What is Inulin and why is it in dog food?

You may have wondered what inulin is and why you may be seeing it included in your dog food. This article will explain what inulin is, why manufacturers add it to their dog food and its benefits for your pet.

What is Inulin?

Inulin is a type of soluble fibre found in many plants. Soluble fibre dissolves in water to form a gel-like material and has many health benefits for humans and animals.

It is also a fructan, and a fructan is essentially a large molecule of smaller molecules that store carbohydrates. Like other fructans, inulin is prebiotic, meaning that it feeds the good bacteria in the gut.

What plants contain Inulin?

Inulin is present in more than 36,000 plants, including wheat, onion, bananas, garlic and asparagus and is commonly extracted from the plant chicory.

Chicory grows wild across Europe and North America. Inulin is extracted from the root of the chicory plant and is sometimes referred to as chicory extract.

Why is Inulin included in Dog Food?

Inulin is added to dog food for two main reasons. 

Firstly, it can be added to increase the dog food’s sweetness and improve the taste. It is a relatively low calorie and natural alternative to other fats or sugars.

Secondly, inulin can also be used as a prebiotic to aid digestion. For humans, research has linked inulin to several health benefits, such as improving digestive health, helping control diabetes, and aiding weight loss. Similar benefits can also be related to your dog health.

To recap, manufactures tend to add inulin into their food in order too:

  • Replace fat in the food
  • A sugar substitute
  • Alter the texture of the food
  • Boost the prebiotic content of foods

Benefits of Inulin in Dog Food

There are many health benefits of having inulin contained in dog food. For example, it is a low-calorie carbohydrate and fibre source with around 25% fewer calories than sugar and about 10-12% fewer calories than fat. 

Also, inulin can increase calcium absorption within the dog’s body. 

Inulin is classed as prebiotic as it increases the healthy bacteria, can improve digestion, immunity, gut functionality and overall health of the dog

Risks of Inulin in Dog Food

Too much inulin in a dog’s diet may cause bloating, excessive gas and diarrhoea in some cases. These symptoms are also similar to those if their diet consisted of too much fibre.

Dog Foods that contain Inulin

If a dog food contains inulin, it should be listed on the declaration or ingredients list of the food.

As you can see from the example below (declaration taken from Gockel’s Duett – Anifit), inulin is listed on the food composition list.

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