Uncovering the Benefits of Dietary Fibre in Canine Nutrition

In this blog we unravel the significance of dietary fibre in your dog’s nutrition. In this exploration, we’ll delve into the intriguing world of fibre and its vital role in canine well-being. Discover the key aspects of fibre, from its fermentability to its impact on different breeds. Keep reading for insights on fibre types, weight management, and more.

Understanding Dietary Fibre

Dietary fibre is not an essential nutrient for dogs. Unlike carbohydrates, fats and proteins, it provides dogs with little direct energy. Instead, it resists digestion in the small intestine and undergoes fermentation in the large intestine.

Despite not being a dietary essential, fibre can work wonders for your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. It aids in the growth of beneficial bacteria and helps regulate bowel movements, contributing to a healthy digestive system.

Fermentation And Short Chain Fatty Acids

When dietary fibre is fermented by gut bacteria in the large intestine, it produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).

Short-chain fatty acids, such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate, are the beneficial by-products of fibre fermentation, providing energy for cells.

They also play a pivotal role in dogs’ digestive health and weight management. SCFAs serve to regulate various physiological processes, including maintaining a healthy gut environment and stimulating the release of gastrointestinal satiety-related hormones.

Soluble vs. Insoluble Fibre

Fiber can be broadly categorized as either soluble (able to disperse in water) or insoluble (not dispersible in water), although some types of fibre exhibit characteristics of both categories, and there are exceptions like resistant starch. Sources of soluble fibre such as psyllium husk or guar gum are often more readily fermentable by bacteria in the large intestine than insoluble fibre, such as wheat bran.

Insoluble fibre provides no energy for your dog, but it helps to normalise food transit during digestion, regulate bowel movements, provides bulk and absorbs excess moisture to firm up stools.

Soluble fibre also helps to regulate bowel movements and can slow digestive transit time which is particularly beneficial during bouts of diarrhoea. It also regulates blood glucose and cholesterol by binding to these molecules preventing absorption. Finally, soluble fibre is fermented in the large intestine producing SCFA which maintains and improves colonic health.  

Weight Management and Fibre

High-fibre foods are instrumental in weight loss for dogs.

Low-fermentable fibre enhances the sensation of fullness by increasing bulk in the stomach and intestines.

In contrast, high-fermentable fibres, increase the feeling of fullness through the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), which stimulate the release of gastrointestinal satiety-related hormones.

Benefits of High Fibre Diets

High-fibre diets in combination with high protein have been found to improve body condition during weight loss in dogs. They assist in shedding excess fat while retaining essential lean body mass, leading to improvements in body condition. We will discuss more about body condition here.

However, it’s important to note that increasing dietary fibre can reduce the digestibility of key nutrients like protein and fat, warranting careful consideration of the level of fibre in your dog’s diet. Ideally fibre content for healthy dogs should not exceed 4.5% to ensure they are getting the most nutrition from their food while reaping the benefits of fibre.

Fibre and Breed Differences

One particularly interesting aspect of fibre is its differential impact on small and large dog breeds. Large breeds exhibit reduced tolerance for high levels of fermentable fibre and resistant starch, which can lead to loose stools. 

Resistant starch, like fermentable fibre, evades digestion in the small intestine and undergoes fermentation in the large intestine. 

A study by Goudez et al. (2011) investigated the effects of adding graded levels of resistant potato starch and resistant maize starch to dogs’ diets. They found that when potato starch reached 11.4%, this caused 89.1% unacceptable faecal scores in large breed dogs compared with small breeds who had good faecal scores at least 85% of the time. One Giant Schnauzer had to be removed from the study due to severe diarrhoea when resistant starch from maize was at 7.4%.

This difference between small and large breed dogs could be explained by the  higher fermentative activity in the
colon of large breeds, which in part can be explained by the
proportionally larger size of the colon. As well as increased intestinal permeability compared with small dogs.

Examples of foods high in resistant starch include potatoes, rice and legumes:

The fibre in Proper Dog Food comes from psyllium husk, which is primarily a soluble fibre, as well as hemp seeds, which is 80% insoluble fibre and 20% soluble fibre. We believe this combination at this level is perfect for providing your dog with a balance of fermentable and non-fermentable fibre. Start your feed real journey with Proper Dog Food today – your dog will thank you for it!

In conclusion, while fibre isn’t deemed an essential nutrient for dogs, it unquestionably plays a pivotal role in their overall health and well-being. Understanding the intricacies of various types of dietary fibre and their effects on your dog’s diet is fundamental to making informed choices regarding their nutrition.

Key Takeaways

  • Dietary fibre, while not an essential nutrient plays a crucial role in the gastrointestinal health of dogs.

  • Certain dietary fibres undergo fermentation in the large intestine, producing beneficial short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that support digestive health and weight management in dogs.

  • Fibre can be categorized as soluble or insoluble, each with unique benefits. Insoluble fibre aids in normalizing food transit and firming up stools, while soluble fibre regulates bowel movements, blood glucose, and cholesterol, and contributes to colonic health.

  • High-fibre diets aid in weight loss for dogs, either by increasing bulk to promote fullness or through the production of SCFAs that stimulate satiety-related hormones.

  • High-fibre diets, when combined with high protein, can improve body condition during weight loss by shedding excess fat while retaining lean body mass. Careful consideration is necessary to balance fibre content properly with the other nutrients in your dog’s food to ensure they are receiving optimal nutrition.

  • Fibre’s impact varies between small and large dog breeds, with larger breeds being less tolerant of high levels of fermentable fibre and resistant starch, possibly due to factors like colon size and intestinal permeability.

  • Resistant starch, like soluble fibre, undergoes fermentation in the large intestine but affects small and large dog breeds differently. Large breeds are more susceptible to digestive issues with resistant starch consumption.


  1. Deng, P. et al. (2013) ‘Dietary fibre fermentability but not viscosity elicited the “second-meal effect” in healthy adult dogs’, British Journal of Nutrition, 110(5), pp. 960–968. doi:10.1017/s0007114513000020.
  2. Dr. Anjali Gautam, Dr. Kumar Govil, Dr. Dinesh Thakur, Dr. Adesh Kumar, Dr. KPS Saini. Scientific dog feeding for good health and its preparation: A review. J Entomol Zool Stud 2018;6(3):1683-1689
  3. Goudez, R. et al. (2011) “Influence of different levels and sources of resistant starch on faecal quality of dogs of various body sizes,” British Journal of Nutrition, 106(S1). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/s0007114511003345.
  4. Jewell DE, Toll PW, Azain MJ, Lewis RD, Edwards GL. Fiber but not conjugated linoleic acid influences adiposity in dogs. Vet Ther. 2006 Summer;7(2):78-85. PMID: 16871489.
  5. Kempe, R. and Saastamoinen, M. (2007) “Effect of linseed cake supplementation on digestibility and faecal and haematological parameters in dogs,” Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, 91(7-8), pp. 319–325. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0396.2006.00657.x.
  6. Nybroe, S., Astrup, A. and Bjørnvad, C.R. (2016) “Dietary supplementation with flaxseed mucilage alone or in combination with calcium in dogs: Effects on apparent digestibility of fat and energy and fecal characteristics,” International Journal of Obesity, 40(12), pp. 1884–1890. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2016.139.
  7. Rankovic, A., Adolphe, J.L. and Verbrugghe, A. (2019) “Role of carbohydrates in the health of dogs,” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 255(5), pp. 546–554. Available at: https://doi.org/10.2460/javma.255.5.546.
  8. Respondek, F. et al. (2008) ‘Short-chain fructooligosaccharides influence insulin sensitivity and gene expression of fat tissue in obese dogs2’, The Journal of Nutrition, 138(9), pp. 1712–1718. doi:10.1093/jn/138.9.1712.
  9. Weber, M.P., Biourge, V.C. and Nguyen, P.G. (2016) “Digestive sensitivity varies according to size of dogs: A Review,” Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, 101(1), pp. 1–9. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/jpn.12507.

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Bone Broth - Proper Dog Food - Natural Ingredients, No additives

Proper Bone Broth
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