You may have wondered what inulin is and why you may be seeing it included in your dog food. Well, in this article we will explain what inulin is, why manufactures add it to their dog food and benefits it can have for your pet.
What is Inulin?
Inulin is a type of soluble fiber found in many plants. A soluble fibre is one that dissolves in water to form a gel-like material and is often linked to having many health benefits for humans and animals.
It is also a fructan. A fructan is essentially a large molecule of smaller molecules which store carbohydrates. Like other fructans, inulin is a prebiotic, meaning that it feeds the good bacteria in the gut.
What Plants contain Inulin?
Inulin is present in more than 36,000 species of plants, including wheat, onion, bananas, garlic and asparagus. It is most commonly extracted from the plant chicory.
Chicory is a plant that grows wild across Europe and North America. Inulin can be extracted from the root of the chicory plant and therefore may be referred to as a chicory extract.
Why is Inulin included in Dog Food?
Inulin is added to dog food for two main reasons.
Firstly, it is sometimes 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 linked to dog health.
To rap, some 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 fiber source with around 25% less calories than sugar and about 10-12% less calories than fat.
Also, inulin can increase calcium absorption within the dog’s body. This increases the amount of healthy bacteria and can help 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 diarrhea in some cases. These symptoms are also similar to those which a dog may experience if their diet consisted of too much fibre.
Dog Foods that contains 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 clearly listed on the food composition list.
Conclusion: Inulin in Dog Food
Inulin is a natural substance found in over 36,000 variants of plants from across the world. Most commonly, inulin is extracted from the chicory plant and can therefore be referred to as a chicory extract.
There are many reasons why dog food manufactories may add inulin to their food. For example, as inulin is low in calories it is often used a sugar and fat substitute and to boost a foods prebiotic content.
The main benefits of inulin for a dog revolve around the improved gut health is can cause. As inulin is classed as prebiotic, the substance can improve digestion, immunity, gut functionality and overall health of the dog.