If you’re considering adding less fiber to your dog’s diet, there are a few things to consider. Dogs need a moderate level of moderately fermentable fiber, such as beet pulp, for nutritional benefits.
The most important thing to understand about fiber is its fermentability and how well it can be broken down by bacteria in the dog’s intestine. This buying guide will cover the best low-fiber or low-residue dog food brands and formulas for your dog. We’ll also touch on what fiber is and why it’s essential for dogs.
Large poop piles from your pup usually mean high levels of poorly fermentable fiber, usually used in weight reduction pet foods to dilute calories. Studies show that feeding your dogs high levels of fiber can decrease the digestibility of other nutrients.
IAMS research demonstrates that the optimal crude-fiber level for healthy dogs ranges from 1.4 to 3.5%. At these levels, nutrient digestibility is maximized. Many commercial dog foods contain fiber, but the amount and type of fiber vary greatly.
Some brands use fiber as a filler, while others add it for digestive health benefits. The best way to see if a dog food recipe is suitable for your pup is to talk to your veterinarian and ask about specific brands or formulations.
High-fiber diets for weight loss in dogs
Studies have demonstrated that high-fiber diets may be beneficial for weight loss in obese dogs. These studies include a 2022 study on the effect of the level and source of fiber intake in dogs explains that increased fiber intake is a common nutritional intervention used for weight management in dogs.
Another study adds, “In summary, in the home setting, high-fiber food is more effective than a high-protein/high-fat food for weight loss in obese pet dogs.”
However, Iams adds that this is not a good practice since high-fiber diets, which may include poorly fermentable fiber, can decrease the digestibility of other nutrients in the pet food and the diet’s nutrition and quality. Iams concludes, “A moderate level of moderately fermentable fiber, such as beet pulp, provides proven nutritional benefits for dogs.”
Before shopping around, you must know what makes up an excellent low-residue diet because there is a wide variety available on store shelves today – though not all will suit every pet parent’s needs equally well based on their breed type/size forth. So here’s the takeaway on our top 6 picks for the best low-fiber dog food.
Wellness CORE Grain-Free High-Protein Dry Dog Food is made with a high concentration of premium protein from fresh meat ingredients and nutrient-rich superfoods for a complete and balanced diet.
It’s available in grain and grain-free recipes and limited ingredient diets for dogs with food sensitivities. This recipe includes glucosamine for hip and joint health, probiotics, and taurine for heart health.
Wellness CORE is also made with leaner body mass and muscle tone in mind and supports healthy skin and coat with guaranteed levels of omega fatty acids from ingredients such as flaxseed and salmon oil.
We like this formula because it’s affordable for multi-pet homes and features only 4% fiber. Wellness Core is also crafted with a high concentration of protein from fresh meat ingredients. This product has over 7,600 positive reviews.
- Over 7,600 positive reviews
- Numerous recipes and size options
- Includes parsley, blueberries, kale, carrots, broccoli, and apples
- Fiber at 4%
- Grain-free formula
This nutrient-rich food provides your dog’s energy to thrive, with vitamins and minerals from fruits and superfoods, omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, and species-specific K9 Strain probiotics.
Plus, it’s family owned and made in the USA using premium ingredients from trusted, sustainable sources worldwide. This formula has 4% fiber and 32% high protein. It also has over 18,000 positive reviews. We like this formula because protein is at 32%, and it also features fruits and veggies that provide valuable nutrients.
- Fiber at 4%
- Calorie content 422 kcal/cup
- Alternate sources of digestible carbs: peas and sweet potatoes
- High-protein dog food
- Roasted bison and venison formula
- Includes K9 strain proprietary probiotics
- Crafted with blueberries, raspberries, and sweet potatoes
The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Dog Food is a complete and balanced meal for adult dogs and puppies of all breeds and sizes, including large-breed puppies and adult mothers (gestation/lactation).
This formula features wholesome human-grade ingredients like free-range chicken, organic oats, carrots and bananas. Each recipe is produced in a human food facility where our ingredients are gently dehydrated for maximum flavor, nutrient retention, and digestion. This dog food is USDA-certified organic, non-GMO verified by the non-GMO Project Verification seal. This product has over 9,000 positive reviews.
- Organic and wholesome
- Over 9,000 positive reviews
- Makes 40 lbs. pounds of food
- Includes organic oats, carrots & bananas.
- 100% Human grade ingredients
- No preservatives, by-products, fillers, GMO ingredients, corn, wheat, or soy.
NUTRO NATURAL CHOICE Small Bites Adult dry dog food, lamb, and Brown Rice Recipe is made with non-GMO ingredients and provides small bites for dogs that prefer smaller kibble.
The high-quality protein source is the no.1 ingredient in this delicious dry kibble, which is also formulated to support healthy immunity with essential antioxidants and healthy digestion with natural fiber. This product has over 6,300 positive reviews and features fiber at 3.5%. It’s formulated for optimal immune health and easy digestibility and also includes essential antioxidants. There is no chicken by product meals, corn, wheat or soy ingredients.
- Affordable for multi-pet homes
- Lamb or chicken options
- Three size options
- Over 6,300 positive reviews
- Calorie content at 341 kcal/cup
- Small bites for small dog breeds
- Fiber at 3.5 %, protein at 22%
- Non-GMO ingredients
Purina Beyond Organic canned dog food is made with organic, free-range chicken raised without antibiotics as the number 1 ingredient. This high-protein wet dog food also features ingredients grown as nature intended and bears the USDA Organic Seal, which means it contains no prohibited synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.
In addition, the Non-GMO Project Verified chicken and sweet potato recipe dog food contains no corn, wheat, soy, or poultry by-product meal. This USDA Organic dog food has no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
- 1.5% fiber
- Numerous recipes and size options
- Includes natural prebiotic fiber
- Organic free-range chicken is the first ingredient
- USDA Organic
- No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
ZIWI’s canned dog food is a novel-protein diet featuring 92% free-range venison, organs, bone, and New Zealand Green Mussels. This chunky pâté is highly palatable for the pickiest dogs and is grain-free and low-carb without cheap fillers.
The 10% superfood boost features cold-washed green tripe, New Zealand Green Mussels, and organic kelp to support digestion, healthy skin and coat, joint health, reduce inflammation and promote heart and brain health. This product has 2% fiber and 10% protein and features six wet food recipes.
- Low carb
- Suitable for all life stages
- 2% fiber and 10% protein
- Suitable kibble topper
- Peak Prey recipes
Who can benefit from a low-fiber diet?
Dogs with certain digestive issues like IBD, vomiting, and diarrhea can benefit from a low-residue diet. This is also true for dogs that have had recent surgery and need an easily digestible diet while their bodies heal. Low-fiber diets are often recommended for dogs with viruses or other illnesses that affect their digestive systems.
Sometimes low, fiber diets are paired with medications to treat diseases. Dogs with kidney and liver disease also do well on low-residue diets because these are highly digestible, placing less stress on the organs. Low-fiber diets do the following:
- Lessons stool amount and frequency with smaller and firmer stools
- It helps with constipation and diarrhea by promoting optimal digestion.
- It allows the pancreas to break down food and regulates blood sugar.
- Assists with the absorption of nutrients like protein
- Beneficial in promoting colon health by reducing swelling and inflammation of the colon
- Reduces flatulence via improved digestion with fewer waste products reaching the colon
Fiber sources in dog food
Fiber sources used in pet foods include the following:
- Cellulose, which is poorly fermentable.
- Beet pulp, which is moderately fermentable.
- Gums and pectin, which can be highly fermentable.
If you’re wondering what a healthy amount of fiber is in dog food, IAMS research shows that the optimal crude-fiber level for healthy dogs ranges from 1.4 to 3.5%. 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 adverse effects of excessive stool or gas.
Iams adds, “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), a key energy source for the cells lining the intestinal tract.”
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Tufts explains that IBD can look like an overgrowth of bacteria in the gut. Dr. Stone, via Tufts, says, “but some dogs on low-fiber diets will experience bacterial overgrowth and, as a result, have recurring diarrhea. That’s not IBD, even though the problem commonly gets misdiagnosed as such.
It tends to happen with recommended dog foods that result in low-residue stools, meaning owners have to clean up less in the yard. But dogs with the problem must go on a higher-fiber diet, which their veterinarians can help their owners choose.” Tufts adds that this situation is more common than IBD.
Dogs with diabetes
Some studies demonstrate that fiber helps control blood sugar for people and pets. Tufts says that ” A type of fiber called insoluble fiber (measured as crude fiber on pet food labels) adds bulk to the diet, thereby slowing digestion and absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream.
Those nutrients include carbohydrates; the more slowly they are absorbed after eating, the less chance there is for blood sugar levels to spike too high.” Tufts adds that high-fiber foods are sometimes lower in calories and that you should speak to your vet before switching dog food.
If your pup is prone to digestive issues and has a sensitive stomach, you should first talk to your veterinarian before switching foods. Tufts adds that there are many reasons for GI issues, not all of which relate to fiber and nutrition.
Tufts explains that even if the GI issues are mild, you should still treat them so that you can rule out various conditions. After that, you can check out your pet food, look at allergies and sensitivities and see if there are intolerances to any specific ingredients.
How much fiber do dogs need?
There is no definitive answer to this question, as every dog has different nutritional needs. Talk to your veterinarian about how much fiber is suitable for your dog.
The AKC explains that fiber is an often-overlooked nutrient in dog foods, but it’s surprisingly beneficial to our dogs. Although it comes only from plant-based ingredients, there are plenty of healthy ways it can be included in your dog’s diet—through ingredients such as sweet potatoes or green beans.
Best sources of fiber for dogs
Video credit: Dogs Naturally Magazine
Many commercial dog foods contain fiber, but the amount and type of fiber vary greatly. Some brands use fiber as a filler, while others add it for digestive health benefits. The best way to see if a certain pet food recipe is suitable for your pup is to talk to your veterinarian and ask about specific brands or formulations.
When it comes to feeding your furbaby, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every pup is unique and has different health and nutritional requirements. What works for one dog may not work for another. The best way to ensure that your pup is getting the nutrition he or she needs is to work with a qualified veterinarian who can help you create a tailored feeding plan.
Claudia Bensimoun is a writer who specializes in dog content and veterinary topics! Aside from writing for We Love Doodles, Claudia also writes for other major dog blogs like Fido Friendly, Animal Wellness Magazine, and the United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA). She has a ghostwritten over 50 different dog e-books. Her passions include animal welfare, veterinary research, and wildlife conservation.
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