I first learned about Citrus pectin through a breeder in the Boston Terrier community who shared her positive experience with Citrus Pectin to resolve severe diarrhea in her pregnant dog. The product was referred to her by her veterinarian who had seen a lot of success with it.
Citrus pectin is a natural soluble fiber extracted from the peels of citrus fruits. It offers numerous health benefits for both humans and animals, including supporting digestive health, detoxification, and overall gut health. This comprehensive guide will discuss the different types of fiber, the benefits of citrus pectin in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and its safety and efficacy for dogs.
Three Types of Fiber: Psyllium Husk, Ground Flaxseed, and Citrus Pectin
I currently utilize psyllium husk or ground flaxseed in my recipes. Understanding the differences between psyllium husk, ground flaxseed, and citrus pectin can help dog owners make informed decisions about their pets’ dietary needs and supplementation.
- Psyllium husk is a soluble fiber that forms a gel-like substance in the digestive system, promoting regularity and improving stool consistency.
- Ground flaxseed contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, offering various health benefits, including supporting heart health, digestion, and maintaining blood sugar levels.
- Citrus pectin is a soluble fiber that helps regulate digestion, supports detoxification and binds to harmful substances in the gastrointestinal tract.
Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber
Soluble fiber dissolves in water, forming a gel-like substance that slows down the passage of food through the gastrointestinal tract. It helps regulate digestion, lower cholesterol levels, and control blood sugar levels. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and adds bulk to the stool, promoting regular bowel movements and preventing constipation.
Negative Ions and Citrus Pectin
I’m always trying to understand what makes one fiber different from another. Citrus pectin is rich in negative ions that can bind to positively charged particles, such as heavy metals and toxins, facilitating their removal from the body.
This aspect was of great interest to me since I regularly feed salmon. Feeding citrus pectin will allow me to detox any heavy metals that may have accumulated in their bodies.
Other ingredients that exhibit similar properties include activated charcoal and certain types of clay (bentonite clay), chlorella and zeolite which are also used for detoxification purposes.
The advantage that citrus pectin has over (bentonite clay), chlorella, and zeolite is that these three binding abilities are not entirely selective and can still bind to essential minerals like calcium and zinc. Studies have found that citrus pectin and MCP is more selective and they have not found that it lowers the level of trace minerals like calcium and zinc which is why it’s the preferred way to detox heavy metals safely.
Citrus pectin can inhibit galectin-3, which has been shown to chelate heavy metals and help remove them from the body as a separate function.
Citrus Pectin and Biofilms
Citrus pectin can decrease biofilms as follows. First let’s understand what Galectin 3 and biofilms are.
Galectin-3 is known for its special ability to bind to particular carbohydrate structures on cell surfaces. Galectin-3 has a role to control various biological processes, such as cell growth, inflammation, immune response, and cell adhesion.
Biofilms in the body are like little cities, with bacteria attaching to surfaces and building protective walls made of polysaccharides, proteins, and nucleic acids. These walls, known as the extracellular matrix, kept the inhabitants of the biofilm safe from external threats, such as antimicrobial treatments and the host immune system.
The connection between galectin-3 and biofilms comes from the protein’s ability to bind to certain carbohydrate structures found in the extracellular matrix of biofilms. Galectin-3 has been observed to interact with bacterial biofilms, potentially promoting biofilm formation and increasing bacterial adhesion to host cells. This interaction may contribute to the persistence of infections and the development of chronic inflammatory conditions.
Citrus pectin can bind to galectin 3 which prevents galectin 3 from interacting with other cellular components and carrying out its usual activities, such as promoting inflammation and cell adhesion. It can also bind to the carbohydrate structures within the biofilm matrix, potentially disrupting the biofilm’s integrity.
What this means is that citrus pectin can also help dogs that have Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), stomach ulcers and yeast. It would do this by inhibiting biofilm and thereby lead to a decrease of any bacteria that has taken over the gut.
- SIBO: There is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, often including various species such as Escherichia coli, Enterococcus spp., and Lactobacillus spp. These bacteria formed biofilms, making it challenging to eradicate the overgrowth and restore balance to the gut ecosystem.
- IBD: While the specific bacteria involved in IBD biofilms can vary, some common ones include adherent-invasive Escherichia coli (AIEC), Clostridium and Enterococcus
- Stomach Ulcers: Overgrowth of H. pylori
Citrus Pectin Safety for Dogs
Citrus pectin is generally safe for dogs when used in appropriate amounts. It may be beneficial for dogs with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) by regulating digestion and supporting overall gut health.
Citrus Pectin Metabolism vs. Enzymes and Probiotics
Citrus pectin, enzymes, and probiotics all support digestion and gut health in distinct ways. Citrus pectin acts as a soluble fiber that regulates digestion and supports detoxification, enzymes facilitate the breakdown and absorption of nutrients, and probiotics help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
Citrus Pectin for Diarrhea Management in Dogs
Citrus pectin may help resolve diarrhea in some cases by slowing down the movement of food through the gastrointestinal tract, allowing more time for the absorption of water and electrolytes. However, the effectiveness of citrus pectin in resolving diarrhea may vary depending on the underlying cause.
Citrus Pectin and Mucus in Dog Stool
While citrus pectin may not directly resolve the presence of mucus in the stool, it may help alleviate some of the underlying issues contributing to gastrointestinal irritation. However, the presence of mucus in your dog’s stool should not be ignored, as it may indicate an underlying health issue that requires closer attention.
Citrus Pectin Safety for Dogs with Liver or Kidney Issues
Citrus pectin can offer various health benefits for dogs, including promoting regular digestion and supporting overall gut health. However, when considering its use for dogs with liver or kidney issues, it’s essential to approach it with caution and consult with your veterinarian.
In some cases, citrus pectin may be beneficial for dogs with liver or kidney problems, as it binds to toxins and heavy metals, potentially reducing the burden on these organs. Nevertheless, it is crucial to consult with your veterinarian before introducing citrus pectin or any other supplement to your dog’s diet, particularly if they have pre-existing liver or kidney issues.
Production Process of Citrus Pectin
I never take supplements at face value. I want to understand how it’s made.
Citrus pectin is derived from the peels of citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and limes. The pectin extraction process involves a series of steps that transform the raw citrus peel material into the final powdered product, which can be used as a dietary supplement or a functional food ingredient. The main steps in the production process include:
- Raw Material Preparation: The peels of citrus fruits are collected, cleaned, and washed to remove any impurities, dirt, or residual fruit flesh. These peels can be obtained as a byproduct of the citrus juice industry or sourced directly from fruit producers.
- Peel Drying: The cleaned peels are dried to reduce their moisture content. This can be done using various methods, such as sun-drying, air-drying, or oven-drying. The dried peels are then ground into a fine powder to facilitate the extraction process.
- Pectin Extraction: The powdered citrus peels are mixed with hot water and an acid, such as hydrochloric acid or citric acid, to extract the pectin from the plant cell walls. The acid helps to break down the cell walls and release the pectin molecules into the water. The mixture is heated and stirred continuously to ensure efficient extraction.
- Filtration and Precipitation: The pectin-containing solution is filtered to remove any solid residue or impurities. The pectin is then precipitated from the liquid by adding ethanol or isopropanol, causing the pectin to solidify and separate from the water.
- Washing and Drying: The precipitated pectin is washed with alcohol to remove any residual acid or impurities. It is then dried using methods such as air-drying, freeze-drying, or spray-drying to obtain the final powdered product.
- Milling and Packaging: The dried pectin is milled to achieve a consistent particle size and texture. The final powdered citrus pectin is then packaged and stored for distribution and use.
The primary ingredient in citrus pectin is pectin itself, which is a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in the cell walls of plants. The final powdered product may contain small amounts of other plant-derived components, such as cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, depending on the purity of the extraction process. High-quality citrus pectin should be free from added sugars, artificial flavors, or other potentially harmful additives.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Benefits of Citrus
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a holistic healing system that has been practiced for thousands of years. It incorporates various treatment methods, including herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage, and dietary therapy. In TCM, citrus fruits and their components are valued for their therapeutic properties and are used to treat a variety of health issues. Some of the key benefits attributed to citrus in TCM include:
- Qi Regulation: In TCM, citrus is believed to help regulate the flow of Qi, or vital energy, throughout the body. Citrus fruits, particularly their peels, are considered to have a warming and invigorating effect, helping to improve circulation and energy levels.
- Digestion Support: Citrus fruits and their components, including citrus pectin, are thought to aid digestion in TCM. They are used to address digestive issues such as bloating, indigestion, and constipation. The soluble fiber in citrus pectin can help regulate bowel movements and support overall gut health.
- Phlegm Dissolving: Citrus fruits are considered effective in dissolving phlegm and relieving congestion in TCM. They are often used to treat respiratory issues, such as coughs and colds, by helping to clear mucus from the lungs and throat.
- Detoxification: Citrus fruits and their peels are believed to have detoxifying properties in TCM. They are used to cleanse the liver and promote the elimination of toxins from the body. Citrus pectin, in particular, is known for its ability to bind to and remove harmful substances from the gastrointestinal tract.
- Immune System Support: Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that plays a crucial role in supporting the immune system. In TCM, they are used to help ward off infections and boost overall immunity.
- Emotional Balance: In TCM, citrus fruits and their aromas are believed to help uplift the mood and restore emotional balance. They are often used to address feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression.
Citrus Pectin and Cancer in Dogs
Note: Some links in this article are affiliate links (Amazon Associates or other programs I participate in). At no charge to you, as an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Citrus pectin has gained attention in recent years for its potential role in cancer prevention and treatment, not only in humans but also in dogs. I first read about it in the Dog Cancer blog and book. (Buy the Kindle version HERE). Although research is still limited, some studies suggest that modified citrus pectin (MCP) may offer benefits for dogs with cancer. The potential benefits of citrus pectin in cancer management for dogs include:
- Inhibition of Cancer Cell Growth and Metastasis: Some studies have shown that modified citrus pectin (MCP), a form of citrus pectin with a specific molecular structure, can inhibit the growth and metastasis of certain cancer cells. MCP is believed to prevent cancer cells from adhering to each other and to healthy cells, thereby reducing their ability to spread to other parts of the body.
- Immune System Support: Citrus pectin may have a positive impact on the immune system by increasing the activity of natural killer (NK) cells and other immune cells. A strong immune system is crucial for dogs with cancer, as it helps their bodies to recognize and eliminate cancerous cells more effectively.
- Detoxification: Citrus pectin’s ability to bind to and remove toxins and heavy metals from the body may contribute to its cancer-fighting properties. By reducing the overall burden of toxins, citrus pectin may help lower the risk of cancer development and support the overall health of dogs with cancer.
- Gut Health: Citrus pectin supports overall gut health by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and increasing the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which have been linked to reduced inflammation and improved immune function. A healthy gut microbiome may play a role in preventing cancer development and progression.
It is important to note that while these potential benefits are promising, more research is needed to fully understand the role of citrus pectin in cancer prevention and treatment for dogs. A holistic and individualized approach to cancer treatment, incorporating dietary changes, supplements, and conventional therapies, may offer the best outcomes for dogs with cancer.
Where To Buy
You can purchase directly through Dogzymes or via Amazon.
How To Feed
This would be a good supplement to have on hand to resolve diarrhea.
For healthy dogs, it can be fed to detox for heavy metals as follows:
- Kibble fed dogs: Once a year seasonally in the spring for 1 week. Add 1/4 the suggested dosage on Dogzyme’s product I linked above.
- Raw and Home Cooked Diets:
- Seasonally (Spring, summer, fall and winter) for 1/2 a week when fish or shellfish isn’t a regular part of the diet.
- Monthly for 1 to 3 days when fish or shellfish is fed daily.
Citrus pectin is a binding agent and prebiotic as well. If you are feeding flaxseed or psyllium husk you won’t need to add it to their meals when you have Citrus pectin.
Keep in mind if your flaxseed for alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), you won’t find that in citrus pectin. You may want to still include flaxseed in the form of oil for those days that you feed citrus pectin. It is not mandatory if you are going for balance overtime but for those that like to do their best to achieve balance with every meal then it would be ideal.
In a study comparing psyllium husk to ground citrus pectin, it was more efficiently utilized by the gut bacteria. In a different study comparing it to cellulose, beet pulp, and citrus pulp it ranked lower.
That said, it also produced more gas byproducts in the fermentation process.
For dogs with IBD, IBS, SIBO or Pancreatitis, this would be a fiber that can be added to the diet.
AMOUNT TO FEED:
Just like with any supplement it’s recommended that it be approached slowly at 1/2 to 1/4 the suggested dosage to begin with when fed intermittently. If your dog has diarrhea, feed the full dosage as per the brand’s guidelines.
Citrus Pectin vs. Modified Citrus Pectin
Pectin is found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and seeds. Citrus pectin is a complex polysaccharide found in the cell walls of citrus fruits, primarily composed of galacturonic acid and other sugar residues.
Modified citrus pectin (MCP) is a form of citrus pectin that has been enzymatically treated to break down its complex structure, resulting in smaller, more soluble fragments with enhanced bioavailability. MCP has gained attention for its potential health benefits, particularly in its ability to interact with galectin-3.
MCP’s binding ability has been studied clinically but as of this writing, I have not found MCP for dogs. And so given the choice, if it is available to you I would purchase Dogzymes which is 100% citrus pectin.
If you live in Europe, Asia or other countries you can use MCP and dose down to your dog. The human supplement is dosed for 120 lb human. If your dog weight this amount or more, then dose the same amount as you would if you were taking it.
If your dog weighs less, adjust the dosage down.
Citrus pectin is a versatile and beneficial natural supplement derived from the peels of citrus fruits. It offers numerous health benefits, including supporting digestive health, detoxification, and overall gut health. Additionally, it has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine for its therapeutic properties.
For dog owners considering citrus pectin supplementation for their dogs, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian or your nutritionist to ensure safety and efficacy. With proper guidance and dosage, citrus pectin can be a valuable addition to your dog’s diet, promoting health and well-being.
As always, thank you for stopping by. I wish you and your dogs good Health!
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Hannah Zulueta obtained her Certificate in Canine Nutrition from CASI Institute. She is also studying for her Doctorate in Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Herbalism from the esteemed Pacific College of Health and Medicine.
She resides in San Diego with her three dogs, Maggie, Orbit, and Mr. Higgins.