Dogs are, generally speaking, fed on a mainly carnivorous diet. Although not true carnivores (like cats), dogs can and do eat a wider variety of foods to gain healthy nourishment, which means they need protein in their diet, some carbs, some fats and fibre.
But what do you need to know about fibre? It turns out that fibre is crucial for the digestive system of a dog in many important ways.
Fibre helps your canine friend digest his food properly, which results in less gas and healthier bowel movements.
But why does this matter? It’s important because of how it impacts your pup’s health, especially its skin and digestion.
Do dogs need fibre in their die?
Fibre plays a crucial role in nutrition because, unlike other macronutrients, it is not digested. As a result, the fibre becomes part of the food’s structure and helps to regulate digestion.
This type of manipulation can also help dogs who suffer from obesity.
Fibre has multiple benefits for your dog, including other gastrointestinal disorders such as Hepatic Lipidosis (HL), which is a disease that causes the liver to be enlarged due to fat deposits in the liver cells. HL often causes other common problems, including vomiting and diarrhoea.
Did you know: When fibre is added to your pet’s diet, it will have a positive effect on his digestive function. This is especially important for dogs with certain gastrointestinal disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Is too much fibre bad for dogs?
As a slight note, too much fibre can cause your dog to have a lot of gas, which is not ideal. So it is always good to start with a small amount of fibre and then work your way up. However, this shouldn’t be something to worry about if it happens occasionally.
What can I feed my dog for more fibre?
The most beneficial sources of fibre for dogs include:
You may wonder why there is fruit on the list; dogs don’t naturally crave them like they do meat or sweet treats. However, dogs love eating raw carrots with their kibble because they are small and make chewing more fun for them.
Romaine lettuce is one of the best sources of fibre because it has a mild flavour. You can give your dog a whole head of romaine lettuce, or you can chop it up and mix it in with other vegetables to hide the taste.
Some picky eaters will not eat it unless you mix it in with other foods so that is another option.
Although not every dog will like the taste of vegetables, they can provide healthy fibre to your dog’s diet. The best options are veggies that do not have a strong taste.
Sweet potatoes, squash and broccoli can provide healthy fibre to your dog’s diet. Cabbage is another one of the best sources of fibre for dogs. Cabbage does not have much flavour, but it can be mixed with other vegetables for added flavour.
Dogs like to eat apples because they taste sweet, so they make a great addition to any dog’s diet. Apples also contain Vitamin C which will ensure your dog’s health is in tip-top shape!
Melons are a great source of fibre and fruity flavour which many dogs will love. However, melon is not always the best choice if you don’t want to hide the taste.
If your dog loves melon, try mixing citrus fruit with melon for added flavour and something he will eat.
Did you know: Canned pumpkin and canned carrots make a good source of fibre for dogs because they are easy for dogs to chew and digest.
How to add more fibre to a dog’s diet?
Fibre supplements are a good choice for dogs. Many people think that every supplement is a bad choice for their dog, but this is not true. In fact, there are many supplements out there that contain great amounts of fibre which will make your pet’s life a little easier.
What types of fibre supplements for dogs are available?
Fibre supplements for dogs are available in many forms and there is one that can cater to almost any pet.
For those of you who think that fibre should be a part of your dog’s diet as a staple, you should consider giving your pet a solid oral supplement, there are many available that have excellent reviews from dog owners.
How do fibre supplements work?
Fibre is found in many types of foods and is an essential part of the human and animal diet. Despite its benefits, however, many dogs and pet owners do not receive enough fibre in their current diet.
A fibre supplement will help rectify this issue and improve health.
(Editor’s note: When our elderly dog, Mia, started developing problems with her bowel movements – diagnosed as canine IBS – two supplements were given that really helped her. One was Promax, which was to assist her when she had loose stools. The other was Protexin Pro-Fibre, which we added to her meal every day to assist more normal bowel movements. Both worked extremely effectively.
How can I tell if my dog’s food already has enough fibre content?
Most dog foods include plenty of fibre within their recipe. The amount of fibre varies depending on the brand, so it’s always good to look at the product ingredients so you know exactly what your pet is eating.
- There is no such thing as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when giving your dog a new type of food, so it’s always good to start small when it comes to fibre supplements.
- Fibre supplements work best when they’re chosen for their taste and not because you think your dog needs them.
- The best type of fibre supplements will be ones that your pet loves and will eat!
- Fibre ingredients can also be combined with other ingredients to make a delicious treat so you can count on the right choice for your dog.
- If you have noticed that your dog has any of the signs that suggest your dog is not getting enough fibre in their diet, it may be a good idea for you to consider fibre supplements.
5 signs your dog may need more fibre in their diet:
- Diarrhoea or vomiting/weight loss/weight gain
- Difficulty staying groomed/unruly hair/dull coat
As ever, if you notice a sudden or even subtle change to your dog’s condition, consult your vet.
There are many simple and affordable tests available now that enable vets to make an accurate diagnosis of particular dog health problems which can often be fixed through minor changes to diet, supplements or minimal medical intervention.
- Your dog’s daily dish should contain around 5% of its total diet to include adequate fibre for proper digestion.
- Most dogs will eat the recommended amount of fibre in their daily diet, but there are some things you can do to make it easier for your pet to get the nutrients they were meant to have.
- Remember this as it’s important: for most dogs fed on a high-quality commercial diet, their food will already contain the precise amount of fibre content needed for your dog.
- For the increasing number of dogs who are fed on custom diets, homemade food, raw food or any other non-commercial/complete food, ensuring they receive a good source of fibre content is crucial to aid their digestion and maintain great health.
- Adding fruit and veggies into your dog’s food will go a long way in ensuring he gets all the essential vitamins and minerals he needs, so if you would like to add more fibre to his diet consider giving him treats with healthy ingredients.
- If you are unsure about how much your dog should eat, or want to ensure his diet is balanced, talk with your veterinarian about getting a complete analysis of your pet’s diet.
The importance of inspecting dog poop
Our dog’s poop is one of the most significant and frequent indicators of their health. It can provide clues into any internal problems you and your vet may have missed or need to investigate further – that’s why it’s extremely important to keep an eye on what comes out during those walks to the park!
How to spot problems in your dog’s poop
Our dog’s poop can tell us a lot, including if there’s something wrong – Tails.com head vet Sean McCormack is on to hand to explain what signs to look out for in your dog’s poop that could indicate health issues or nutritional problems.
“Poop smells, we know that – but is your dog’s poo a little (or a lot) smellier than usual? Stinkier-than-usual poos can indicate your dog’s diet isn’t working for them. Treats, new dog foods or feeding your dog too many scraps from the dinner table are usual suspects when it comes to smelly poos.”
The colour of your dog’s poo can also depend solely on your dog’s diet – reddish, greenish, or dark brown poop are all normal.
If it’s looking black – it could be a sign of internal bleeding, whilst pale yellow or grey poo can be a sign of fat digestion issues in the pancreas or problems in the liver.
When it comes down to it, dogs aren’t so different from us humans – sometimes an out-of-the-ordinary poo isn’t too much to worry about – diarrhoea can be caused by stress, anxiety – or even excitement!
Whilst sometimes constipation can be a tell-tale sign your dog needs to get out more or isn’t drinking enough water.
You know your dog better than anyone if you feel like there’s something wrong – or common problems such as constipation or diarrhoea don’t seem to go away after a few days – don’t hesitate to take your dog to the vet and take a stool sample with you.”
What causes stinky or runny dog poo?
It’s not unusual for dogs to have stinky or runny poos. In fact, dog diarrhoea is one of the most common problems vets see every year. There are many causes for dog or puppy diarrhoea, but here are a few of the most common.
Sudden change in diet
A sudden change in your dog’s diet can cause irritation leading to diarrhoea. If you’re changing your dog’s diet, it’s best to do it gradually as explained in our guide to changing dog food.
If your dog eats something new or inappropriate, this can cause digestive upset. Whether that’s a piece of ham, rocks, a plant, or even dog poo!
Stress, anxiety and excitement can all cause dog diarrhoea, just like in us humans.
Intestinal worms can cause irritation to your dog’s gastrointestinal tract resulting in stomach upset. However, parasites that cause diarrhoea are more common in younger puppies.
Viral and bacterial infections can cause dog diarrhoea. This occurs more frequently in younger dogs.
Conditions like inflammatory bowel disease are common in both dogs and people. Many gastrointestinal disorders can result in diarrhoea.
What makes a good dog poo?
The ideal poo is log-shaped and firm, but not too solid. If your dog’s poo is too hard, this can cause constipation. If your dog is constipated this could be due to a lack of water or fibre in their diet, or a case of worms.
More commonly, when diarrhoea or loose, runny poo occurs, this can result from many different causes.
Most dogs poo around twice a day, but this can depend on their feeding schedule. Puppies tend to poo more frequently because they eat more regularly.
If your dog poos more than three times a day, this could signal there’s something not right with their diet.
Equally, if your dog has a food intolerance, this can also make them more poo more often. If your dog doesn’t poo every day or only once a day, they could be constipated.
Always consider what’s normal for your dog. If your dog’s toilet habits have changed dramatically after switching diet, we can help.
Sudden larger or smaller poos can indicate internal problems. Huge volumes of poo can mean your dog isn’t digesting their food properly, or their diet is high in fibre. Low volumes could indicate gastrointestinal problems or even a blockage.
Dog poo should have a mild odour; any dramatic changes can indicate problems. Flatulence or a particularly stinky poo could signal a change in your dog’s gut flora, or they’re struggling to cope with a new diet or ingredient.
Treats and human foods are common culprits! Dog poo is always going to smell, but with a good diet, your dog’s poos should be bearable.
The colour of your dog’s poo depends a lot on your dog’s diet. Only you know what is normal for your dog. Shades of greenish-brown, red-brown or dark brown are all normal.
However, abnormal colours like dark black tarry substances could indicate internal bleeding and digested blood in the stool. Pale, yellowy or greasy poo can indicate fat digestion issues with the pancreas, or malabsorption where your dog can’t absorb fat.
Any dramatic changes in colour, from very pale, bright orange or visible blood is a cause for concern. In this case, always see your vet and take a stool sample with you.
What to do about your dog’s irregular poos? So if your dog’s poo seems out of the ordinary, always get them checked out by a vet.
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