If I didn’t know better, I’d think that dietary fiber had the best lobbying apparatus in the civilized world!
Everywhere you look, you see studies explaining the health benefits of fiber for one bodily system or another. And as it turns out, our dogs enjoy many of these same benefits!
This leads many owners to seek out a high-fiber food for their pooch. Before you click-and-pay for the first high-fiber food you see, take a moment to educate yourself about high-fiber dog foods (don’t worry, we’ll explain everything you need to know).
We’ll even recommend five great choices for you, and explain why they’re among the best options. Read on!
High Fiber Dog Food Quick Picks
- Blue Buffalo Healthy Weight (10% fiber) | Grain-free, chicken-based recipe with a hefty fiber count. No poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives. Available from Chewy or Amazon
- Wellness Core Reduced Fat (8.5% fiber) | Grain-free, turkey-based, low-fat recipe with high fiber. Made in the USA with no wheat, corn, soy, meat by-products, or artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Available from Chewy or Amazon
- Nutro Lite Weight Management (11%)| Pasture-fed lamb & brown rice recipe. No chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, or soy protein, and no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. Available from Chewy or Amazon
What Is Fiber, Anyway?
Without delving into a biochemistry discussion, fiber is a type of carbohydrate that can’t be digested by the body (note that some animals digest carbohydrates more effectively than others – dogs aren’t especially good at it, but they get by). Fibers are more-or-less passed through the digestive system intact.
So if fiber can’t be digested by the body, why is it good for us?
Well, moderate amounts of fiber influence your dog’s biology in a number of beneficial ways while making its way from the entrance to the exit. For example, fiber helps to regulate intestinal function, promote colon health, slows the absorption of glucose into the blood and support healthy gut flora.
But not all fibers are created equal, and they differ in several important ways. The most important distinction that the average dog owner should know concerns the fiber’s ability to absorb water.
You may have heard this distinction characterized as soluble or insoluble fiber.
- Soluble fiber absorb lots of water
- Insoluble fibers absorb relatively little water
This small distinction alters the way fiber interacts with your dog’s body. While both are clearly beneficial, soluble fiber is usually preferable because it absorbs water in your dog’s digestive tract and passes relatively easy her digestive system.
How Much Fiber Is in Dog Food?
Most regular dog foods have fiber contents in the 2% to 5% range. So, while there is no governing body that establishes rules for the term “high fiber,” we’ll consider any food with more than 5% fiber content to be a “high fiber food.”
Because fiber contents in excess of 10% or 12% are potentially problematic “high fiber” dog foods typically have between 6% and 10% fiber content.
While fiber values can vary quite a bit in dog food, fiber is relatively inexpensive, so manufacturers are generally eager to provide as much as owners are interested in (this isn’t just for your dog’s benefit, as some manufacturers may try to reduce the amount of expensive protein or fat in your dog’s formula in favor of fiber).
Common Sources of Fiber for Dog Foods
A few of the most common sources of fiber in commercial dog foods include (in no particular order):
You’ll generally want your dog’s food to be based off high-fiber carbohydrates, as opposed to carbs that provide a ton of calories and relatively little fiber, such as refined grains.
Brown rice is better than white, whole grains are better than their processed counterparts.
The Benefits of High-Fiber Dog Foods
Fiber provides many of the same benefits for dogs that it does for their owners. Some of the most noteworthy include:
Improved Digestive Function
Fiber demonstrates an amazing ability to regulate digestive function. It can help draw water into the intestine when necessary to combat constipation, and it can help absorb water from within the intestine, to help combat diarrhea. It also provides additional bulk to your dog’s stools, which can help further ensure smooth intestinal function.
Yup, fiber is pretty awesome for your dog! If your dog’s stool has any irregularities, chances are fiber can help.
Beware though: Too much fiber in your dog’s food will cause her to poop way too much, and it can also cause horrifyingly foul-smelling gas. It is always important to increase the fiber content of your dog’s food slowly.
Improved Blood Sugar Levels
Fiber helps to keep your dog’s blood sugar levels within a more consistent range, which can help prevent obesity and canine diabetes. In fact, is often packed with fiber. It has similar effects in humans, who are also advised to consume plenty of fiber to keep blood sugar levels stable.
Satiation from Fewer Calories
Fiber takes up a bunch of space in your dog’s stomach, and because it isn’t digested by the body, this is essentially a calorie-free way of helping your dog feel full and satisfied.
Obviously, your dog still needs plenty of protein, fat and digestible carbohydrates, but by mixing in a few high-fiber ingredients, your dog will feel full, while ingesting fewer calories.
This is why fiber is often a major ingredient for dog foods designed to help your dog lose weight. For dogs who are struggling with obesity, it may be smart to replace your dog’s standard treats with high-fiber dog treats for a while too!
Quality Dog Food Checklist: The Must-Haves
Whether you are searching for a food that addresses a specific nutritional need or you are just looking for a good all-around option, you should always be sure to provide your dog with a high-quality food.
Generally speaking, this means you want to look keep the following things in mind:
Opt for foods that list a whole protein as the first ingredient. Dogs are omnivores, who remain healthiest on a diet containing a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, but the bulk of their calories should come from protein sources. Dogs are not obligate carnivores in the sense that cats or rattlesnakes are, but they should still be provided with a meat-based diet.
Avoid foods with unidentified (or poorly identified) meat meals or byproducts. There is nothing inherently wrong with meat meals or byproducts; in fact, many contain a wealth of nutritional value. Your dog will actually enjoy health benefits from eating the cartilage, connective tissues, livers, gizzards and other organs that makeup meat meals and byproducts (although it may make your own stomach a bit squeamish). While beneficial, these food items must always be identified by a single species. In other words, you must avoid things like “meat meal” and “poultry byproducts,” but foods with “duck meal” or “pork byproducts” are perfectly acceptable.
Avoid foods with artificial colors or flavors. Artificial colors and flavors are completely unnecessary for foods comprised of nutritious ingredients. Your dog doesn’t care what color her food is, and good ingredients taste good without artificial enhancers. And while these ingredients aren’t exactly dangerous, they can trigger dog food allergies.
Look for foods that provide health-enhancing nutrients, such as omega fatty acids and antioxidants. Omega fatty acids (particularly omega-3 fatty acids) provide a number of health benefits, ranging from reduced inflammation to good coat condition, while antioxidants help support immune function, among other things.
Try to select foods manufactured in a country with high food-safety standards. This will help limit the potential hazards that may be lurking in your dog’s food. In practice, this means choosing foods manufactured in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or Western Europe.
Look for foods that contain probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help to promote proper intestinal function. When combined with a high-fiber diet, they pack quite the one-two punch. Opt for a dog food with probiotics included in the formula for a super stomach-friendly meal.
Health Conditions High-Fiber Dog Food Can Help Treat
Given the diverse array of benefits foods with high fiber content can provide your dog, it shouldn’t be surprising that these diets can become a key tool in the treatment of a number of health problems.
Some of the most noteworthy health conditions fiber can help treat include:
In addition to the role high-fiber diets can play in reducing the number of calories your dog consumes, fiber can help promote a healthy intestinal flora, which is thought to help combat weight gain and accelerate weight loss.
As explained earlier, fiber helps to curb most types of intestinal dysfunction.
You should always consult your vet if your pooch exhibits long-term intestinal problems of any type, but you can rest assured that your vet will probably discuss your dog’s fiber intake, and recommend increasing it, if you are not already providing a high-fiber diet.
Anal Gland Problems
Fair warning: This is going to get graphic.
Dogs have a pair of anal glands located at roughly the 4- and 8-o-clock positions around their anus. These glands produce a waxy, foul-smelling secretion (I warned you), that is normally released during the course of a normal bowel movement.
However, these glands occasionally become clogged, leading to pain and a host of other problems. This is one of the most common reasons dogs “scoot” across the floor, dragging their butts.
Obviously, this is a problem to be avoided. Fortunately, fiber is once again here to save the day. Fiber helps bulk up your dog’s stools, and this can help put more pressure on the anal glands, which can often ensure they empty regularly.
Because of the way in which fiber helps to regulate blood sugar levels, it is often helpful in the management of diabetes. It may even help prevent Type-II diabetes, as it helps reduce food intake, although Type-II diabetes is not terribly common in dogs.
The Five Best High-Fiber Dog Foods: Reviews & Ratings
If you need a high-fiber food for your pooch, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better options than the five listed below.
Note that most of these recipes are explicitly designed to help your dog lose a little weight. Be sure to work closely with your vet to keep your dog’s body weight in the correct range.
1. Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Reduced Fat Dog Food
About: All Wellness CORE dog foods are among the best products in their individual categories, and their Grain Free Reduced Fat recipe is no exception. Featuring a wealth of nutritious ingredients and a taste that dogs love, this is a great option for dogs that require a high-fiber food.
While there are dog foods on the list with higher fiber content, Wellness does a great job at balancing a higher-than-average fiber content with quality ingredients and protein sources.
Wellness Core Grain-Free Reduced Fat
- No corn, wheat, soy, meat by-products, or artificial colors
- Protein-rich, low-fat formula
- Deboned turkey as #1 ingredient
- Made in the USA
- Contains no wheat, corn, soy, meat by-products, artificial colors, artificial flavors or artificial preservatives
- Protein-rich, low-fat recipe is designed to help support weight loss
- Deboned turkey is the first listed ingredient
- Made in the USA
Maximum Fiber Content: 8.5%
Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Potatoes, Peas, Dried Ground Potatoes, Pea Fiber, Tomato Pomace, Chicken Fat…
PROS: The overwhelming majority of dog owners who tried Wellness CORE’s Reduced Fat Recipe praised the food and reported that their dog found it very palatable. The high-fiber content of the recipe helped alleviate intestinal issues for many dogs and resolve the food-allergy problems that plagued others.
CONS: Most owners who tried Wellness CORE Reduced Fat Dog Food were completely happy with their purchase, but a very small number of pet parents experienced problems relating to shipping difficulties or expired products. But these types of problems can occur with any dog food.
2. Blue Wilderness Blue Buffalo Healthy Weight Chicken Recipe
About: Blue Wilderness recipes are designed to provide your dog with the type of nutrition your dog needs to stay healthy and feeling great. Their Healthy Weight Chicken Recipe is designed to do this while providing a high-fiber punch and helping your dog to remain at a manageable body weight.
Blue Wilderness boasts a substantial 10% fiber while still relying on healthy ingredients, featuring deboned chicken and chicken meal as solid animal proteins to fuel your pooch.
Blue Buffalo Healthy Weight
- No corn, wheat, or soy
- Deboned chicken & chicken meal are first two ingredients
- Lean chicken & turkey protein sources
- Grain-free formula uses peas, sweet potatoes, & potatoes for carbs
- Contains added L-Carnitine to boost metabolism and help burn fat
- Deboned chicken is the first listed ingredient
- Contains blueberries, cranberries, and several other antioxidant-rich ingredients
- Grain-free formula relies on peas, sweet potatoes and potatoes to supply the carbohydrate content
- Made in the USA
Maximum Fiber Content: 10%
Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate), Pea Protein, Peas, Tapioca Starch, Pea Starch, Menhaden Fish Meal (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Pea Fiber…
PROS: Most owners who try Blue Wilderness foods fall in love with them (as do their dogs, who typically find the company’s recipes delicious). This formula not only helped resolve the intestinal issues of many dogs, several owners reported that their dog enjoyed better coat and skin health after switching to this food.
CONS: As with most of the other super-premium foods we tend to review, there were very few complaints about Blue Wilderness Healthy Weight Chicken Recipe. And because of the incredibly reasonable price of this food, it didn’t even receive any complaints about the price. A few people experienced shipping or packaging problems, but these were rare and expected for all products.
3. NUTRO Lite Weight Management
About: NUTRO’s Lite Weight Management Recipe is a fiber-packed food, made with real chicken and real lamb. Designed to help your dog lose weight in a careful, deliberate manner, it doesn’t sacrifice nutrition when cutting calories.
Nutro’s recipe relies on lamb and chicken meal for animal protein, along with whole brown rice, rice bran, split peas, and whole grain oatmeal for an added pack of fiber.
Nutro Lite Weight
- Pasture-fed lamb is #1 ingredient
- Contains whole brown rice, rice bran, and whole-grain oatmeal for a healthy blend of fiber.
- Made in the USA with no artificial flavors, colors, preservative and non-GMO ingredients
- Contains antioxidants like vitamin E, plus vitamins, minerals and other nutrients
- Australian and New Zealand lamb is the first listed ingredient
- Packed full of nutritious compounds, including omega-6 fatty acid (linoleic acid), zinc, and B vitamins to support healthy skin and coat.
- Also available in chicken formula
- Made in the USA
Maximum Fiber Content: 11.5%
Ingredients: Deboned Lamb, Whole Brown Rice, Rice Bran, Split Peas, Chicken Meal, Powdered Cellulose, Chickpeas, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Whole Grain Oatmeal, Lamb Meal…
PROS: Like most other NUTRO food products, their Weight Loss Dry Dog Food received nothing but praise from the majority of owners who tried it. Most dogs love it, and it helped many get over their digestive issues. Several owners also reported an improvement in coat health after making the switch.
CONS: Complaints about NUTRO Weight Loss Food were rare, and many of these were the result of shipping problems, random manufacturing issues and similar challenges that can occur with any dog food.
4. Fromm Gold Coast Grain Free Weight Management
About: Fromm Gold Coast Weight Management Recipe is packed with some of the best ingredients among any dog food available.
Made without grains of any kind, this food relies on things like peas, chickpeas, and potatoes to supply carbohydrate content.
Fromm’s formula uses whitefish and salmon meal as animal protein sources, along with a number of high-fiber ingredients, such as celery, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
- Contains L-carnitine, which helps support weight loss
- Fortified with probiotics to support proper digestive function
- Made with several omega-fatty-acid rich ingredients, including salmon, salmon oil and flaxseed
- All Fromm foods are manufactured in Wisconsin
Maximum Fiber Content: 7%
Ingredients: Whitefish, Salmon Meal, Lentils, Peas, Chickpeas, Potatoes, Pea Starch, Dried Tomato Pomace, Turkey Liver…
PROS: Fromm consistently produces high-quality foods, and their Weight Management formula is another win. Aside from possessing all of the basic characteristics you’d want in a premium dog food, Fromm’s recipe appears to be delicious to most dogs. Several owners reported an improvement in elimination habits after switching to this food, and a handful even noted improvements in coat condition.
CONS: Most Fromm products receive higher ratings than this, if for no other reason than their impressive ingredient lists. However, Fromm’s Weight Management formula has a relatively low fiber content relative to the other recipes in our review (although still more than the average dog food).
5. ROYAL CANIN Canine Gastrointestinal Fiber Response
About: Royal CANIN Gastrointestinal Fiber Response is specifically designed to address the colitis and other intestinal issues from which some dogs suffer. It contains the highest fiber content of any food in our review and it is fortified with supplemental omega fatty acids to help reduce intestinal inflammation.
Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Fiber
- Designed to help nourish your dog’s intestinal flora manage common gastrointestinal sensitivities
- Made with several different fiber sources
- Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, from fish oil nourish and soothe the GI tract
Maximum Fiber Content: 12.5%
Ingredients: Chicken by-product meal, brewers rice, chicken fat, powdered cellulose, rice hulls, corn, wheat, corn gluten meal…
PROS: The majority of owners who purchased Royal CANIN Gastrointestinal Fiber Response were happy with their purchase. Most reported that their dog liked the food’s taste, and many explained that this food helped firm up their dog’s stools.
CONS: The biggest single problem with Royal CANIN Gastrointestinal Fiber Response is its reliance on chicken by-product meal as the primary protein source. This is a pretty disappointing ingredient choice, given the food’s high price. Additionally, many of the carbohydrates used in the food are of negligible nutritional value. Additionally, although the food claims to help nourish intestinal flora, it does not contain any probiotic bacteria.
Most Blue Wilderness recipes are really good, and their Healthy Weight Chicken Recipe fails to disappoint. It’s packed with everything you’d want in a premium chicken dog food, including whole proteins, several sources of omega fatty acids, and probiotics.
Most owners loved the healthy changes in their dogs, while most dogs loved the taste. On top of all that, the price is quite affordable – there is really no reason to look any further for if you need a high-fiber dog food, which is why it’s our top pick.
Simply put, it is one of the finest high-fiber foods available, and deserving of serious consideration by all those who want the best for their pet. Nevertheless, the Fromm and Wellness CORE foods follow closely behind, and we’d also consider them top notch choices if they appeal to you more.
Alternative Ways to Add More Fiber to Your Dog’s Diet
Of course, you don’t have to switch to a high-fiber food in order to get your dog more indigestible plant material in his diet.
You can also add a few household food products to help jack up the fiber content of your dog’s regular food. Some of the best ingredients for doing so include:
Always incorporate these ingredients carefully and in moderation. Start by introducing very small quantities of these ingredients (for example, I only need to add about a teaspoon of pumpkin puree to my 90-pound pup’s dinner to firm up her poops).
Be sure to keep plenty of fresh, cool water available for your pup when increasing the fiber content of his food. And, as always, keep your vet in the loop about any dietary changes you make.
Has your pooch needed a high-fiber diet? What necessitated the dietary modification? Did the food provide the results you sought? Let us know all about your experiences in the comments below.