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Is Wheat Bran for Dogs Good for Them?

 
By Matthew Nesbitt, Journalist specialized in animal research. March 3, 2020
Is Wheat Bran for Dogs Good for Them?

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It is essential our dog follows an adequate diet. This means providing food which apportions the right amount of nutrients to ensure they not only survive, but thrive. While there are many studies which show the necessary nutrients dogs should have in their diet, there are many blogs, websites and other sources which have a lot of misinformation. Knowing what is best for our dog in terms of what they eat leads us to many questions, including is wheat bran for dogs good for them?

AnimalWised answers this question by looking at the nutritional needs of dogs and seeing if wheat bran fulfills these needs. To understand, we need to look at We also look at any possible benefits or problems which may arise from dogs eating wheat bran.

You may also be interested in: Is Celery Good for Dogs?

A dog's diet and nutritional requirements

Dogs are carnivores, meaning they require protein from animal meat to survive. However, there is more than one type of carnivore. Obligate carnivores are animals which are only able to digest meat in the form of animal protein. They may be able to eat small amounts of plant matter, but they will not be able to break them down in large amounts and some can cause serious digestive problems.

There are certain signs which indicate an animal is a carnivore, their teeth being one of them. Dogs have large canine teeth which are used to rip meat to ingest it. Carnivores in the wild will either hunt for their food or scavenge for it in their environment. Domestic dogs are a type of canid. Their wild cousins, including wolves, coyotes and foxes, all consume meat in the wild.

Since dogs have gone through a long period of domestication, they have been able to assimilate other nutrients into their diet. Some people mean this results in them being classified as omnivores. Specifically, they have been able to adapt to a starch-rich diet[1]. However, considering them an omnivore is a little too simplistic.

Dogs may be considered faculative carnivores. While they can get nutrients from non-meat sources, they also need certain essentials such as vitamin D and taurine which cannot be achieved through a non-meat diet (or the use of synthetic additives).

Properties of wheat bran

Before we consider the possible benefits wheat bran may be able to give to dogs, we should look into it's nutritional makeup. Bran is the outer layer of a cereal grain, so there are different types other than wheat bran. These include oat bran, rice bran, etc. It is not to be mistaken for the very hard outer layer known as the chaff which is indigestible by humans.

Its hardness can make bran a little more difficult to tolerate than the inner part of the grain, most of latter being composed of endosperm. Endosperm is used in making bread flour and other ingredients, but it is not as nutritional as bran. In fact, wheat bran has ten times as much fiber as endosperm, eight times as much iron and less carbohydrates.

Wheat bran is high in essential fatty acids and non-soluble fiber. Since it is non-soluble, the fiber does not dissolve in water. It is not considered a nutrient, since it is not absorbed into the blood stream. Rather, the fiber acts as an aid to intestinal transit. In humans, this helps regulate digestion and maintain overall health. The question we want answered is whether wheat bran is good for dogs?

Dietary fiber is indeed healthy for a dog. Since their diet has changed over the years thanks to human intervention, grains have become digestible by dogs and even beneficial for them in terms of fiber. They are also beneficial as the carbohydrate content helps intestinal health, provides energy and can even protect the dog from diseases such as diabetes and cancer[2].

However, since many trends in canine nutrition mimic similar ones in human dietary practices, there are many commercial dog food products which are purporting to be better for your dog as they are ‘grain free’. Grains are often used to make dog food products cheaper, but this does not mean they are necessarily bad for your dog's health.

Wheat bran is a great food for your dog and should be included in their diet. If the dog food contains wheat bran, it will likely be described as a ‘whole grain’ product. Non-whole grain products have similar levels of carbohydrate, but much less fiber. This is why it is better for us to buy whole grain dog food, but it is not necessary to buy grain-free.

Is Wheat Bran for Dogs Good for Them? - Properties of wheat bran

Benefits of wheat bran for dogs

As we reference above, wheat bran is an excellent protector of the dog's digestive system. More specifically, the benefits it can provide to your dog's overall health and well-being include:

  • Prevents diarrhea: one of the most common symptoms of digestive failure is diarrhea. While this is also a symptom of a range of diseases which may not be associated with diet, roughage in the form of dietary fiber provided by wheat bran may be the solution. Regardless, if diarrhea persists for more than 24 hours, a veterinarian should be consulted.
  • Prevents constipation: more fiber can also prevent compaction of the bowels which results in constipation. By improving the intestinal transit, it can shift digested food and provide relief.
  • Improving gut bacteria: while we are not sure exactly how an individual's gut flora affects their health, we know that it does. We do know that fiber can help this bacteria to stay at a healthy level which is one reason it is an important part of the canine diet.
  • Decreasing likelihood of diabetes: since wheat bran allows for necessary carbohydrates to metabolize more slowly, it can help reduce the chances of a dog developing diabetes.
  • Preventing gastrointestinal disease: as fiber facilitates the expulsion of toxins accumulated in the digestive system, many gastrointestinal diseases can be avoided.

As you can see, dietary fiber is an important part of a dog's diet and wheat bran provides it in abundance. It does so without having to fill the dog up with too many carbohydrates. This is important as the dog needs to eat other nutrients which may not be absorbed properly if their nutrition is imbalanced. This could also lead to overeating and obesity.

Is wheat bran the best source of dietary fiber?

There are other types of bran which are available. They have varying amounts of fiber which can aid intestinal transit. Alternatives have become very popular thanks to a keen interest in different dietary habits and homemade dog food. However, even in human studies, knowing what is best to include in a diet can be difficult.

Many people have suggested that fruit and vegetables may be helpful to our dog. Some even suggest dogs can be fed a vegetarian or vegan diet. Fruit and vegetables can contain fiber and other nutrients beneficial to our dog's health. However, they do not contain all the necessary ingredients for a dog's well-being. A fruit-and-vegetable-only diet will at least require supplements of taurine and vitamin D, but this can be very difficult and they will be better off eating a quality dog food.

However, alternatives to wheat bran have the potential to provide the dietary fiber dogs need. For example, rice bran has a high level of dietary fibers and fruit fiber might work well in wet food[3]. However, further research needs to be carried out to provide conclusive results.

Is Wheat Bran for Dogs Good for Them? - Is wheat bran the best source of dietary fiber?

How to give wheat bran to dogs

Now that you know wheat bran is good for dogs and what benefits it can provide, we need to know how to include it in their diet. The first thing we need to know is that each dog is an individual. Before changing their diet at all, we need to consult a veterinarian. They will be able to examine the dog and suggest which elements should be included in their diet in various amounts. After this time, we will need to closely monitor their health to ensure the diet is working, especially their stools.

There are two main ways we can give wheat bran to our dog. You can purchase a dog food which has a high wheat bran content. They are usually described as being ‘whole grain’. Alternatively, you can purchase wheat bran from a dietary specialist. This usually comes in the form of a powder. You can mix this into the dog's normal food. If giving them wet food, you should be able to mix it in directly. If your dog only has dry food, you may need to add a little water to make it more palatable.

If you want to read similar articles to Is Wheat Bran for Dogs Good for Them?, we recommend you visit our Homemade diets category.

References

1. Axelsson, E., Ratnakumar, A. J., & Linblad-Toh, K. (2013). The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet. Nature, 495, 360-364.
https://www.nature.com/articles/nature11837

2. Rankovic, A., Adolphe, J. L., & Verbrugghe, A. (2019). Role of carbohydrates in the health of dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 255(5), 546-554.
https://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/abs/10.2460/javma.255.5.546?journalCode=javma

3. de Godoy, M. R. C., Kerr, K. R., Fahey, Jr., G. C. (2013). Alternative Dietary Fiber Sources in Companion Animal Nutrition. Nutrients, 5(8), 3099-3117.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3775244/

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