A Quick Refresher on Fiber
If you missed our earlier blog about Why Fiber is So Important for your Pet. We want to provide a quick refresher course:
Fiber is found in fruits and vegetables as well as complex carbohydrate sources. When you hear the word “prebiotic” in many cases you can replace it with the word, fiber. Fiber is the most common form of a prebiotic. There are two types: soluble fiber (dissolves easily in water)r and insoluble fiber (does not dissolve in water) and your pawed pal needs to consume both from a variety of sources. Though many doctors and vets warn humans and pet parents of the dangers of carbohydrates in their diets, this is mainly true for those highly processed carbs such as sugar, malto-dextrin, corn starch, etc.. It’s important to differentiate between the sources of carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates such as those found in whole foods. These foods are naturally higher in fiber content (simple carbohydrate sources may be completely devoid of fiber) and are also higher in essential nutrients.
Good sources of fibrous foods include:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Kidney Beans
How much is needed?
While many people don’t measure out their pets food, if you did, a good rule of thumb is somewhere between 5 grams of fiber and 30 grams of fiber a day depending on the pet small dogs or cats would get closer to 5g and whereas larger dogs could consume around as much as 25g-30g of fiber. As a contrast a minimum for an adult should be around 40g-45g a day ideally closer to 60g. In terms of measurement of a less precise kind, this can be a small portion (a good measurement is 1 tablespoon of vegetables or sweet potato depending on the size of your dog. For cats, this amount could be 2-3 teaspoons.) but will add nutrients as well different types of fiber, which again feed the good bacteria in their tummies.
This is typically between 10% and 15% of your pawed paw’s daily caloric intake.Dogs and cats need a certain amount of fiber in their diet to support their digestive health. The recommended amount of fiber for pets can vary depending on their size and specific needs. As a general guideline, small dogs or cats may need around 5 grams (5g) of fiber per day, while larger dogs could consume up to 25-30 grams (25g-30g) of fiber. It's important to note that these are approximate values and may vary depending on the individual pet.
Including a variety of fiber sources in your pet's diet is also important. Fiber can be found in fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrate sources. Some examples of fiber-rich foods for pets include lentils, chickpeas, broccoli, sweet potatoes, squash, oats, barley, kidney beans, and cabbage. Adding whole food sources of fiber, such as a raw mixture of vegetables, can enhance fiber absorption and provide additional nutrients for your pet.
Commercial dog foods that are highly processed may contain minimal fiber, so it's beneficial to supplement your pet's diet with whole food sources of fiber. Additionally, giving your pet a digestive enzyme, such as those found in specific enzyme formulations for dogs and cats, can help them break down their food and unlock the fiber and other nutrients more easily.
Including fiber in your pet's diet can have several benefits, including better nutrient absorption, a stronger immune system, and a healthier gut. Fiber acts like a broom in the digestive tract, pushing out waste and promoting regular bowel movements. It also contributes to the shape, smell, and composition of your pet's stools. Furthermore, fiber helps boost the diversity of probiotics in your pet's digestive tract, which is essential for their overall health and well-being.
Remember to consult with your veterinarian to determine the specific fiber requirements for your dog or cat, as individual needs may vary.
What to watch for and how to enhance fiber absorption.
Many commercial dog foods which are highly processed contain minimal fiber and if there is fiber, it’s going to be the same source. In addition, kibbles for dogs and cats which are grain free which may not have whole food sources of fiber at all. Even with those non-grain free foods, it is beneficial to add whole food sources of fiber such as a raw mixture of vegetables (red cabbage, broccoli, carrots) as well as root vegetables such as squash, pumpkin and sweet potato on top fo their food.
Giving it with a digestive enzyme, such as those found in our Restore M3® - specifically formulated enzymes for dogs and cats - is a good idea too as it will help them breakdown their food to unlock the fiber and other nutrients more easily which means less stinky farts and funky poops while your dog or cat adjusts to their new diet higher in fiber.
The Amount of Fiber Contained in Certain Beneficial Foods
Sweet Potatoes | Nutrition Facts
The nutrition facts for 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of raw sweet potatoes are:
- Calories: 86
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Carbs: 20.1 grams
- Fat: 0.1 grams
- Protein: 1.6 grams
- Sugar: 4.2 grams
- Water: 77%
Brown Rice | Nutrition Facts
One cup of brown rice contains:
- Calories: 216
- Fiber: 3.5 grams
- Carbs: 44 grams
- Fat: 1.8 grams
- Protein: 5 grams
Broccoli | Nutrition Facts
Raw broccoli contains almost 90% water, 7% carbs, 3% protein, and almost no fat.
Broccoli is very low in calories, providing only 35 calories per cup, or 90 grams (g).
The nutrition facts for 1 cup (90 g) of raw broccoli are:
- Calories: 35
- Protein: 2.3 g
- Carbs: 5.6 g
- Fiber: 2.2 g
- Fat: 0.3 g
Better nutrient absorption long term, assisting with the digestive process and buildings a stronger immune system (read more in this Dog’s Naturally article on fiber) and cleaner healthier gut. In addition, for dogs and cats with issues with diabetes or controlling their cholesterol levels, increasing your pet’s fiber intake can help. This is because fiber is like a broom and pushes out all of the junk and gunk stock in the digestive tract, similar to how a pipe cleaner works for a dirty straw or drinking tube.
Fiber also helps slow the process of digestion which can help regular insulin levels in pets who have issues with insulin regulation. Another enjoyable benefit for you and your pet are healthier poops because fiber contributes positively to the shape, smell and composition of your pet’s poops (higher protein diets are a negative contributor) you can read more about that in this study on pet stool quality.
Finally, one of the best benefits of fiber is the boosting of the diversity of probiotics in your pet’s digestive tract. Fiber is the fertilizer that feeds the lawn which is your pets immune ecosystem. Without adequate fiber a pet's life can be compromised by more illnesses, sluggishness and weight gain.
Soluble Fiber vs. Insoluble Fiber
Sweet Potatoes 101 | Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
Is Brown Rice Good For You?
Broccoli 101 | Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
Fiber and Waste Byproduct
What are Prebiotics and How to Get Them