Why Is Fiber in Your Dog's Food?
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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_block455Nutrition for Large- and Giant-Breed Adult Dogs
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Healthy joints and proper weight are especially important for dogs that grow to be more than 50 pounds. But not all large- and giant-breed adult dogs have the same nutritional needs. Is your dog getting proper exercise? Is she about to have puppies? Special conditions can dramatically affect your dog’s nutritional demands. Giving her a food specially formulated for her large size, life stage and activity level is the easiest way to make sure she’s getting the nutrients she needs.
Choosing a Food for Overall Health
To address the special needs of your large- or giant-breed dog, look for these features:
- Less fat to help maintain an ideal body condition for less joint stress
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for healthy skin, shiny coat and overall health
- Essential vitamins and minerals to help support the immune system and help maintain good health
- High-quality animal-based protein sources to help maintain muscle tone
- A moderately fermentable fiber source, such as beet pulp, to maintain intestinal health, enhance your dog's ability to absorb nutrients, and reduce backyard cleanup
- A carbohydrate blend to help sustain energy by maintaining normal blood sugar levels
These components are key to good nutrition. Look for them in treats, wet dog food, or dry dog food, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Adult Large Breed.
Maintaining Healthy Joints and Cartilage
Joint health is a big concern for owners of large- and giant-breed dogs. A large- or giant-breed formula that contains high-quality protein can help nourish healthy joints. Vitamins and minerals help promote the production of cartilage. Also, keeping your dog at a healthy weight will help minimize joint stress.
Guarding Against Weight Gain
Dogs with lower activity levels and dogs that have been neutered or spayed are all prone to weight gain. Controlling your dog’s weight is an important step toward protecting against the health effects of excess weight, such as diabetes or joint health problems. If you use a weight-management food, look for these characteristics:
- A reduced fat level that still offers essential nutrients for skin and coat health
- L-carnitine, a key nutrient that helps burn fat and maintain muscle mass during weight loss
- Special carbohydrate blends that help maintain energy while managing weight
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for overall health
Providing Nutrition During Pregnancy
Pregnant dogs have substantial nutrition requirements. Starting in the seventh week of her pregnancy, a mother dog will need to increase her energy intake up to 50% by the time she gives birth and increase it even more when she starts nursing her puppies. Because she may lose her appetite at times, it's important that she eats a nutrient-dense food. A complete, balanced puppy formula can give her the extra nutrients she needs. But avoid puppy food created for large and giant breeds; these formulas contain specially adjusted levels of energy and minerals that may not be sufficient for a pregnant or nursing dog.
Switching to a Mature Diet
Dogs who grow to be more than 50 pounds are considered mature or senior at age 5 or 6, which is earlier than small-breed dogs. So, it’s critical to make a proactive transition to a specially formulated mature diet, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Mature Adult Large Breed, to help keep your dog healthy and active as she ages.
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