Fibre is a real superhero of digestive health – not just for us, but our pets too. Fibre comes in two forms; soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre rapidly absorbs water and ferments, providing energy for the cells lining the colon. Examples of soluble fibres include pectins and gums. Insoluble fibre has a bulking effect, designed to help increase faecal volume to stimulate gut motility and ensure everything moves through smoothly. Examples of insoluble fibre include the woody components of plants such as lignin and cellulose.
It’s important to note that fibre is not a filler – it serves a vital function in your pet’s diet. In fact, some fibres act as a prebiotic – feeding the good bacteria in the gut and maintaining a healthy balance.
Why do dogs need fibre? What are the benefits of fibre in your dog’s diet?
Dogs need fibre to help maintain a healthy gut microbiome and keep everything in the bathroom department moving along smoothly. Fibre encourages a healthy stool consistency; keeping the stool firm enough to pick up, and easy enough for the pet to pass without difficulty. Different forms of fibre play different roles and offer unique benefits; soluble fibre can help soften hard stools and relieve constipation, drawing water back into the stool while insoluble fibres can help bulk up soft or small ‘rabbit poos’ to ensure the dog is able to fully evacuate their bowels comfortably.
What happens if dogs don’t get enough fibre?
Some dogs may struggle with soft stools if their diet is lacking in fibre, as the water absorbing properties of soluble fibre combined with the bulking ability of insoluble fibre can help to improve overall faecal quality. A lack of fibre in the diet can also affect the natural expression of the anal glands or make it difficult for your dog to go to the toilet normally, causing uncomfortable straining.
Does fibre help a dog’s digestive system?
Some common types of fibre used in pet food act as prebiotics – what this means is they help provide a food source for the beneficial bacteria in the gut and help them colonise and outcompete the harmful types of bacteria. In some circumstances, they can be even more effective than the addition of probiotics – as you are nurturing the dog’s own unique microbiome.
Does fibre help dogs maintain a healthy weight?
Fibre has the added benefit of improving satiety – the feeling of fullness after a meal. It may help reduce begging behaviours in between meals and lower the caloric density of the food to help encourage weight loss or prevent excessive weight gain. Many low calorie foods will have a higher proportion of fibre for this reason.
|Fibre source||Type of fibre|
|Beet pulp||Soluble and insoluble components|
|Psyllium husk||Soluble and insoluble components|
|Fructoligosacchride (FOS)||Soluble fibre|
|Chicory root||Soluble fibre|
|Powdered cellulose||Insoluble fibre|
|Oat fibre||Insoluble fibre|
|Wheat bran||Insoluble fibre|