Fiber is an essential part of any diet, whether for humans or for animals, Without the proper fiber, the bowels have a far more difficult time doing their job. In fact, fiber is essential to maintain healthy bowels.
What Role Does Fiber Play in Dog Food?
Fiber is a key element in a balanced diet that helps maintain the consistency and firmness of bowel movements. For dogs, fiber is very important in helping the bowels move regularly and maintaining the health of the digestive tract.
Fiber binds the stools together and helps carry it through the intestinal tract. Without enough fiber, diarrhea or constipation are the results. When constipation is the issue, it is highly likely that dehydration in the bowels is also a problem. When diarrhea is present, adding fiber to the diet is recommended.
The veterinarian will likely recommend that you feed your dog pumpkin or rice in the event of diarrhea or sickness. Boiled chicken with some rice is a great way to get your dog eating if they have an upset stomach after a bought of diarrhea. The rice will firm the stools back up and help them to absorb and carry toxins out through the bowels.
Fibers Safe for Dogs
Dogs can have rice, either brown or white. Some people believe that white rice is better because there are trace amounts of arsenic in brown rice. There is no evidence that brown rice is bad for your dog, however.
Bulgar, oats, and other whole grains are good sources of fiber if your dog has no allergies to these things. You likely won’t know if they have an allergy unless you feed it and see reactions like extreme itching and scratching. Some dogs will develop hot spots from constantly licking itchy skin. Rice rarely causes this reaction.
Other forms of fiber include pumpkin and legumes which are often added to high-end dog foods now, replacing the large amounts of corn in cheaper bargain foods. Dogs don’t metabolize corn very well and they spend a lot of excessive time and energy digesting it straight through their body and passing it in your yard. It actually wears on the internal organs to eat something that your body doesn’t need or want. By feeding a corn-heavy diet, you’ll find that your dog defecates as much as 3X more than if they are eating a food that has a healthier source of fiber in it, like pumpkin or rice.
Green pea starch is also added as a more nutritious filler that binds and has more fiber than things like corn. This is considered to be a healthy substitute and a better option for your dog.
Pet owners who make their own food will sometimes add lentils because they offer protein and a source of fiber but you must be sure to also feed them good lean meat. Beans aren’t enough protein for dogs. Dogs cannot exist on a vegetarian diet either. We do see more of this as people want their dog to eat like them. This simply doesn’t work for dogs at all and can result in a dog that is very unhealthy in the long-term.
Adding Weight to Your Dog
If you have a rescue dog that is very underweight, adding meat and rice mix to some kibble is a great way to entice them to eat and gain weight. The rice helps their digestive system to get overwhelmed with steady meals again. Some dogs who’ve been fending for themselves a long while and gotten thin are in a starvation mode. When this happens, the internal organs begin to slowly shut-down unnecessary functions.
When this happens, it isn’t wise to over-feed a starved dog right away. Feeding them small meals, frequently, with high-calorie foods will help them gain weight and work toward health again. Chicken and rice or boiled beef and rice are great options to put protein, fiber and a little fat in their diet. Rice also rarely upsets the stomach of a dog.
If you are searching for a good dog food that doesn’t upset your dog’s stomach because he is sensitive, try a lamb and rice kibble. It’s known for being highly digestible with dogs who have sensitive tummies.
Keep fats healthy. Just as for humans, there are good fats and bad fats for dogs. You don’t want your dog gaining unhealthy fat so keep fats to healthy amounts and types as they grow older especially. Healthy sources of fat for them will be chicken fat, sunflower or safflower oils in foods and anything rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. These typically come from healthy meat choices but can also be supplemented.
Congratulations for Caring About Your Dog’s Diet
You don’t need to be overly scientific or have a nutrition degree to properly feed and care for your dog. When you have questions, ask your vet or consult the internet for some advice from breeders and online veterinary websites.
The most expensive dog foods are not always the best. The price point isn’t the the main thing that should push you toward any particular food. Read the ingredient labels and make sure that a good source of meat protein is at the very top of the ingredient list. Make sure that corn isn’t used in the food.
Be sure that foods are preserved with mixed tocopherols. These are vitamin E preservatives and not cancer-causing like BHA or BHT. If you see either of those listed, put it down and don’t feed it to your dog. Steer clear of food coloring for the same reasons.
Laura Barnes is a passionate blogger and animal rights activist. She is a pet lover, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, pet nutritionist, and former veterinary technician. She continues her work while writing blogs for pet lovers around the globe.