Is beet pulp a safe source of fiber for dogs in treats?
Most people tend to think of beet pulp as the pulp of common red beets that we humans eat. However, beet pulp added to animal feed consists of the residual by product obtained from sugar beets used for the extraction of sugar.
Beet pulp is the isolated fibrous material from sugar beets; an ingredient that many say has an undeservedly bad reputation. It is a very gentle, beneficial source of fiber and also has specific properties that make it suitable as a source of nutrition for the beneficial bacteria that reside in the intestinal tract. The sugar is almost completely removed, what is left in the pulp is only about 1/5 the amount of sugar that you would find in a serving of carrots of equal size. It is also colorless and does not turn a dog’s coat turn red, like urban legends claim.
Detractors say that beet pulp is an “unnatural” ingredient. Processing, however, isn’t natural either, and dog foods usually contain a carbohydrate content of at least 40 percent and moisture content of only around 10 percent.
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. Beet pulp is an excellent source of fiber that adds bulk to the dog’s stool. Beet pulp is also a good source of energy that promotes colon health. While there are many reported benefits to using beet pulp in animal foods, 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.
Moderation seems to be the key. This is why the amount of beet pulp added to commercial dog food is minimal.