Fiber in Dog Food: Benefits, Risks, and Best Practices
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Fiber is important to your dog's health, providing bulk to move food through his intestinal tract. Some types of fiber can be fermented (broken down by bacteria) in the intestinal tract. This process creates short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), which are a key energy source for the cells lining the intestinal tract.
What's Good for You Might Not Be Good for Your Dog
Most people are aware of fiber and its role in their diet. The beneficial effects of higher fiber levels in humans influence the way many people think about their own food—and their pets’ food. As a result, some pet-food manufacturers began to think like human nutritionists and make high-fiber diets for dogs. But high-fiber diets and the shorter digestive tracts of dogs don't always mix well. High fiber levels in dogs can cause digestive problems and interfere with proper nutrient absorption. Unlike humans, dogs are carnivorous, meaning their nutritional needs are better satisfied with meat rather than with plant materials.
Fiber Levels and Fermentability
For more than 60 years, pet nutritionists at IAMS™ have been studying diets to better meet the special nutritional needs of dogs. IAMS research shows that the optimal crude-fiber level for healthy dogs ranges from 1.4 to 3.5%. At these levels, nutrient digestibility is maximized.
An important characteristic of fiber is its fermentability, or how well it can be broken down by the bacteria that normally reside in the dog's intestine. This breakdown of dietary fiber produces SCFAs that provide energy to the cells lining the intestines. Different types of fiber vary in fermentability.
Fiber sources used in pet foods include cellulose, which is poorly fermentable; beet pulp, which is moderately fermentable; and gums and pectin, which can be highly fermentable.
Research has shown that moderate levels of moderately fermentable fiber, such as beet pulp, provide the benefits of energy for the intestinal lining and bulk without the negative effects of excessive stool or gas.
High Fiber and Weight Loss
High levels of poorly fermentable fiber are used in some weight-reduction pet foods to dilute the calories in a serving. IAMS research found that this is not a good practice because high fiber levels can decrease the digestibility of other nutrients in the food and, therefore, can reduce the nutritional quality of the diet. You might also see more poop piles in the yard because of the indigestible fiber.
Fiber in IAMS Dog Foods
The key thing to remember about dietary fiber is that your dog's needs are not the same as yours. A moderate level of moderately fermentable fiber, such as beet pulp, provides proven nutritional benefits for dogs. Diets containing high levels of poorly fermentable fiber to dilute calorie content do not provide these nutritional benefits.
All IAMS products, including IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Adult MiniChunks, are formulated with optimal levels of moderately fermentable fiber to promote a healthy intestinal tract and enhance the well-being of your dog.
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- adp_description_block499Understanding Puppy Food Nutrition Labels
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How much do you know about the food you’re buying for your puppy? When shopping for puppy food, pay attention to these three sections of a dog food label.
1. The Ingredient Panel
This section lists all the ingredients that make up the product. The ingredients are listed in descending order according to weight before cooking. In dry food, look for a source of high-quality animal-based protein: chicken or lamb, for example. Dogs thrive on animal proteins.
Manufacturers who use large amounts of vegetable proteins might be saving money by providing basic — but not optimal — nutrition. You should also avoid artificial colors and flavors, which offer no nutritional benefits.
2. The Guaranteed Analysis
Near the ingredient panel should be a chart of percentages called the 'guaranteed analysis.' These figures reveal the basic nutrient makeup of the dog food's formula and protein content. The minimum percentages of protein and fat and the maximum percentages of fiber and moisture (water) should be listed.
3. The Manufacturer’s Name and Address
This information must be included on the label by law. A toll-free number or web address for the manufacturer may also be listed. Manufacturers who list a phone number, such as IAMS™, generally have a high-quality product and welcome consumer calls and questions. If you would like information about IAMS products, visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-525-4267.
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