Dark Mode On / Off

What Kind Of Fiber To Feed Your Dog

Fiber is good for your dog’s colon and should be fed. But before we talk about what kind of fiber, we should start at the beginning to understand what fiber is and what it does so that you know what to feed your dog. 

What is fiber?

Fiber come from carbohydrates that are present in edible plants. Mammalian intestinal digestive enzymes don’t hydrolyze them in the small intestine, nor are they absorbed in the small intestine.  

Dietary fibers included cellulose, hemicellulose, lignins, resistant starch, starch, mono-and disaccharides, pectins, or gums. 

Other plant polysaccharides can also be considered fibers such as fructans (inulin), galactans, mannans, and mucilages. 

Animal fur and bird feathers are insoluble (animal) fibers that raw feeders provide to their dogs to promote a healthy gut.  

Classification

Fibers are classified in accordance to:

  • Being soluble vs. insoluble
  • How fermentable they are
  • Water holding capacity
  • Viscosity

Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber

Essentially this explains if the fiber can be dissolved in or hold water.

Soluble Fiber

  • Can be dispersed when it’s mixed with water
  • Holds water
  • Bulks stool
  • Slows fecal transit time
  • Promotes smooth passage of food through the GI tract

Look at soluble fiber when you have issues with diarrhea

Examples of Soluble Fiber

  • Pectins and gums
  • Legumes, oats, rye, barley, root tubers, root vegetables, physllium husk, flaxseeds and nuts.    
  • Fleshy parts of fruits and vegetables, as opposed to skins
    • Applesauce
    • Apricots
    • Avocado
    • Banana
    • Carrots
    • Eggplant
    • Garlic
    • Green Beans
    • Melons
    • Oats
    • Peaches
    • Potato
    • Pumpkin
    • Zucchini
  • Larch arabinogalactan is a water soluable fiber that ferments in the intestine

Insoluble Fiber

  • It can’t be dispersed in water.
  • It cannot absorb water
  • Moves waste quickly, pushes through the intestine
  • Speeds up the rate to which food passes through

Look at insoluble fiber when you have issues with movement, mainly for constipation.

Examples of Insoluble Fiber

  • Cellulose and lignin
  • Whole-grain foods, wheat, and corn bran,lignans,
  • Skins of fruits and vegetables – as opposed to flesh
    • Beans
    • Berries
    • Brown rice
    • Cauliflower
    • Celery
    • Corn
    • Flaxseeds
    • Green beans
    • Kale
    • Kiwi skin
    • Mushrooms
    • Nuts
    • Peas
    • Potato skin
    • Wheat bran

Viscosity

Some fibers reduce the rate of passage of digestion through the gastrointestinal tract, which means it can slow the rate of digestion of nutrients and can also help to increase satiety which might lead to less food intake. This is beneficial for weight loss diets.  

Think of viscosity as “resistance to flow”.

If you had water and poured it down a pipe it would flow very easily. This means it has low viscosity – it has no resistance to flow.

If you took honey and poured it down the same pipe, it would flow very slowly. This means it has a high viscosity.

High viscosity

  • Forms a gel
  • Beta glucans, psyllium, guar gum

Low viscosity

  • Does not form a gel
  • Wheat dextrin / bran, polydextrose, inulin

Fermentability

The rate that bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, typically involving effervescence and the giving off heat, while in the gut as it breaks it down.  

The more fermentable a fiber is, the less it will help with bowel movement. So if your dog is constipated, offering them food that is highly fermentable is not a good idea.

Rapidly fermentable:  Fructans (garlic), galactans (green peas, beans), mannans, mucilages and some pectins. Result in more short-chain fatty acid production in a shorter period.  

Moderately fermentable:  Pectin and hemicellulose

Slowly fermentable: Cellulose and some hemicellulose, psyllium

Not digested or fermented:  Lignan/flaxseed

Moderately fermentable:  Resistant starch

Enzymatically digested: Starch

Absorbed:  Mono- and disaccharides

Consumption of fermentable dietary fibers can induce growth and/or activity of specific beneficial populations and is a strategy to modulate the gut microbiota and restore gut health.

This is because short-chain fatty acids are produced.

This is beneficial to your dog’s GI tract because they provide energy.

They also keep things moving through the intestines and reduce both inflammation and overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria.

At the same time, excessive fermentation and production of short-chain acids may come with excessive flatulence (gas) abdominal distention and diarrhea.  

Dogs with yeast issues also don’t do well when fed prebiotic fiber because it makes their conditions worse.  

Function of fiber

  1.  Microbiota-independent effects: Where fiber can increase the fecal bulk and help regulate bowel motility (like constipation) 
  2. Microbiota-dependent effects, and that’s where the dietary fiber is working through the microbiota. 

Even though fiber is indigestible, it plays a role in the digestive process. 

  • The speed of which food passes through is influenced by the presence and type of fiber in your dog’s food.  
  • It can slow down digestion in a dog whose system moves fast or it can speed it when it goes too slow.  
  • Fiber increases bulk.

Fibers that acts as prebiotics:

  • Increase beneficial bacteria that protect the GI tract against colonization by pathogens.  
  • Reduces fecal odor

Types of Prebiotic Fibers

  • Artichokes
  • Bananas
  • Chicory
  • Wheat bran

Dosage: Feed 2 to 5% of your dog’s meal.  

Best Vegetables To Feed For Fiber

  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Parsley
  • Parsnips
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cucumbers
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli sprouts
  • Mushrooms

Dosage: Feed 2 to 5% of your dog’s meal.  

Best Fruits To Feed For Fiber

  • Apples
  • Banana
  • Cranberries
  • Pears
  • Raspberries

Dosage: Feed 2 to 5% of your dog’s meal.  

Best Microbiome Building Vegetable Fiber

  • Arugula
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Dandelion
  • Endive
  • Escarole
  • Fermented veggies 
  • Green banana
  • Jerusalem artichoke (sunroot, sunchoke)
  • Jicama
  • Okra
  • Radicchio

Dosage: Feed 2 to 5% of your dog’s meal.  

Best Fiber When Seeking Non-fermentable and Bulk

  • Ground flaxseed – has a strong water binding capacity adding bulk to the diet.
  • Work up to adding 1/2 teaspoon for every 20 pounds your dog weighs.   Care must be taken to not overfeed because too much will cause constipation.
  • Animal fur and bird feathers (rabbit pelt, rabbit ears, lamb ears, cow ears, or pheasant fur). Feed a portion no bigger than your dog’s paw.  

Best Fiber When Your Dog Has Diarrhea

  • Slippery Elm. Be sure to feed at least 2 hours prior to meals if your dog is on any medication because slippery elm affects digestion. Slippery elm acts like mucilage and helps to bind as it passes through the colon. 
    • Mix 1/2 teaspoon powder with 1/2 a cup of warm water and mix until it thickens up. Add 1/2 teaspoon to your dog’s food.  

Best Fiber When Your Dog Has Yeast

Focus on insoluble and poorly fermentable fibers such as lignins, wheat bran, cellulose. The focus is fibers that do not dissolve in water, do not trap water, and are poorly fermented.

Large course fiber can have a laxative effect and irritate the large intestine mucosa and trigger the secretion of mucosa and water, which will increase the water content of stools.

Small insoluble fiber particles (e.g. wheat bran, flaxseed) have no laxative effect and can actually have a constipating effect by adding only to the dry stool mass.

Wheat bran shouldn’t be fed daily because the bran contains phytin. This is calcium glycerophosphate, which slows down the absorption of many minerals, in the first place – which is important! – calcium.

  • Ground flaxseed – has a strong water binding capacity adding bulk to the diet. Work up to adding 1/2 teaspoon for every 20 pounds your dog weighs.   Care must be taken to not overfeed because too much will cause constipation.
  • Animal fur and bird feathers (rabbit pelt, rabbit ears, lamb ears, cow ears, or pheasant fur). Feed a portion no bigger than your dog’s paw.  

Best Fiber When Your Dog Has Constipation Or Needs to Have their Lachnospiraceae, Clostridium and Collinsella bacterium be more balanced:

Coarse fiber particles irritate the gut mucosa and stimulate water and mucous secretion (bulks, softens, and moves).

High water holding capacity of viscous/gel-forming and/or nonviscous soluble fiber resists dehydration – keep stool soft.

Fiber must resist fermentation to remain intact and present in the bowel.

  • Psyllium husk powder – feed 1/4 teaspoon mixed with 2 teaspoons water and then added to food for every 20 pounds your dog weighs.  
  • Ground flaxseeds – has a strong water binding capacity adding bulk to the diet. Work up to adding 1/2 teaspoon for every 20 pounds your dog weighs.   Care must be taken to not overfeed because too much will cause constipation.
  • Oatmeal -feed a tablespoon (mixed with water) for every 20 pounds your dog weighs.  

Best Fiber When Your Dog Has Anal Gland Problems

The goal is to add fiber that bulks up and moves things along the digestive tract.

  • Animal fur and bird feathers (rabbit pelt, rabbit ears, lamb ears, cow ears, or pheasant fur). Feed a portion no bigger than your dog’s paw.
  • Ground flaxseeds – has a strong water binding capacity adding bulk to the diet. Work up to adding 1/2 teaspoon for every 20 pounds your dog weighs.   Care must be taken to not overfeed because too much will cause constipation.
  • Psyllium husk powder – feed 1/4 teaspoon mixed with 2 teaspoons water and then added to food for every 20 pounds your dog weighs.  
  • Gut Microflora

    Imbalances in the gut flora have been linked to allergy, inflammatory bowel disease, and diarrhea.  

    Final Thoughts

    Fiber helps your dog have a healthy gut. But knowing what kind of fiber to feed is the first step. 

    Start slow when initiating treatment. Adding fiber is like adding more cars to a traffic jam on the freeway. You want to make sure you don’t make things worse.

    When you understand what fiber is, and how it functions in your dog’s digestive tract you can better match the type of fiber to feed them.  

    Sources:

    Understanding the prebiotic potential of different dietary fibers using an in vitro continuous adult fermentation model (PolyFermS)

    Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, 5th Edition

    Recommended Articles

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *