Can I Give My Dog Weetabix?
Can dogs eat Weetabix?
There are many benefits of increasing fibre in your dog's diet. Most of them are gastrointestinal and relate to stomach health, density of the dog's stools and their ability to assist the anal glands emptying when the dog has a toilet break! Perhaps your pet regularly has diarrhoea and you have taken veterinary advice to bulk up it's poop.
Weetabix is not the way to achieve this and is not a suitable fibre source for your dog. It is made primarily from wheat with added sugar and salt for the human palate. Many more sources of natural fibre are available for your dog.
What’s in Weetabix cereals
Wheat is a member of the Triticum genus and it is a cereal grain. It is ground to form flour and forms the basis of most breads and many cakes and biscuits. It is also prevalent in cheap dog foods. It is a type of grass and we harvest the fruit which is the "head of wheat" with edible seeds.
There are 800 million tonnes of wheat produced each year, beating rice and corn or maize into the second and third positions. It is a higher source of protein than corn and rice but can and often does prove to be bad for dogs, causing an allergic reaction when overfed.
Symptoms caused by wheat allergies
- Internal inflammation
- Itching of skin
- Itching and broken skin around ears
- Internal ear infections and reddening
- Stomach upset
- Lack of appetite
Just like humans, refined sugar has little health benefit. Although it is metabolised for energy as a simple carbohydrate it has no value in our diet. It does however when overconsumed over a period of time have responsibility for weight gain, dental issues and diabetes.
If left unchecked, heart disease, respiratory issues, mental fog and joint issues caused by inflammation await some individuals. It is no different for our dogs.
The sugar content alone means you should not feed your dog Weetabix.
Just like humans, dogs require some salt or Sodium Chloride in their diets. Alongside Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium it forms in dilution the basis of water uptake and absorption. Too much however is extremely dangerous and apart from causing dehydration it can lead to:
- Vomiting and stomach upset
- Excessive thirst and hypernatremia
- Lack of temperature control
So can dogs eat Weetabix? Its clearly not a preferred breakfast for dogs. Breakfast cereal is probably best left to dog owners, no chocolate chip or extra sugar though!
It can however be necessary to increase your dog's fibre intake, but we should look for other natural fibre sources to boost your pooch's intestinal health and wellbeing.
Why your dog may need extra fibre
There is strong evidence that eating plenty of fibre, also called roughage, can help to protect against bowel disorders including cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular ill health. Higher fibre diets also help both humans and dogs to feel more satiated and full and has a beneficial scouring effect as it passes though the full intestinal system and bowels.
- Helps with constipation by loosening stools.
- Feel more satiated
- Helps with dogs prone to diarrhoea
- Helps to empty anal glands
- Sours intestinal passage
What is fibre?
Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that the body is not able to digest. Most long chain carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugar molecules and metabolised by the dog. Fibre cannot be broken down into sugar molecules, and instead it passes through the body undigested.
- Soluble fibre, which is soluble and dissolves in water, can help lower glucose levels as well as help lower blood cholesterol.
- Insoluble fibre, which does not dissolve in water, provides a scouring effect as it moves through the digestive system helping to cleanse the dog's inners and promote regular toileting and prevent constipation.
Why do dogs need fibre?
Fibre helps regulate the dog's use of sugars, helping to keep hunger and blood sugar in check.
A correct amount of fibre in your dog's diet helps to keep it's digestive health in tip top condition. It aids the intestine's environment called the microbiome, keeping the correct microorganisms healthy and the PH or acidity level conducive with great health.
Insulin and blood sugar levels are moderated and the metabolism and hormonal levels are maintained. Toileting is regular and anal glands are clear.
Good sources of fibre for dogs
Other than changing your dog’s diet to having better quality food with better ingredients, you can also try the following:
- Speciality high fibre dog food
- Sugar beet
- Legumes and greens
- Brown rice
- Ground flaxseed
- High fibre veterinary products
- Whole grain products
How much fibre should a dog have?
The amount needed can vary from breed to breed. It is also dependant on the age and size of the dog. As a guideline, between 2% and 4% of the dog's diet should be healthy fibre. Start at the low threshold and monitor your dog and particularly its toilet habits.
Speak to your veterinarian about your breed and particular pet when you next visit, they not only have the benefit of professional training but they see many pets and can advise from a wealth of experience.
What happens if a dog has too much fibre?
Like everything in life, it is the same in doggy life! Just because a little is good, does not mean more is better, so do not overdo it.
Fibre has the ability to bind to nutrients and stop or limit their absorption in the dog's system. An over abundance over time can cause lethargy, weight loss and wind, so monitor the intake and be very cautious with pure fibre additives or products. So as with all doggy nutritional advice, start slowly and build it up slowly. As ever also always give your dog access to a plentiful supply of fresh water and monitor its intake.
What happens if dogs don’t get enough fibre?
This can be a little difficult to diagnose as constipation lies at the opposite end of the spectrum to diarrhoea. Both however can indicate a lack of fibre in the diet. Anal glands failing to empty can also indicate the fibre deficiency and lack of volume in the dog's stool.
Fibre to empty anal glands
Your dog has two anal sacs or glands that are located on the lower sides of his anus at approximately 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock as you view the dog's rear. They contain an excretion that passes normally and naturally when it has a bowel movement. The scent identifies it to other dogs when excreted. If the glands are not expressed during bowel movements or become blocked or inflamed you will see some or all of the following:
Full anal gland symptoms:
- Continually reaching round to its anus
- Biting and itching the bottom
- Discomfort when toileting
- Lumps, swelling or reddening of the skin around the anus
- Dragging its anus along the floor
- Excessive cleaning and licking of the anus
- Inability to sit
If the condition gets to these stages a visit to the Vet is necessary who will assess whether the glands need to be manually emptied or expressed. This will be a great time to speak to them about dietary needs.
Is Weetabix for dogs?
No it is not. It is a tasty and nutritious breakfast cereal for humans and is at the more healthy end of the spectrum for human breakfast products. This does not however make breakfast cereals good dog foods, to your dog they may be tasty but many other human foods can be toxic to dogs.
Dogs are more often than not a fraction of the size of their human owners and as such their dietary balance needs greater scrutiny. Always read all labels and bear in mind volume and portion sizes for your pet.