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.
Adam A Moreno et al. J “Dietary fiber aids in the management of canine and feline gastrointestinal disease.” Am Vet Med Assoc. 2022 Oct 26;1-13. doi: 10.2460/javma.22.08.0351.