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Effects of Fiber on Digestibility and Transit Time in Dogs

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This study examines effects of variations in fiber content on nutrient assimilation, fecal output, and gastrointestinal transit time in the dog. Four normal Beagles were fed four diets in a randomized block design. The basal diet was a canned, balanced, meat-based dog food (Alpo Trio) to which added 3, 6, and 9% by weight of alpha cellulose (Solka Flok). Food intake and fecal outputs were recorded for 5-day periods. Samples of diets and fecal collections were analyzed for dry matter, nitrogen, fat, carbohydrate and ash; digestibilities were calculated. Transit times were measured by a radiographic marker technique. Fecal weight and water increased linearly; digestibility of dry matter decreased from 90 to 70% and ash from 43 to 32% with added fiber. Responses of protein, carbohydrate and fat were less pronounced but were regular; regressions of their digestibilities on added fiber were significant. Regression estimate of true digestibility for alpha-cellulose was 6%. Intestinal transit time decreased from a mean of 37.4 to 28.7 hours with added fiber. Decreased intestinal time would contribute to depression of fry matter digestibility. Increased fecal water output probably also reflected retention by fiber.
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... 11 Fiber deficiency and excess are not major clinical concerns for most healthy dogs or cats fed commercial pet foods. [11][12][13][14][15][16][17] Excess dietary fiber could reduce mineral absorption, dilute caloric concentration, and, in some instances, cause diarrhea. [12][13][14][15][16][17][18] However, this is not expected to be an issue with complete and balanced commercially available diets, and there are no published studies documenting unintended fiber-related nutritional deficiencies developing in dogs and cats fed balanced diets. ...
... [11][12][13][14][15][16][17] Excess dietary fiber could reduce mineral absorption, dilute caloric concentration, and, in some instances, cause diarrhea. [12][13][14][15][16][17][18] However, this is not expected to be an issue with complete and balanced commercially available diets, and there are no published studies documenting unintended fiber-related nutritional deficiencies developing in dogs and cats fed balanced diets. Fiber deficiency can cause gastrointestinal and systemic health concerns. ...
... In general, soluble and viscous fiber types delay gastric emptying and increase small intestinal transit time, whereas insoluble fibers often increase gastric emptying time and decrease transit time in both the small intestine and colon. [3][4][5]12,[28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39] Despite these trends, there are also exceptions to GIT transit time responses because they are not completely predictable based on fiber type. One notable exception is from comparative data from 2 studies in cats 40,41 that showed relatively shorter gastric emptying times when healthy cats were fed a diet high in insoluble fiber compared to cats fed a diet with a lower insoluble fiber concentration. ...
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Dietary fiber describes a diverse assortment of nondigestible carbohydrates that play a vital role in the health of animals and maintenance of gastrointestinal tract homeostasis. The main roles dietary fiber play in the gastrointestinal tract include physically altering the digesta, modulating appetite and satiety, regulating digestion, and acting as a microbial energy source through fermentation. These functions can have widespread systemic effects. Fiber is a vital component of nearly all commercial canine and feline diets. Key features of fiber types, such as fermentability, solubility, and viscosity, have been shown to have clinical implications as well as health benefits in dogs and cats. Practitioners should know how to evaluate a diet for fiber content and the current knowledge on fiber supplementation as it relates to common enteropathies including acute diarrhea, chronic diarrhea, constipation, and hairball management. Understanding the fundamentals of dietary fiber allows the practicing clinician to use fiber optimally as a management modality.
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