
Lettuce (In): Did you know that fibrous foods have their own benefits for the teeth and also strengthen the gums? Fiber can do away with the plaque that would otherwise harden into tartar and the action of chewing (promoted by fibrous foods) produces more saliva, killing the acids and bacteria that have settled on the teeth. Avoid feeding an entire head of lettuce, though. Occasionally adding a crunchy leaf or two to the salad seems about right.
This is because while making any changes in your doggo’s diet, it is always recommended to start slowly and not without first consulting the vet.(learn the art of transitioning your doggy between meals) In case of fiber, keeping a tab on the texture and consistency of the stool is a must since it is the best and quickest indicator of something being wrong.
Also, it’s good to be aware that too much insoluble fiber leads to a dull coat, GI tract issues and (excessive) weight loss caused by diminished nutrient and calorie absorption. Too much soluble fiber, on the other hand, will cramp up your fur baby’s tummy. Fermentable fiber, while a great remedy for dogs with compromised kidneys, may interfere with protein absorption when consumed carelessly.
Why should you be worried about your doggy’s fiber needs when we, at PetChef, have promised to care for every aspect of their nutrition? Did you know that PetChef’s Meals combine some of the most fibrous foods that we saw above like carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkins alongside the utterly delicious and wholly healthy animal muscle and organ meat?
Since we recommend starting slow, you could first try us with the Trial Pack. And once you’ve fallen for the healthy delicacies produced inside PetChef’s kitchen, even your pooch will love you the more for it!