You are probably familiar with the benefits of dietary fiber in helping to regulate and improve your own digestion, but did you know that fiber provides the same kind of benefits for dogs? Dietary fiber can help to regulate your dog’s digestion by adding bulk to his stools if they are too loose or by adding moisture if they are too firm. Most commercial dry dog foods contain enough fiber to provide these benefits, though not all dog foods are created equal. If your dog has gastrointestinal problems, diabetes, or if he needs to lose weight, you might want to consider a commercial dry dog food that has an above-average fiber content. Keep reading to learn about the nutritional needs of dogs and the benefits your dog might receive from increased fiber intake. You will also find tips for choosing a high-fiber dog food and recommendations for quality products with above-average fiber content.
The Basic Nutritional Needs of Dogs
Like all living things, dogs require a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate in their diet as well as key vitamins and minerals. Because dogs are largely carnivorous, the most important nutrient for dogs is protein – specifically, animal-based proteins. Protein is made up of amino acids – there are 10 which your dog’s body is unable to synthesize on its own and these are called essential amino acids because they must come from your dog’s diet. Animal proteins like meat, poultry, fish and eggs are called complete proteins because they contain all 10 essential amino acids. Plant proteins may contain a few amino acids, but they are not as biologically valuable for dogs and they are not as easy to digest. This is why a high-quality animal protein should always be first on the ingredients list for quality dog foods.
After protein, the next most important nutrient for dogs is fat. While you have probably been drilled with the idea that fats are bad, they are actually very important for dogs because they provide a highly concentrated source of energy. Like protein, the best fats for dogs are animal-based – things like chicken fat or salmon oil. In addition to providing your dog with energy, essential fatty acids are also carriers for fat-soluble vitamins and they also play a role in cellular structure and function. Plus, fats help to enhance the flavor and texture of your dog’s food, making it more palatable for him. Omega fatty acids are particularly important for maintaining the health of your dog’s skin and coat, plus they can boost your dog’s immune system health as well.
Because dogs are primarily carnivorous animals, they do not have any specific needs for carbohydrate or dietary fiber. The Merck Veterinary Manual recommends a minimum of 18% protein for adult dogs and 22% for puppies with a minimum of 5% fat for adult dogs and 8% for puppies. When it comes to carbohydrates, however, there is no minimum. What is more important than how much carbohydrate a dog food contains is what kind of carbohydrate it is. Whole grains (like brown rice and oatmeal) are generally considered very digestible for dogs, as are fresh fruits and vegetables. If your dog has a sensitive stomach or suffers from food allergies, however, you may want to avoid grains. Some good alternatives in this case are sweet potatoes, tapioca, green peas, or white potatoes. For most dogs, a fiber content below 5% is considered ideal.
The Potential Benefits of Fiber for Dogs
Even if you aren’t an expert in animal nutrition, you probably have a general understanding that dietary fiber plays a role in supporting your dog’s healthy digestion. But how exactly does fiber produce these benefits and what other benefits does it have to offer? Here is an overview of some of the many health benefits increased fiber intake may provide for your dog:
- Relief from constipation and diarrhea – Soluble fiber absorbs excess water from both outside and inside your dog’s colon, helping to increase the moisture content of your dog’s stool which helps improve his regularity. Insoluble fiber helps to add bulk to your dog’s food which helps food move more quickly through his digestive system.
- Reduced risk for colon cancer – Increased fiber intake helps to move foods through your dog’s digestive system more quickly which means that there is less time for carcinogenic materials to be absorbed through the intestinal tract. As soluble fiber ferments in the digestive system, it produces short-chain fatty acids which provide fuel for intestinal cells to help facilitate healing.
- Improved weight loss results – Overweight and obesity can be extremely dangerous for dogs because it increases the risk that they will develop other health problems. Increasing the fiber content of dog food reduces the caloric density but still keeps your dog feeling full and satisfied. As a result of decreased calorie intake, your dog will lose weight.
- Decreased inflammation of anal glands – Your dog has scent glands on either side of his anus which can sometimes become inflamed, causing him pain and discomfort. Fiber can absorb water and add bulk to your dog’s stools and the larger stools actually put pressure on those sacs during defecation, helping to encourage natural drainage to prevent painful blockages.
- Regulated blood sugar levels – Diabetes is not uncommon in dogs and, for some dogs, increasing his fiber intake can actually help to reduce his symptoms. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stools which slows the digestive process – the slower your dog’s digestion, the lesser the impact on his blood sugar levels. Fast-digesting foods can cause a spike in blood sugar level.
Fiber plays an important role in your dog’s diet but it is important to strike the balance between giving him enough fiber and giving him too much. Talk to your veterinarian about any medical problems your dog may have and to determine whether an increase in fiber intake might be helpful.
How Much Fiber Do Dogs Need and What Kind?
Wolves hunt wild prey for food, so their diet is largely carnivorous, or animal-based. For the most part, any plant materials that wild wolves ingest comes from the stomach contents of their prey. Still, even wild wolves eat plant materials from time to time if nothing else is available. It is important to remember, however, that dogs have a fairly short digestive tract so their physical ability to digest plant materials is somewhat limited. For this reason, you need to be careful about feeding your dog too much fiber while still making sure that he gets enough of it. The right balance of fiber will help to regulate your dog’s digestion but too much fiber in his diet can cause the opposite problem.
If you review the guaranteed analysis for several traditional dry dog food products, you will find a standard crude fiber content ranging anywhere from 1% to 10%. Pet nutrition experts, however, recommend an average fiber content of 2% to 4% – some say that 5% is the maximum recommended amount. When it comes to high fiber dog food, most of the recipes with higher fiber content are reduced-calorie or weight management formulas. These recipes typically reduce the fat content to accomplish a lower calorie content and they increase the fiber content to add bulk to the product while also making sure to satisfy your dog’s hunger. If you want to increase your dog’s fiber intake, one of these products could be a good choice but you still need to make sure that the recipe is made from high-quality ingredients and that it will meet your dog’s need for protein.
Tips for Choosing a High Fiber Dog Food
Shopping for a high-quality pet food product may seem as simple as just walking into a pet store and picking something off the shelf. What you may not realize, however, is that all dog foods are NOT created equal. If you want to make sure that you spend your money wisely on a product that will provide your dog with the nutrients he needs, you have to take the time to read pet food labels and make smart comparisons. Do not take for truth the claims pet food manufacturers print on their packages because these things are not closely regulated. Just because a company says their product is all-natural, that doesn’t necessarily make it true. Words like “natural” and “quality” are subjective so you can’t assume that you have the same definition for these terms as the pet food companies do.
When shopping for a high-quality dog food you need to review the ingredients list. These lists are organized in descending order by volume which places the ingredients used in the highest volume at the top of the list. Keep in mind, however, that when the dog food is cooked, most of the moisture from the original ingredients will be cooked out, making the final volume for those ingredients significantly lower. For this reason, you want to make sure that a high-quality animal-based protein is the first ingredient – it also doesn’t hurt to see supplementary protein sources on the list. Fats should come from animal-based sources as well, and carbohydrates should all be highly digestible. Avoid any products made with low-quality fillers and artificial additives.
In addition to checking the ingredients list for different pet food products, you also want to check the guaranteed analysis – this is the section on the label that will tell you how much crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber, and moisture is in the product. If you are looking for a high fiber dog food, you probably want to find something with a crude fiber content above 5% (but do not go above 10%). After you check the fiber content, take a look at the protein and fat content as well to make sure that they are in balance. The higher the protein content, the better and high-quality commercial dog foods will have a crude protein content of 22% or more. For the crude fat content, you want it to be moderate but not too high – something in the 8% to 12% range is average for high fiber dog foods.
Regardless what type of high fiber food you choose for your dog, you need to be very careful in making the transition to the new food. If your dog is already suffering from digestive problems, you do not want to add to them by making a sudden change to his diet. Most veterinarians recommend transitioning your dog onto a new food over a period of 5 to 7 days. Begin by adding mixing about 25% of your dog’s new food with his current recipe for a day or two, then bump it up to 50% of each. As long as your dog is able to tolerate the increased amount, move up to 75% of the new product and 25% of the old. After another day or two, if your dog isn’t having a negative reaction, you can complete the switch and start feeding him the new product alone.
Top Recommended Brands of High Fiber Dog Food
While it is easy to find grain-free dog food and high-protein dog food, many pet food manufacturers do not actually label their high-fiber foods as such. This being the case, you will need to check the ingredients list and the guaranteed analysis of individual products when making your decision. Remember, you want to make sure that the product is a high-quality product then check the fiber content to see if it is high enough for your dog – you don’t want to waste your time with a product that won’t be good for your dog. To help you get started with your search you will find reviews of some of the top brands of high fiber dog food below:
20% Off Coupon + Free Shipping
on High Fiber Dog Food
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet Dry
The Natural Balance pet food company was found by Dick Van Patten in 1989 with the goal of producing quality, natural diets for dogs and cats. This company believes in the power of high-quality ingredients and careful formulation t guarantee “food for a lifetime” – that is food that nourishes your dog’s body from the inside out, helping him to remain happy and healthy for as long as possible Natural Balance uses high-quality meats and unique proteins as well as complex carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats in each of their recipes. They do not use any corn, wheat, or soy ingredients which reduces the risk for triggering food allergies or sensitivities, and they don’t use any artificial additives or preservatives. Furthermore, Natural Balance offers their customers the “Buy With Confidence” program which enables them to look up the laboratory testing results for the specific batch of dog food they purchased.
If you are looking for a high-quality commercial dry dog food with above-average fiber content, consider any one of Natural Balance’s Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Food recipes. With over a dozen recipes to choose from, you can select the flavor that best suits your dog’s individual preferences. These formulas are made with premium proteins like lamb, chicken, and salmon as well as digestible carbohydrates like brown rice and ground white rice. They also contain plenty of essential fatty acids to support your dog’s healthy skin and coat. Simply put, your dog will love Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Food and you will love it too for the way it makes him look and feel.
Wellness CORE Grain-Free Reduced Fat Formula Dry
The Wellness Company’s origins can be traced back for more than 80 years with the release of Old Mother Hubbard oven-baked dog biscuits. In the decades since, Wellness has established a reputation for itself as one of the premium holistic brands of dog food. This company actually sparked a revolution in the pet food industry by “taking carefully selected, authentic ingredients from only trustworthy sources with an ideal nutritional balance”. Wellness uses only whole food ingredients in their recipe and they are all formulated with input from animal nutrition experts. This company offers their customers what they call the “Wellness Difference” which promises wholesome and natural ingredients, a boost of superfood nutrition, a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and live active probiotics to support healthy and regular digestion.
For a high-quality commercial dog food that is also high in fiber, consider the Wellness CORE Grain-Free Reduced Fat Formula Dry Food recipe. This recipe contains about 25% fewer calories than the original adult dog formula but it is still very nutrient-dense and enhanced with beneficial supplements. This grain-free formula features turkey and chicken as the primary protein, supplemented with potatoes and peas, plus additional sources of dietary fiber. It is free from by-products and artificial additives, plus it doesn’t contain any corn, wheat, or soy ingredients. Overall, this product contains a whopping 33% protein, 10% fat, and 8.5% fiber. If you are looking for a high fiber dog food that is made from premium ingredients and is rich in natural flavor, look no further than this Wellness CORE Grain-Free Reduced Fat Formula Dry Food.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy Weight Chicken Recipe Dry
The Blue Buffalo Company has become one of the leading names in natural pet nutrition. This company began simply but has rapidly grown to offer an impressive selection of products divided over four different product lines. The Life Protection line of dog food products features all-natural recipes and the Freedom line includes a number of different grain-free options. The Basics line is made up of various limited ingredient diets (LIDs) and the Wilderness line consists of meat-rich diets inspired by the diet of wild wolves. According to the brand website, all of Blue Buffalo’s dry foods are “made with the unique combination of the finest natural ingredients and [their] exclusive antioxidant-rich LifeSource bits”. Simply put, Blue Buffalo’s dog food products are made with the best ingredients available to make sure your dog gets the quality nutrients he needs and nothing he does.
If you are in the market for a healthy high fiber dog food, consider the Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy Weight Chicken Recipe Dry Food recipe. This formula belongs to the Wilderness line of products which is designed to mimic the protein-rich ancestral diet of wild wolves. Made with deboned chicken and chicken meal as the top two ingredients, this recipe delivers an impressive 30% crude protein minimum and 9% crude fat. This recipe is supplemented with tapioca starch, peas, and potatoes as the main sources of carbohydrate with pea fiber and tomato pomace for extra dietary fiber. In addition to offering 10% crude fiber, this formula helps to support your dog’s lean muscle mass as well as the condition of his skin and coat. With plenty of natural nutrients, this recipe will also protect your dog’s bones and joints as well as his teeth.
Nutro Adult Lite Lamb & Whole Brown Rice Formula Dry
The Nutro Company was founded in 1926 and it has since then made a name for itself among the ranks of top-quality natural dog food manufacturers. This brand is made from high-quality ingredients and fortified with vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients to ensure complete and balanced nutrition for your dog. According to the brand website, Nutro products give your dog “premium natural nutrition that’s tailored to their life stage, breed size, and health condition. When it comes to their products, Nutro offers several different product lines. The Nutro line of natural dog foods features real meat, poultry or fish as the number-1 ingredient and they are free from artificial additives as well as corn, wheat, and soy ingredients. The Rotations line includes three different recipes intended for use as part of a rotational diet and the Farm’s Harvest line includes a number of freeze-dried recipes.
For a high-quality commercial dog food that offers above-average fiber content, consider the Nutro Adult Lite Lamb & Whole Brown Rice Formula Dry Food recipe. This formula features a reduced calorie content but still offers 23% crude protein and 10% crude fiber. As promised, it features fresh lamb and lamb meal as the top two ingredients, followed by whole brown rice, rice bran, and split peas – it also contains chickpeas, whole grain oatmeal, and beet pulp for supplementary carbohydrate and fiber. With its reduced calorie count and high fiber content, this recipe is ideal for overweight and obese dogs because it will keep them feeling full while creating a calorie deficit in their diet. Even so, your dog will love the authentic flavor this recipe has to offer and you will love the health benefits it provides.
Fromm Gold Coast Grain-Free Weight Management Dry
Fromm Family Foods, LLC is a family-owned company known for producing high-quality pet food products. This company’s history goes as far back as 1852 and it was one of the earliest innovators in the pet industry, responsible for developing the first canine distemper vaccine. In recent years, the Fromm Company has become better known for its pet food products which can be divided into three product lines. The Classic line includes an adult and mature adult recipe developed from the original Fromm dog food formula. The Four-Star line of products features interchangeable recipes made with premium proteins and intended for use as part of a rotational diet. The Gold line of products follows a holistic approach to pet nutrition, using high-quality ingredients to deliver premium nutrition that nourishes your dog’s body from the inside out. This product line offers various recipes for dogs in different life stages as well as size-specific and weight management recipes.
If you need a high fiber dog food that also delivers premium-quality nutrition, look no further than this Fromm Gold Coast Grain-Free Weight Management Dry Dog Food recipe. This formula is a grain-free, ocean fish recipe designed to encourage healthy weight reduction and weight maintenance. It features whitefish and salmon meal as the primary sources of protein, delivering a crude protein content of 25% and a fat content of 10%. With digestible carbohydrates like lentils, peas, chickpeas, and potatoes, this recipe offers 7% crude fiber as well. According to the Fromm website, this formula “helps control calorie intake without sacrificing other valuable nutrients”. Simply put, if you want a dog food product that will keep your dog feeling satisfied while also giving him the benefits of increased fiber intake, this Fromm Gold Coast Grain-Free Weight Management Dry Dog Food is a great option to consider.
No matter what kind of dog food you are looking for, you need to cultivate a basic understanding of your dog’s nutritional needs before you start to shop. Once you know what your dog’s needs are you can more effectively evaluate different pet food products. Make sure that any product you choose for your dog starts with a quality protein and that it provides a balance of essential fatty acids as well – after checking for that you can take a look at the crude fiber content as per the guaranteed analysis. If you decide that high fiber food is the best option for your dog, consider starting with one of the recommended dog food brands reviewed above.