Dietary fibre can appear in a variety of ways on your plate - lentils, broccoli, oatmeal, peas.
But when it comes to your companion animal’s food bowl, there are usually only handful: beet pulp, grain hulls, guar gum, brans, peanut shells, and powdered cellulose.
That’s generally it for commercial foods. The fibres are isolated from foods, but are not foods themselves.
But for owners looking for more dietary fibre, from natural sources, there are options outside of ingredients like cellulose. One, for instance, might even be sitting on your front step every October: pumpkins.
But those large orange bulbs are not always just Halloween decorations or used for coffee shop gimmicks (for the record, pumpkin spice doesn’t count as a fibre). Pumpkin is a great dietary fibre that’s good for both cats and dogs.
Where do these fibres come from?
Some of the fibres that appear in pet food have surprising origins.
Cellulose is an insoluble fibre, meaning it moves through an animal’s digestive system without breaking down, and pushes out any gunk that may be stuck in the gastrointestinal tract for too long. Cellulose is sort of a blunt tool to end constipation.
It can also act as a bulking agent, sometimes used to make a dog or cat feel full or satiated so he or she stops eating - diet foods, in other words.
But what is this ever-present ingredient, actually? Small bits of wood - the pulp of a pine tree, to be precise. It is also used to produce paperboard and paper, but grinded into particle size for pet foods.
The FDA has deemed cellulose safe for human consumption, but caps its inclusion in foods at 3.5%. There is no cap on how much of it can appear in your pet’s food.
In praise of the pumpkin
Pumpkin is a different fibre altogether. It is a soluble fibre, meaning it doesn’t plunge the digestive system of whatever is in there, but softens it so it can flow out naturally. Pumpkin helps make pets more regular.
It is also a whole food source of fibre. Nothing is extracted or altered to get the fibre out of the pumpkin - it’s just pumpkin.
And by saying “just” pumpkin, that’s not to minimize what it can do. Pumpkin contains a range of other great nutrients, like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Iron, Phosphorus, Magnesium, and Folate. These help everything from vision to immunity to, ahem, digestive health.
Pumpkins are amazing foods. The University of Illinois Extension even has a whole website dedicated to the research and history of the pumpkin (available in Spanish too!).
And that’s only part of why Because Animals’ Superfood Supplement contains organic pumpkin powder. It is one amazing vegetable, and great source of dietary fibre.