Dogs are truly a man’s best friend. Loyal, submissive, caring, loving and extremely devoted – just show your dog affection and it will be your best companion for the rest of its life. But looking after a dog is a huge responsibility, especially if you want to nourish that special bond and make sure it lives a happy life. Apart from usual investments like a warm place to live and sleep, grooming products and loads of free time for learning tricks and taking long walks, dogs also require a proper food plan and a balanced and nutritious diet.
Age, sex, breed and lifestyle represent the main coordinates when picking the perfect dietary plan for your four-legged friend. Some dog breeds require special diet care because they are more prone to developing certain health affections like obesity and heart diseases, while other breeds which are more active definitely require a balanced diet that will support their active lifestyles. Nevertheless, it is important to understand you own dog’s needs and respond to them as good as you can. Establishing specific eating rules will also lead to discipline and a balanced lifestyle. Bear in mind that sticking to certain time frames for main meals of the day is important while offering delicious tricks or rewards should only happen occasionally and only if the dog deserves them.
However, finding the perfect dietary plan for your furry fellow might prove like a difficult task, especially with so many options available on the market today. Should you stick to a regular diet based on whatever you eat minus few exceptions? Should you opt for foods rich on fiber or for dry or wet pet store foods? Are dog foods really better than home cooked meals and “real food”? All these questions have an answer depending on your dog’s own lifestyle, age, sex and breed.
Why does your dog need fiber rich foods?
There are a lot of reasons behind any dog owner’s choice regarding their dog’s food habits. But no matter how similar we might want to be with our dogs, nature has made us different for a purpose. Thus, not everything that is good for us in terms of food is benefic for your dog as well. And since we share different digestive systems, dogs often enough require a particular food diet, based on a large intake of fibers.
A good digestive system obviously leads to a stronger immune system which will prevent your dog from catching viruses or develop further health affections. On the contrary, a diet poor on fibers will lead to digestive problems for your dog, including constipation, bloating and fat gain, which are pretty costly and nasty to treat. Last but not least, a poor diet will lead to smelly anal glands which, let’s face it, nobody wants to deal with. Luckily, a diet rich in fiber can help cure all that and prevent certain health problems in the future.
Understanding your dog’s needs
Although dogs were built as omnivorous beings, just like humans, their digestive systems and anatomy works slightly different than ours. Dogs can survive on a vegetarian diet but will only live a healthy life if they are fed animal proteins and fibers on a constant basis. Also, their digestive systems are built in such way to ensure an easy digestion even for high intakes of meat and animal products without secondary effects. In fact, a diet rich in animal proteins and fibers should be encouraged for all dog breeds, no matter their size, age or lifestyles.
But choosing just any type of high fiber food for your dog is an often mistake most owners make. They assume all dog food rich in fibers is of a similar quality and should not necessarily invest in higher quality products. Unfortunately, most dog foods use corn and wheat as filling agents and, although omnivorous dogs will find it quite difficult to digest such a high amount of grains at once. Thus, dog foods rich in grains should be avoided.
How to add fiber into your dog’s daily diet
If you are determined to increase the intake of fibers on your dog’s daily diet, purchasing canned foods or special “dog foods” may not always be the best alternative. Sure, they are easy and convenient but, on the long run, will affect your budget (especially when having a tall breed dog) and even the health of your dog. Thus, homemade food or simple ingredients from nature will always be a better, healthier and more natural alternative.
But how do you actually introduce more fibers into your dog’s daily diet? If your dog already has a diet rich in grains, you can keep that diet and slightly introducing new elements on a regular basis. We all know dogs like variety, but too much variety all of a sudden can be confusing to your dog and even cause digestive problems instead of solving them. We already gave you some grain free and vet approved homemade dog food recipes that are fiber rich in another post. Here is a list with most popular food items rich in fibers which you can safely introduce into your dog’s diet:
Sweet potatoes– We as humans also eat larger amounts of potatoes during the holiday seasons since most of our comfort meals and pleasant times spent with our families and friends are strictly related to this delicious and easy to cook vegetable. But sweet potatoes can also be a good alternative for your dog as well. As a matter of fact, I put it in nearly all my homemade dry dog food. You can cook sweet potatoes in numerous ways to add new flavors and tastes to your dishes and attract your dog as well.
Canned pumpkin- An alternative to sweet potatoes which is also mainly used during the holiday season, canned pumpkin will certainly be an interesting addition to your dog’s regular diet. Again, this product can be cooked in numerous ways and can be sweet, sour or spicy. On the internet you can find lots of recipes for homemade pumpkin dog treats, either with or without flour. Keeping a can of pumpkin in your fridge is the best way to store and serve it to your dog later on. Most dogs just love both fresh and frozen pumpkin dog treats. The juiciness from the pumpkin will easily moisturize your dog’s food and add a delicious flavor and taste while also serving as a good portion of fibers.
Fiber tablets- You can purchase fiber tablets from all pet shops and veterinarians and there are plenty of options on the market. Although we recommend adding natural ingredients into your dog’s daily diet for a higher intake of fibers, when your dog is picky or you run out of options, fiber tablets can be a good alternative. Fiber tablets for dogs were specifically designed to diminish inflammation in anal glands and are also mainly made out of natural ingredients. However, it is best to consult your veterinarian before adding these supplements into your dog’s diet.
What are the main benefits of a high fiber dog diet?
Recent researches have proved thatthis kind of dog diet can be extremely beneficial and fight against a wide array of health issues dogs may develop during the years. Combined with a balanced lifestyle with plenty of physical activities daily, a high fiber diet can increase your dog’s life expectation and play an important role in the development of its behavior. Here is a list of the well-known benefits:
Fights against constipation and diarrhea- Although it may sound strange, these two affections have one thing in common – an improper amount of fibers in the organism. And fibers can fight both these problems at once. Fibers act like a sponge and absorb water to deliver a healthy bowel and deliver proper dog stools.
Reduce the risk of developing colon cancer- Unfortunately, dogs can also develop numerous types of cancer, including colon cancer. For a healthy colon it is vital to consume a regular amount of fibers.
Beneficial for dogs with diabetes- Dogs that were diagnosed with diabetes can truly benefit from high fiber foods. A diet rich in fibers will slow down digestion and keep blood sugar levels from varying too much. Also, by compared to regular whole-grain dog foods which are extremely high on carbohydrates, fibers help absorbing the water in the organism and prevent your dog from eating too much or making poor diet choices. Helping your dog eat more fibers daily by adding ingredients which are already sweeter (like sweet potatoes or pumpkin) will decrease your dog’s cravings for sugar which will help keep balance and avoid sugar crises in dogs with diabetes.
Promote weight loss- As previously mentioned, although omnivorous, dogs will often prefer a good piece of meat instead of any type of vegetable or grain. Unfortunately, large intakes of meat and dry food rich in grains have a high caloric content. If that high intake of calories is not dubbed by a healthy lifestyle promoting daily runs, walks and exercises, your dog will easily gain weight. Certain breeds like pugs and French bulldogs are even more prone to weight gain problems, thus it is crucial to follow a strict dietary plan for your beloved pooch. Luckily, fibers act like a natural “diluter” for calories, delivering not only tastier meals but also healthier ones. Fibers absorb water like a sponge and expand, causing your dog to feel fool easier. This way your dog will eat less while still feeling satiable. In a simple chain of events, your dog will feel full easier, meaning it will consume less energy, thus fewer calories.
Fights against inflamed anal glands- Anal glands can be blocked by a wide series of factors which will lead to discomfort and even pain for your dog. In order to prevent and treat this quite common affection you can easily include more fibers into your dog’s diet. As previously mentioned, the main characteristic of fibers is that it absorbs water to act like a natural sponge which will produce additional bulk. This will further lead to larger stools which will put pressure on anal sacs while your dog is defecating. As a natural result, the additional pressure will determine a natural drainage of anal glands and promote health. Furthermore, a diet rich in fibers will diminish the intensity of your dog’s anal glands smell.
But, just like any other good thing in this life, too much of a good thing will lead to bad things as well. In other words, exceeding the quantity of fibers your dog requires on a daily basis can result in further health problems rather than fixing them. Thus, it is extremely important to know your dog very well, as well as its breed and weak points in order to create a customized food plan throughout its living.
A diet rich in fibers more than it should be can lead to the following health affections:
Diarrhea– As odd as it may sound, especially after providing information on the benefits of fiber-rich foods, such foods can also cause diarrhea rather than solving the issue. Giving your dog an exceeded amount of fibers which is not shaped depending on its breed, age and physical activity routine can in fact cause diarrhea rather than solving it. As previously mentioned, dogs are omnivorous animals but can pretty much live easily on a raw diet mainly based on meat, eggs and little to no vegetables. Their digestive systems are capable enough to deal with large quantities of meat on a regular basis without causing health problems, thus vegetables can be ignored almost completely.
Forcing your dog to eat more fibers and vegetables than it should could lead to the irritation of the digestive system and the colon and result in diarrhea. This is why talking to your dog’s veterinarian is crucial before establishing the perfect amounts of fibers your dog should receive daily.
How to properly introduce the food to your dog?
As with any other element in your dog’s development, the key is to keep calm and steady. Introducing new ingredients into your dog’s regular diet should be made slowly and with plenty of time to adjust. It is important to take into consideration that each dog breed and individual is unique so there isn’t a truly universal recipe that will work wonders on all dogs. Some dogs are extremely picky when it comes to their food choices thus teaching them to accept new things can truly be a challenge. On the contrary, some dogs are very susceptible to new and may embrace a wide array of ingredients sooner than expected. Either way, it is important to respect your dog’s own pace and never force it into something you only think would benefit it.
Introducing high fiber foods to your dog should be made slowly and on a regular basis. Don’t do your changes over night but let your dog adjust to its own terms. The ideal way of introducing new foods to your dog is by gradually replacing 25% of the food your dog eats on a regular basis. Let your dog adjust to the new ratio for a few days while carefully monitoring its lifestyle. This way, if your dog suffers from constipation or diarrhea you will have plenty of time to notice the benefic effects of higher intakes of fibers and decide whether or not you should further increase the dose of fibers added daily. Also, rather than opting for these dog foods entirely, you can easily supplement a regular type of dog food with some fiber intakes.
Your dog loves diversity thus it should be more than susceptible to new additions to its diet. However, bear in mind that it will take time to adjust and drastically changing your dog’s diet by completely replacing the old one with a new one, even healthier, may lead to short term and long term health affections. The same appeals to all ingredients and foods you want to add to your dog’s diet. The key is to start with only one element and see how your dog’s body reacts. If there are no health problems or visible irritations you can decide introducing another new element after one week until you reach the most balanced diet plan for your own dog.
Any brand suggestions?
You really should prefer making the high fiber dog treats yourself. This has numerous advantages. First of all that way you immediatly know for sure all ingredients that have been used. Second following some simple recipes provided, will result in both cheap and easy homemade dog food for your best friend. However, maybe you just don’t have the time in your busy life to do this. That’s why we have some pointers here on what to look for when buying it in the stores.
We will limit ourselfs here to just mentioning some reputable high fiber dog food brands. First of all we have Hill’s Science diet dog food. With Hill’s you can never go wrong. You just will not find a single vet that won’t approve this dog food. The second is Royal Canin high fiber. It contains only those ingredients to help your dog with gastrointestinal problems. Putting your friend on a fiber-rich diet can be the solution to these health problems. Last of all, if you are a bit clumsy in the kitchen and just don’t succeed in following even the easiest dog cookie recipes, this one is for you. When buying Stewart fiber formula dog treats, your dog won’t even notice that it’s boss didn’t make the treats himself.
Although plenty of studies have shown the importance of adding more fibers into your dog’s daily dietary habits, a fiber excess is as dangerous as an insufficient take of fibers. Fibers can help prevent, ail or treat numerous dog health affections and promote a healthy lifestyle, no matter the age, sex or breed of your dog. However, switching to high fiber dog foods all of a sudden is not a wise choice as it may interfere with your dog’s entire digestive system and cause further problems.
No matter the type of high fiber dog food you opt for, one thing is for sure – quality is the most important when keeping your dog healthy. Thus, if you are not sure which brand is the most suitable you can always start with nature’s own selection of beneficial ingredients. Keep an eye on your dog’s reaction and always talk to your veterinarian for deciding on the perfect amount of fibers your dog requires on a daily basis.