Dog treats with fur – what is the nutritional value?
Fur on treats can ‘freak’ a few people out. I could tell you that it’s just as natural as it gets – but surely there has to be more to it than that. A valid reason to buy a treat with some fur on, or purposely fur all over it?
Yes, its definitely easier for driers NOT to remove all skin and fur from a meat-based treats. And you might even think that the fur is just added weight that isn’t serving you or your dog a useful purpose. But it gets a little more complex than that. AND actually, positive to have some or a lot of fur on treats.
For instance, there are some treats like Kangaroo EARS, and cow’s ears that are very difficult to remove hair from, and the vast majority of people that buy those kinds of treats, for whatever reason, prefer the whole original form treat in all its glory.
How much fur is good on a dog treat?
Like most things, it’s about balance and moderation. If you could give your dog the same amount of fur that they would get off prey (or a wolf gets off prey), along with the meat, bones, tendon, offal etc. THEN that would be the right amount. That would suit their gut biome perfectly.
Clearly most HUMAN raw animal meat and bones feeders (to their dogs) don’t all accomplish this either. That is either because its hard to get full carcasses. Also obviously many dogs are not as big and robust as their wolf ancestors, so chewing it all down can be difficult.
Rest assured, if you feed your dog a balanced diet, with plenty of MEAT in it too, then the occasional treat with fur is going to be more of a positive than a negative. They add ZERO calories and provide several important functions as mentioned below.
Here is the big skinny on to fur, or not to fur with dog treats.
On the journey through your dog’s intestinal tract.
1 Dog Treats with fur are a natural teeth and gum cleaner
If you regularly brush your dog’s teeth, keep up the good work. But essentially the fur is doing the same as the bristles on a toothbrush. They can work towards flossing between teeth, massaging the gums and even removing some plaque from the surface of the teeth.
If your dog eats a commercial dog food diet, often small grains of dry food, or mush in wet food can stick to the teeth. The fur holds its structure and is thin, so can really help with sweeping away the food into your dog’s stomach!
2 inside the stomach
Fur from NATURAL dog treats is an INSOLUBLE fibre, so it won’t add to or detract from the acid digesting process going on. In the stomach it may help any food that has become stuck move on down to the upper intestine, but that’s it, the real magic happens in the intestines.
In the dog’s stomach, hydrochloric acid and pepsinogen are released in response to the presence of protein in the stomach (the meat that accompanies the fur), but this is just the start of the food protein break down.
3 the Value of Keeping the dog intestine clear of small negative parasitic growths
Build-up of food in this part of the digestive tract can cause a slower digestion. While stomach acid prevents growth of yeast, negative bacterial and fungal infections (ie those pathogens that are harmful to your dog), in the intestine often like a much higher pH value (ie a relatively low acid value compared to the ideal amount for digesting food inside your dog).
Dog’s intestines are SHORT and meant to expel waste quickly. Protein being broken down into amino acids has started in the stomach under very low pH conditions, but this chemical process continues in the intestine.
You don’t want ANY physical obstructions from food caught up in the bends of the intestine allowing the wrong kind of organism growth.
4 Removing larger parasites and organisms
Parasitic organisms much larger than bacteria and fungi can easily lodge and breed in the intestine, like worms and their eggs.
The fur from animals and animal dog treats can also brush these larger parasites out.
5 Optimum nutrient absorption
Once the small and larger parasitic organisms have been swept through, the good bacteria your dog’s body needs can go to work doing its MANY important tasks.
We recently wrote a whole article on the vital importance of the dog’s intestinal biome (only second to the importance of their brain for dog health).
When a dog’s intestine is clear of parasites, and proper food is used (with the right spectrum of fibre), the positive bacteria you need for your dog to be healthy can thrive. If your dog doesn’t have a high enough population of good bacteria (compared to bad bacteria), then the nutrients that should be feeding your dog, instead feed and grow the bad bacteria.
6 Solid poos and expressed anal glands
This is the end of the journey for the dog’s intestinal tract.
And in fact one of the main selling points that most commercial dog food advertise. They achieve it by feeding your dog a lot of cheap grain (something that wouldn’t happen in the wild). Fur can instead play this vital role, thus leaving you more Energy (KJ) headroom to feed your dog more bio available meat protein.
As mentioned before, fur is non digestible fibre. It is part of the rich tapestry that your dog benefits from to keep their insides healthy. Because fur and hair doesn’t break down and is the right size and length to brush through the many twists of the intestinal tract without getting stuck, it also assists the dog’s food waste and toxins and body waste products collecting together in a solid stool.
A solid stool puts pressure back onto the intestinal wall, and the anal glands near the anus, which is a natural method of expressing the liquid from within the glands and keeps a dog from having a painful blocked condition.
Note dog treat bones, dog treats cartilage and tendons all partially / mostly dissolve on their journey through the dog’s intestine. These can help in forming solid stools too. But beef and roo tendons also include COLLAGEN – type 2 – the precise chemical that assist joint health. Their primary function is for nutrition, not just cleaning the intestine.
If you want to understand more about the differences in fibre, and the best fiber for your dog, here it is – Fibre can either be totally fermentable (break down completely), partially soluble like the treats above, or completely insoluble or non-fermentable (like fur).
In this article we gained knowledge from a dog nutrition reference book that says: the “best fibre sources for dogs and cats are those that are moderately fermentable and provide adequate levels of short chain fatty acids (SCFA’s) for intestinal mucosa.” The recommended sources of moderate fermentability dietary fibre are fibres such as: Beet pulp; rice bran; gum arabic.”
These are said to be the best sources of fibre for inclusion in commercial dog foods.
There is a “fibre Fermentation Index “ which for the main fibres used in commercial dog food can tell you quantitively how well that fibre ferments or breaks down. Providing the RIGHT amount of fermentation for good bacteria to dine on and grow inside your dogs intestine.
“Moderately fermentable fibre assists in creating increased colon weights, mucosal surface area and mucosal hypertrophy when compared to dogs fed a diet containing non-fermentable fibre sources. “
If your dog has fibre that is HIGHLY fermentable (cheaper dog food or poor design), it will create too much food that overfeeds the bacteria (good and bad) – and can lead to a very gaseous dog and being very uncomfortable.
Too much highly digestible fibre can lead to Poor absorption of minerals. And Diarrhea.
Increasing fermentable fibre is good to a point, but too much and it inversely affects crude protein digestibility (they don’t use the amino acids)
Too low on the fermentable fibre scale, and the bacteria starve and a dog can have chronic diarrhoea. As you can see, it’s a fine balancing act.
Fur from treats is completely non-fermentable (which is good), as it doesn’t count in the kind of fibre that helps break down food or feed the bacteria that helps extract nutrients, BUT it just keeps the tract nice and clean, healthy with solid stools.
As you can see, natural fur on animal based dog treats has an important place in many dog’s diets.
As long as your dog can chew down the treat it can provide a great benefit. And that is why kangaroo ears are so good as a healthy dog treat. Because they are small enough for most dogs to be able to eat.