Dog food and canine nutrition are big business. They are well-researched and well balanced – for the most part. If you want your dog to stay healthy and lean, it’s a good idea to do a bit of research into what their optimal diet is yourself instead of trusting commercials and marketing.
Just like humans, dog require specific nutrients to be healthy – there is a common of them that most people agree on. They are:
But where is the fiber? Is fiber really important for a dog? How do I provide my dog with fiber? There are a few things to keep in mind:
Right amount of fiber – a typical doggy diet should include somewhere between 2.5% and 4.5% of fiber. This is accoruding to the National Research Concil of the National Academies.
Sources of fiber – You should pick a high fiber dog food – and monitor the amount of fiber that your dog receives on a daily basis. If you like to cook on your own, figure out the fiber amount in the ingredients – ironically, it’s easy to overdo it.
Too much fiber – if you go overboard with fiber, your dog might end up having problems with their digestive system until you regulate their fiber intake. Some of these problems include frequent defecation, loose stool, and make your dog digest less of other important nutrients – everything will simply pass through their system too quickly!
Too little fiber – constipation is a common sign of not having enough fiber in your diet – whether you’re a dog or a human. A dog can’t tell you about their difficulties, but some signs are: hard and dried-out looking stools, no stools at all for a few days, restlessness and whimpering or even vomiting.
Eating Grass – Right or Wrong?
If you have a dog, you have probably observed this interesting behavior. We associate dogs with eating meaty things high in protein – but is this really true? The only domesticated animal that eats mostly protein and it’s natural diet is 100% meat is a cat. But a dog is supposed to have some roughage – even in the wild, wolves have been observed exhibiting this behavior. Animals like coyotes, foxes and wolves also eat other plant material, like berries and certain leaves.
A study that was published in the 2007 Journal of Veterinary Science stated that dogs in the study stopped eating grass once their diet was changed to a high-fiber diet. Of course, sometimes a dog might just eat grass in order to clear their system – and by that, we mean that dogs use grass as a purging aid if they’re not feeling too great.
In this case, the grass-eating behavior is thought to have different purposes. Sometimes if a dog isn’t eating well, it will rapidly consume large quantities of grass in order to purge their system. But sometimes, a dog will deliberately choose plants and nibble on them or eat them in order to supplement their fiber.
Amazing Sources of Fiber for Dogs
The rule is – no human food! This applies to all sorts of processed junk that dogs simply cannot digest. Chocolate, processed foods and high-fat and sugary human foods can only do harm.
But this does not apply to fruits and vegetables, which dogs should actually eat on a regular basis. If you make some of your own dog food keep these super fiber veggies in mind for your dog:
- Any whole grains like brown rice or wheat berries
This is a great way to improve your dog’s fiber intake, and make them stop eating grass. While not harmful in itself, there is a possibility that grass is tainted with parasite eggs or other microorganisms that could harm your four-legged friend. It’s best to keep them from “grazing” in the wild.
But remember – it’s still wrong to feed your dog human leftovers, that may include irritants, spices, too much fat and other chemicals that can harm a canine digestive system and organs!
Pros and Cons of Cooking at Home
Sometimes, especially if your dog has special nutritional needs, it’s easy to throw your arms up in desperation and decide that you’re going to cook yourself. It’s becoming more and more popular. How hard is it?
While it’s tempting, there actually isn’t any supporting scientific evidence that says that homecooking is better for your dog. It does, however, put you in control of your dog’s diet, and helps you bond on a whole other lever. Did you know that commercial dog food didn’t become “mainstream” until the 1930’s and 1940’s? In fact, Nabisco was the first “milk biscuit” supplier, and they pretty much cornered the market.
Ken-L-Ration was the first canned dogfood in the 1920s – they knew how to market themselves and actually began sponsoring the radio show about adventures of Rin Tin Tin – a huge dog person. Animals began to be bred to be slaughtered for dog food only.
The problem with cooking at home is keeping true to all the nutritional requirements. Dog food companies today operate on a mostly scientific basis and have strict guidelines when it comes to what vitamins and nutrients have to be in their food.
If you’re the type of person that likes to measure, weigh and count everything – this won’t be a problem. But if you’re having a hard time just following a simple recipe, it’s perhaps your best option to go with store or vet bought dog food.
A Balanced Canine Diet
Above all, it’s important to keep it balanced – great nutrition and regular exercise is the key to great canine health. Fiber is a great part of that, although seldom mentioned on the list of six most important things in a dog’s diet. A shame, since it can maker or break a digestive system!