What is Fiber and What Does it Do?
Water-soluble fiber helps the body to ease food through the digestive system and keep bowel movements regular. It adds bulk to the bowel movements, helping to avoid loose stools and diarrhea.
It is also believed to help the body to absorb vital vitamins and minerals from foods while in the digestive tract. Fiber slows down the movement of food long enough to give the intestines more time to absorb essential nutrients. When foods pass too quickly, all of the nutrition is wasted.
The big question is how much fiber is enough? Obviously, too much fiber could be problematic. Not enough fiber can also cause issues. How much fiber dogs need is a general number.
Your dog may do better with more or less. You can add things to their diet to help if the kibble they eat doesn’t seem to be good for them, or you can switch food altogether.
Fiber comes in the form of complex carbohydrates. They are complex because they take more effort to break down and be digested. By slowing down this process, blood sugar doesn’t spike rapidly as it does with simple carbs, like sugar.
Most commercial pet foods use grain hulls, guar gum, oat, bran, peanut shells, powdered cellulose or beet pulp to add fiber to their foods. These are cheap to produce but are really not appropriate for animals to have the best nutrition.
Conversely, raw food diets that many people are turning to, can have too little fiber. There are things that you can add to your pet’s meals to increase fiber and these things are far better for them.
A lot of dog food companies market a very high fiber product. How can you tell if your dog is on one of these foods? Do they poop 4, 5, 6, or even 7 times per day? They are getting an enormous amount of fiber in their diet. They don’t need that much. Ideally, your dog should have 2 bowel movements per day and they should be small, and well-formed.
When you feed a healthier diet with the correct amount of fiber, your dog will have far fewer bowel movements because their body is actually using more of the food they are eating. They should have a firm consistency, never runny or like oatmeal in texture. Choosing better food may be your first-course correction.
Some dog owners go to feeding a raw food diet or a diet that they prepare at home. This is entirely up to you and may not be necessary. You should do what suits your lifestyle most appropriately while providing the best nutrition for your dog.
A very small amount of their diet should be fiber. The average dog needs about 1 teaspoon of fiber to every ten pounds of body weight, per day. That is very little in comparison to the amount of food they may eat. Ruffage, such as dark leafy greens can provide all the fiber that they need. Other types of fiber can come from things like pumpkin or apples. Dogs love fresh foods when given the choice to eat them.
Introduce new foods to your dog slowly. Moving too quickly, like dropping the dry kibble entirely and feeding them a plate of fresh meat and vegetables suddenly, may cause gastrointestinal upset. Slow and steady so you don’t disrupt their bowels, upset their stomach, or cause diarrhea is important.
When changing their diet over to a new food, add only a quarter of the meal as a new food at a time, over the course of several days. Wait a day or two before increasing the amount of newer food. If you take this process slowly, you’ll help your dog make the switch without issue.
Why Dog Food Companies Add So Much Fiber
To be perfectly honest, it’s all about money to them. Fiber additives sound like a great selling point but what they really do is decrease the cost of making the food. Fiber is also easier to handle in the industrial setting. This allows companies to create food that is very inexpensive. Consumers love the price tag and companies enjoy the profit margins.
Sadly, dogs don’t live as long as they used to because of this practice. It used to be normal to see dogs live over 18 years. The more that animals have become dependent on commercial foods for their diets, the shorter their lives have become. There is no refuting this statistic. It’s just simple fact.
Before the advent of commercial dog foods, most dogs were fed table scraps from whatever was left-over after supper. People ate healthier in those days too. Most Americans were eating from gardens post-WW II. It Wasnt until the 1960s that Americans began using a grocery store for most of the fresh food needs. Our diet, and the diet of our pets, slowly began to decline at the same time. Cancer rates have increased, as have rates of type 2 diabetes, in humans and in dogs. This should begin to shed light on the situation so that anyone can see clearly.
We should also not overlook that the overworking of internal organs, from years of processing and ridding the body of a week’s worth of waste in a single day, over the course of many years, has caused many animals to just simply wear their body out. We see higher rates of kidney disease, renal failure and fatty-liver disease all of the time.
When you combine these problems with the treats and consumables that are marketed for dogs and loaded with high-fructose corn syrup and sugar, it is no wonder that all dogs don’t become diabetic or have kidney problems. Dogs should never be given sugar. Dogs shouldn’t be fed salty or spicy foods either. You risk upsetting their digestive balance or having acid indigestion. They can’t tell you when they have heartburn so it is better to avoid feeding them overly hot or spicy foods.
You Don’t Have to Cook For Your Dog
You don’t have to be guilt-tripped into cooking for your dog if that isn’t your ideal way to spend a weekend. It is possible to find foods that are better balanced and freshly made. You can specifically look in the refrigerated section of your pet store to find meals that are made from fresh ingredients, not dehydrated fillers.
You can also give your dog a bit of your salad from time to time for a healthy fiber that has moisture content. Left-overs should be given sparingly unless you eat very clean meals with low fat and plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. Most humans don’t eat as good as we should and there’s no point passing the bad habit to your dog.
Do not skip meat for your dog no matter what you do. They need meat protein to survive. Other forms of protein are good to add to their diet but dogs cannot survive as vegetarian. Sorry, but if you are a vegetarian that has an issue with feeding your dog as a true omnivore, you really need to reconsider because you be causing them health problems through a lack of proper nutrition.
Things to Avoid Feeding Your Dog
Dogs can eat a lot of the things that we eat but you should avoid some things as much as possible. There are also some things that are downright toxic to your dog. These are marked with an asterisk.
- Apples with seeds intact*
- Grapes and raisins*
- Macadamia nuts, Almonds, Walnuts, and Pecans*
- Fatty foods
- Plum or peach pits*
- Raw eggs
- Raw meat
This is a short list to give you an idea of foods that you should steer clear of or only give in moderation. Milk products in small amounts may not bother your dog at all. On the other hand, if your dog is lactose intolerant, even a small amount of a milk product can cause bowel upset and diarrhea.
Some fruits and vegetables are good for fiber. Apples are a wonderful source of fiber and most dogs love it. Just make sure that you remove the seeds which are laced with cyanide and highly toxic. No one should eat apple seeds and they are especially poisonous to animals.
Adding dark, leafy greens to your dog’s food will give them plenty of fiber and it only takes a small amount.