Is beet pulp a safe source of fiber for cats in treats?
Beet pulp has long been a popular feed additive for horses and other livestock but more recently, has also been added to many dog and cat foods. Used as a fiber source, beet pulp is often found in many quality foods, and when fed correctly, is an ingredient that can be beneficial to almost all pets.
WHAT IT IS:
Beet pulp is different from the commonly seen beets that grow in gardens. Beet pulp is the by-product of the extraction of raw sugar from commercially grown sugar beets. After the sugar has been extracted, the remaining pulp contains very little sugar, but is valuable as a fiber and energy source.
• Readily available
• It’s an insoluble, moderately fermentable fiber—unlike many other common fiber sources such as peanut, rice, or soy hulls. This means the fiber from beet pulp has the benefits of adding bulk and moisture to animal stools while providing an energy source that can improve the health of the colon. Slow to moderately fermentable fiber sources, like beet pulp, are often recommended as one of the best sources of fiber for cats and dogs.
• Fewer calories, improved colon health. Unlike horses, who digest about 40 percent though their intestines, little digestion occurs in the colon or large intestine in cats and dogs. What that means is they would receive few calories from the beet pulp, while still receiving the beneficial bacteria with a small amount of volatile fatty acids.
There are many reported benefits to using beet pulp in animal foods, but there is also some controversy concerning its use. There has been some research pointing to problems such as stomach swelling and lack of palatability. However, the studies refer to the feeding of beet pulp to horses so we can assume it’s related to the large quantities that were fed. Cats and dogs eat much less.