The world top canine athletes, long-distance sled dogs, suffer from gastritis and gastric ulcers at higher rates than other dogs, and proper pet food formulation can help. Sled dogs on shorter runs and off-leash explosive detection dogs also suffer from these ailments, according to scientists writing in Frontiers of Veterinary Science. For these canine athletes and heroes, a by-product of the sugar industry may help. Veterinarians and scientists have identified sugar beet pulp as an effective fiber source in dog food formulations to help hardworking hounds avoid gastric distress.
“Gastric ulcers have been documented in Iditarod huskies for a long time and were looked at as a direct or indirect causative reason for dog deaths in the race,” Tim Hunt, DVM, founder of Dr. Tim’s Premium All-Natural Pet Food, told Petfood Industry.
“As to formulating the food, I did use that problem as a reason for selecting a moderately fermentable fiber such as beet pulp as it is not nearly as abrasive if at all, as some other fibers out there such as tomato pomace, etc.,” he said.
“How one can avoid the ulcers entirely has been alleviated by the use of famitodine or omeprazole daily during the race and during periods of heavy training,” said Hunt.
Beet pulp in dog and cat food formulations
Outside the extreme world of long-distance sled dog races and bomb detection, beet pulp can be used in dog and cat food formulations to promote bowel regularity, stool consistency and overall gastrointestinal health, wrote Kansas State University professor Greg Alrich, PhD, in his monthly Petfood Industry column. What’s more, beet pulp doesn’t reduce palatability as much as other fibers.
However, consumers have formed erroneous opinions about beet pulp, Aldrich wrote. Consumers mistakenly believe that beet pulp can cause red stains from pet’s urine on the carpet, because consumers mistake the sugar beets for the common red beet. If they do realize that beet pulp comes from sugar beets, consumers may believe that the pulp still contains unwanted sugar, which it does not.