Dietary fibers for dogs are recommended for healthy gut flora, solid stools, and an overall well-kept digestive system. This article answers all common questions about crude fibers, soluble and insoluble fibers for dogs, as well as prebiotics. We have also reviewed the top 5 best fiber-rich dog foods and the top 5 best fiber supplements for dogs.
What Are Fibers in a Dog's Diet?
Dietary fibers in dogs, also commonly referred to as roughage, are the indigestible aspects of plant matter that assists in the bodily function known as intestinal peristalsis. In other words, it’s a type of carbohydrate found in foods that pass through a dog’s digestive process but is not digestible. Furthermore, it has the ability to absorb water. Fiber for dogs can come in one of two components: soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber is soluble in water, that is, it dissolves in water. It also tends to ferment easier in the colon to later turn into gases and is the type of fiber that passes through the digestive tract with more ease. These fibers also form viscous or gelatinous substances. Dogs who suffer from bacterial overgrowth will benefit from soluble fiber as it helps produce short-chain fatty acids from the fermentation, which provide energy. On the other hand, insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and its key proponent is used to provide bulk in the digestive tract and does not ferment, which makes it metabolically inert.
Dietary fiber is able to literally change how nutrients are absorbed and passed in the body. Dog food labels provide information regarding how much crude fiber it contains. Crude basically refers to the method in which the product was tested and how much of that particular content is found in the food. In technical terms, it’s the indigestible contents of cellulose, lignin, and pentosans measured as a quantitative number. It has nothing to do with the actual quality of the food itself. In this case, the crude fiber is taken from the food to determine the amount of fiber level which is then used to determine crude protein. Most dog foods that you buy contain about 5% crude fiber. Any food that is above 5% is considered “high fiber food”.
What Are Fibers Good For?
A diet rich in high fiber for dogs contains a number of benefits that range from a healthy colon to bulking activity, as well as assist in weight management. As the fiber passes through the body, the bacteria in the intestines break it down. Fiber assists in the defecation process and prevents hemorrhoids by facilitating the natural emptying of the anus. In addition, some vets even say that fiber-rich foods help prevent colon cancer in dogs. Aside from regulating the intestines and aids in maintaining the healthy gut flora, fibers also slow down the absorption of glucose levels in the blood. Lower glucose levels mean less insulin activity which may lead to serious health complications down the road.
Fibers as a weight management aid help your dog feel full for longer periods of time, thus keeping it from over-eating. This also reduces the chances of developing obesity and therefore, diabetes as well. In addition to weight management and keeping your dog fit, fiber plays a crucial role in your dog’s immune health by reducing inflammations and therefore, reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It also increases the growth or sustainability of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Though keep in mind, dogs who suffer from chronic diarrhea should not take too much fiber as it may worsen their symptoms or it may be an indication of an underlying problem.
How Much Fiber Do Dogs Need?
An average-sized dog’s typical diet consists of roughly 2.5% to 4.5% fiber. More than 5% crude fiber for a normal dog is sufficient as long as it’s not too much. Larger dogs may need more due to their size. Small dogs only need 1 TB of fiber serving as opposed to bigger dogs. Additionally, dogs who suffer health ailments, such as those which are gastrointestinal related, may need a specified amount. In this case, professional opinion from the vet is recommended.
When beginning to introduce fiber-rich foods for dogs, slow and steady is the key. You don’t want to run the risk of giving too much at one time. Generally, you can tell if your dog is getting sufficient fiber in his diet by examining how he or she is doing. If he is active, defecating regularly, is growing and is at an ideal weight for his age then chances are he’s getting enough. Conversely, if he’s having digestive issues and weight problems then you may need to increase the fiber.
Some vets recommend whether the source is from vegetables, pumpkin, or psyllium husk powder, a teaspoon for every 10lbs of body weight is enough once or twice a day. For mashed sweet potatoes, you can use 1-3 tablespoons.
What Are the Dangers Associated with Fiber-Rich Diets in Dogs?
An overabundant amount of fiber in the diet can lead to upset stomach, gas, bloating, and also abdominal discomfort and pain. Dogs, on average, should have two bowel movements a day.
Although it’s common knowledge that high fiber for dogs provides an array of benefits and health advantages, too little or too much is not ideal. In fact, giving too much fiber to your dogs can result in adverse reactions. Excessive fiber can cause dogs to defecate very often causing many minerals and nutrients to not be properly digested and absorbed. Due to excessive defecation and fewer nutrients, your dog may counter this issue by eating more than is recommended which can ultimately lead to weight gain. Moreover, too much fiber can lead to a condition known as colitis, which is an inflamed colon. Colitis can cause your dog to strain during defecation and may excrete blood or mucus in the stool.
What Is a Good Source of Fiber for Dogs?
In regards to finding a good source of fiber for dogs, it’s always recommended to choose whole options, as in, whole fruits and vegetables. Most carbohydrate sources contain a decent amount of fiber. When choosing carb sources, aim for the higher fiber content as opposed to refined grain sources as they will provide many calories but too little nutrition. Some common sources of fiber include beet pulp, peanut hulls, rice hulls, bran, and pectin. In addition to these, you will find quite a bit of commercialized dog food products that get their fiber sources from flaxseed, whole grains, carrots, oats, apples, and legumes.
Other fiber-rich dog foods include sweet potato and pumpkin which are excellent sources of fiber for your dog and are considered superfoods. You can scoop up some of the pulp of each and add it to your dog’s dinner for a real boost. Other common sources that dog owners tend to lean on are high-fiber dog treats and fiber tablets. In the case of fiber tablets, they are usually only necessary in severe cases. You can also get a generous source of fiber from green foods such as green beans.
How Can I Add Fiber to My Dog's Diet?
To incorporate more fiber into your dog’s diet you may want to switch up your dog food brands to a higher fibrous content kibble. For dog owners who don’t want to make the transition, there are fiber capsules and similar prebiotic supplements on the market, but adding fibrous foods is usually recommended and more natural.
As previously mentioned, you can begin by adding small portions of pumpkin pulp or puree, roughly 1 tablespoon per 20lbs of weight. Sweet potatoes and green beans can be microwaved or blended into their dog food. Bran cereal works wonders for your dog. You can add pieces of these high-fiber bits into the food or serve them separately as snacks. Just make sure they are not filled with added sugars.
Moreover, you can incorporate more fiber-rich dog supplements into your dog’s diet by way of buying more fibrous vegetables. These veggies can be steamed in a way that makes it easier to chew and be given throughout the day as nutritious snacks. Likewise, a source of fiber for puppies can be any of these items mentioned but mashed to a softened texture. Lastly, add some prebiotics to your dog’s diet. These can be bought as supplements, generally bundled with dog probiotics. If unsure, ask your vet for some recommendations.
Do Fiber-Rich Foods for Dogs Help with Diarrhea?
For dogs who have stomach problems and frequent diarrhea, fiber-rich dog food or just plain sources of fiber can aid them greatly. For example, insoluble fiber works as a bulking agent in stools and absorbs the water in the intestinal tract which, in turn, produces harder fecal matter.
Soluble fiber helps provide more friendly bacteria in the gut through the fermentation process while it assists in balancing the acid levels. Additionally, soluble fiber delays gastric emptying, thus better controlling the flow. However, too much fiber is counterproductive because it will actually speed up the digestion transit which is what you don’t want. Moderation is key.
Importance of Fiber for Dogs with Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
Dietary fiber plays a very crucial role for dogs who suffer from Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI). This disorder prohibits the break down of food and restricts the body’s ability to utilize the important nutrients. To treat this, dogs are advised to take soluble fibers as well as undergo an enzyme replacement therapy. Only soluble fiber will work for this since fiber naturally is not a great aid for pancreatic enzymes, but the soluble kind is easily digestible. These specialized meals will have to be fed to your dog several times a day for optimum efficiency.
Top 5 Best High-Fiber Dog Foods
The crude fiber content in dog foods is not very well displayed and it may be hard to search for kibbles with high fiber content. We know that and we have handpicked the top 5 best high-fiber dog foods currently available on Amazon. Some of the below dry dog foods are pricier and have more premium ingredients while others may have a percentage point more fiber, but more grains for example. It really depends on what your dog prefers and what is healthier for him, or her.
1. Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Fiber Response
— Crude Fiber Content: 12.5%
The Royal Canin Fiber Response is a high-end source of fiber for dogs that are specifically built for optimum gastrointestinal passing. With a 12.5% crude fiber content, this dry food comes with a quantity of 43 cups. This formula is designed to prevent the conditions of colitis and diarrhea. The fiber-rich Fiber Response contains omega-3 fatty acids to alleviate abdominal swelling, provides intestinal flora, as well as keeps the GI tract robustly nourished.
Most buyers of this brand were advised by their personal vets to stick with this unique brand resulting in a major improvement of an array of ailments. In conjunction with probiotics, Fiber Response has cured progressive and chronic digestive issues. Furthermore, it has been known to work wonders for dogs who suffer from loose stools. The only downside is that some consumers have complained that the price is too high for the amount of food packaged.
2. NUTRO Weight Loss Dry Dog Food
— Crude Fiber Content: 10%
The Nutro dry food made by Natural Choice provides an alternative to your customary dog food with the aim of achieving successful weight loss in your dog. Containing 10% crude fiber, this high-quality blend incorporates Real Australian and New Zealand lamb with whole brown rice for a complete, nutritious meal. This highly nutrient-dense meal provides lower calories than other brands so that your dog can better manage its weight. The contents of lamb and rice leave your dog feeling full for longer periods of time, thus, eating less. Natural Choice also provides key essential ingredients such as zinc, vitamin B, and omega-6 fatty acids that keep your dog’s coat shiny.
Pets seem to enjoy the taste of this source of fiber for dogs and it has gotten users raving about its freshness. Buyers note that they notice a healthy glow to their dog’s skin. Moreover, vets recommend it. Unfortunately, some users have reported that their dogs vomit after consumption claiming that the product has been recalled.
3. BLUE Wilderness Healthy Weight Chicken
— Crude Fiber Content: 10%
Blue Wilderness offers a chicken recipe that is enriched with fiber and 100% grain-free. With a 10% crude fiber content, Blue Wilderness provides an array of health benefits for your dog including the development of lean muscle and glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health. In addition, it contains essential vitamins and omega-3 & 6 fatty acids. This chicken dish is specially formulated for weight management with reduced calorie content from fat. It’s made from deboned chicken which makes it also high in protein. Blue Wilderness provides a wealth of other great properties including a blend of Phosphorus, Calcium, and other essential vitamins. This blend is great to enhance teeth and bones.
Dogs enjoy the hearty flavor and buyers have even bought the Blue Wilderness wet food to complement their meals. Users appreciate the immune-enhancing benefits this fiber-rich dog food provides. The transition from other brands to this one has proved to be an easy task. Just do your research well because some users have complained of finding lead in the dry food, while one user states that the company is being sued for this.
4. Hill's Science Diet Dog Food for Healthy Weight and Weight Management
— Crude Fiber Content: 11%
Made in the U.S., Hill’s Science dog food comes in a smooth, soft texture and contains no artificial preservatives or flavors. Recommended for dogs ages 1-6, it contains 50% less fat, with an 11% crude fiber content, as well as 12.5% fewer calories than the adult turkey and barley entrée canned counterparts. Dogs who tend to be less active, prone to weight gain, or are neutered benefit greatly from this healthy dog food. Hill’s Science provides antioxidant benefits and is made with high-quality lean proteins. More than 70% of dogs have managed to lose weight with a 10-week time span with this brand.
With flavors that your dog will love, it’s the Vet’s number 1 choice of weight management food. Buyers tend to be greatly satisfied with the price and amount of dog food that comes packaged. Many are also happy with the weight loss results in their dogs. However, some users have complained of diarrhea and other defecation issues after using this brand.
5. Holistic Select Natural Grain-Free Weight Management
— Crude Fiber Content: 8.5%
The Holistic Select dog food is specially formulated to enhance optimum digestive performance while maintaining a steady weight. Containing 8.5% crude fiber content, this unique digestive support contains live yogurt cultures and digestive enzymes to facilitate smoother digestion. The probiotics and prebiotics help maintain a healthy gut flora. This product contains no wheat, gluten, meat by-products, nor artificial colors and preservatives. The chicken meal and peas recipe give it a wonderful hearty flavor. The superfoods and natural ingredients contained to allow for more regularity in your dog’s daily life.
Many who have made the switch from their regular brands to Holistic Select have never gone back. They say this premium dog brand has helped their dogs who suffer from stomach ailments. Some have claimed that it has enhanced their dog’s coat shine as well. This is definitely one of the best dog foods out on the market. Conversely, some users have complained that the manufacturers have changed the weight/quantity of the bag and that their dogs are not having the same reactions to the food as before. Others complained of a nauseating smell while others claimed their dogs became ill soon after eating.
Top 5 Best Fiber Supplements for Dogs
When dog food cannot be changed or has already be changed, you can offer your dog some digestive support supplements to look after the dog’s digestive tract and anal glands. There are also some quality high-fiber supplements for dogs and we have listed all of them below. Remember that supplements are good with moderation and should never replace a healthy diet.
1. Diggin Your Dog Firm Up Pumpkin Supplement
— High Fiber Supplement (40%!)
With a whopping 40% max crude fiber content, Firm Up! Pumpkin supplements provide maximum dietary fiber for dogs by combining two essential and powerful ingredients: pumpkin and apple pectin. This potent formula can be given to dogs and cats alike. Diggin Your Dog is 100% made, harvested, grown, and even packaged in the U.S.A. It’s completely resealable and gives you the added benefit of not letting any go to waste by allowing you to take out exactly what you need. Whereas, canned products usually end up going to waste. This product gives you the option of eating it wet by mixing it in with water or served dry which works great as a regular treat. What’s better is that it’s great for travel.
Firm up! alleviates digestive disorders by providing regularity with its antioxidant blend and users use this as an anti-diarrheal. This product has been known to cure anal gland tissue problems in dogs. Having high hopes because of the high fibrous content from the pumpkins, some dogs, however, have had allergic reactions to this pumpkin supplement, so make sure your dog is not allergic.
2. Zesty Paws Scoot Away Soft Chews for Dogs
— Digestive Support Supplement
The Zesty Paws Scoot Away works by supporting your dog’s anal glands for optimum digestive support. These chicken flavored dog supplements are equipped with VitaFiber and each container comes with 90 soft chews. The VitaFiber is a plant-based source that acts as a prebiotic in the intestinal tract and includes 90% dietary fiber while the mineral oil and dandelion root act as a laxative. Made for dogs of all ages, an elaborate blend of fiber-rich nutrients including pumpkin, dandelion root, bromelain, and mineral oil, work in unison to provide regular bowel function and relieve stomach discomfort. Scoot Away is specially designed to promote healthy anal glands and stool consistency so that your dog does not resort to floor scooting.
Users report that Scoot Away is much more effective than Glandex, another popular anal glad supplement. This product has also worked in alleviating extreme gas in dogs. The dogs love the taste and think they are getting a treat when administered. It has even been praised for helping senior dogs, though if your dog is a very picky eater he may not respond as well. In addition, according to some users, Scoot Away does not work for all dogs even after several weeks of use.
3. Glandex Anal Gland Fiber Supplement for Dogs
— Anal Gland Support Supplement
Another well-known and vet-recommended supplement for anal gland support is Glandex, a U.S.-made, beef liver fiber supplement. Made for dogs over 12 weeks of age, Glandex contains a patented formula designed to facilitate natural emptying of the anal glands and is recommended by vets as the #1 anal gland supplement. It works by reducing inflammation and bulking up the stool and promises results in 3-5 weeks. Its key ingredients include pumpkin seed powder, apple pectin, digestive enzymes, and bromelain. It can last up to 3 months for a dog of 20lbs. Its natural inflammatory properties and omega-3 fatty acids make this scientific breakthrough supplement a real winner in the market.
Users have reported that this particular supplement has worked wonders for dogs that suffered from excess anal gland fluid excretion with greater reduction in results. It has even helped in dogs who suffer from allergies and is especially noted for keeping dog’s coat and skin shiny. Several buyers have complained of increased health issues including dehydration in their dogs after use.
4. The Missing Link Original All-Natural Superfood Dog Supplement
— Crude Fiber Content: 18%
Validated by modern science as commonsense nutrition, The Missing Link All-Natural Superfood Supplement is new and improved specifically aimed for ultimate skin and coat health. With 18% crude protein, this supplement contains omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that help with shedding while providing a soothing solution for irritated skin. This powdered formula is made with kelp and fresh ground flaxseed, as well as phytonutrients for optimum digestion and health. It can be administered to all dog breeds and it needs to be taken only once daily. Furthermore, this all-natural superfood supports muscle, tendons, and soft tissue, and provides sustained energy levels.
Dogs have been known to experience immense relief from skin irritations including itchy skin after taking this formula. Some have reported improvement from eye inflammations and back sores after using The Missing Link for several weeks. Additionally, most dogs seem to enjoy the taste and do not have a problem with ingestion. Some dogs, on the other hand, have experienced vomiting or hair loss after regular use. One user even complained that garlic, being one of the ingredients, can be a hazard.
5. VetriScience Laboratories Mega Probiotic for Dogs
— 10-Billion CFU per gram!
With approval from veterinarians, VetriScience Laboratories has marketed a highly praised formula filled with beneficial probiotics and prebiotics. This uniquely designed supplement contains naturally occurring microorganisms for great digestive support. The mega probiotic formula comes in capsules with each capsule containing 5 billion microorganisms and 8 different strains and its sources are non-dairy.
One of its most pronounced and special ingredients include a FOS prebiotic, fructooligosaccharides, with 10 billion CFU per gram of total microorganisms. With 120 capsules included in each container, these probiotic supplements are suitable for dogs of all ages and are recommended for dogs who suffer from chronic stomach and digestive ailments including diarrhea, constipation, and flatulence. It’s also suitable for those that exhibit food intolerances.
VetriScience Laboratories receives great praise for its probiotic effects in dogs which include all of the necessary strains to relieve many ailments. Dogs who have been under the treatment care of Gas-X and acidophilus supplements to alleviate symptoms of various intestinal problems have not seen great relief. With Mega Probiotics for Dogs, users have witnessed great improvements that surpass any other supplement taken. You can simply empty the contents of the capsule and sprinkle it in his food and your dog would never know. On the downside, one user has complained that this supplement contains an unknown ingredient that is not shown in the list, silicon dioxide. Others have reported incidents of diarrhea after the use of these supplements.