What is Dried Beet Pulp?
While for most, Dried Beet Pulp will be completely unfamiliar, if you’re a horse-lover & owner, then you’ve probably come across beet pulp in your horse’s feed.
However, for the rest of us who aren’t familiar with it from its use as horse feed, Beet Pulp is a leftover by-product of sugar beet that has undergone processing to extract its sugar content.
The processing of sugar beet involves extracting almost all of the available sugar from the plant, and it undergoes several rounds of this extraction.
We found the below process flow diagram from Feedimpex, which gives you an easy visual of the different stages, but their page also gives a detailed written description of the process.
We also found Feedipedia’s page on Beet Pulp to be another valuable resource.
Once this process is complete, there are waste and by-products remaining, including Beet Pulp which is described above as pressed pulp or pellets.
In the past, this Beet Pulp may have gone to waste, but the sugar beet processing companies investigated alternative uses for this by-product.
They found that it was an extremely dense source of dietary fiber and had the trait of not coming with notable amounts of other nutrition, such as high levels of sugar or concentrations of vitamins or minerals.
Based on this, Beet Pulp was experimented with and eventually used in products for cattle, horses, dogs, and several other animals.
While its there are several uses for Dried Beet Pulp among these animals, the vast majority of Dried Beet Pulp is used by the cattle industry (50%+).
This is because their herbivore guts can ferment the fiber into a source of energy which leads to it being mixed with their regular feed.
While this is also technically the case for dogs, their guts aren’t quite as effective at this task, so they are unlikely to extract as much energy as cattle or horses would, which means it’s present for another reason.
Why is Dried Beet Pulp in Dog Food?
If you find yourself asking why Dried Beet Pulp is found in dog food recipes, perhaps the one you are feeding your dog, you aren’t alone.
Many pet owners are scared or fearful of by-products, such as Beet Pulp, and some go as far as avoiding foods that contain them.
However, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association uses Beet Pulp in their piece, dispelling the myth that by-products are inferior.
The primary purpose that Dried Beet Pulp serves in dog food recipes is a supplementary source of dietary fiber.
Fiber, especially soluble fiber, can be critical to many dogs to ensure they keep regular digestion and stools.
Fiber acts as an indigestible component of food and assists the other components to swiftly and effectively pass through the digestive system to be absorbed.
However, not all fiber is equal, and some see Dried Beet Pulp as advantageous as it contains moderately fermentable fiber.
According to IAMS pet food, moderately fermentable fiber absorbs excess water and removes excess waste from the digestive tract &; when fermented, fiber can also act as a source of energy for pets.
For the above reasons, dog food manufacturers aim to include consistent levels of fiber within their recipes. However, many of the ingredients that are commonly used in dog food do not contain a plentiful supply of fiber.
This is especially true for high-protein or high-meat content dog food recipes that do not contain a large quantity of plant-based material.
For these recipes, dog food manufacturers are forced to look at ways to boost the levels of fiber present, and Dried Beet Pulp is one of the most popular.
A relatively small portion of Dried Beet Pulp can boost the overall fiber levels to sufficient levels without drastically changing the formulation of the recipe.
Can Dogs React Adversely To Dried Beet Pulp?
While not common, some dogs may have an adverse reaction to the presence of Dried Beet Pulp in their dog food recipe.
This is particularly true for dogs who have extremely sensitive digestive systems or a track record of digestive symptoms.
The most common to be on the lookout for include Diarrhea and Gas, but there can be others for select dogs.
While it can be hard to prove that Dried Beet Pulp is the suspect when these symptoms occur, you may want to temporarily change your dog’s food to see if the issues disappear.
Regardless if your dog is experiencing any serious symptoms or reactions, we always recommend you visit your local veterinarian for expert advice and guidance.
Dried Beet Pulp Alternatives In Dog Food
While Dried Beet Pulp is one of the most popular supplementary sources of fiber in dog food recipes, it is not alone, and there are several other alternatives.
Some dogs have a particularly poor reaction to the presence of Dried Beet Pulp which forces dog owners to look for alternatives.
The other most common source of soluble fiber in dog food recipes is Tomato Pomace which is extremely similar in its source and traits.
Tomato Pomace is also a by-product, but this time from the Tomato processing industry that produces products such as Ketchup and other processed Tomato products.
It also contains very little other nutrition outside of its fiber content, which is advantageous. However, some are concerned about the levels of pesticides that can be found in Tomato Pomace.
You can read more about Tomato Pomace in our article Tomato Pomace as a Pet Food Ingredient?.
Pea Fiber and Canola Meal are very similar to Dried Beet Pulp and Tomato Pomace and are by-products of other production processes.
However, Miscanthus Grass is unique in that it is sometimes purpose-grown for its use as an ingredient, and some see it as more environmentally friendly.
You can learn more about Miscanthus Grass in our article Miscanthus Grass In Pet Food.
Lastly, some dog food brands and recipes do not need supplementary fiber ingredients such as Dried Beet Pulp as they have naturally high fiber levels.
This usually coincides with the use of whole grains, like Oatmeal or Brown Rice, or the inclusion of high-fiber vegetable ingredients like Pumpkin.
Dog Food Brands That Use Dried Beet Pulp
As we mentioned earlier, Dried Beet Pulp is one of the most popular fiber-providing ingredients to be found in dog food, along with others like Tomato Pomace.
While carrying out research on ingredients in dry dog food, we found that of the 100 most popular dry dog food recipes on Chewy.com, 46 of these contained Beet Pulp, which is almost a majority.
Due to its huge popularity, there are a large number of well-known dog food brands that utilize the ingredient in their recipes.
Some of the best examples that our research could find include Purina Pro Plan, Hill’s Science Diet, Royal Canin, American Journey, Diamond, Iams, Rachael Ray Nutrish, Nutro, Farmina, Crave, Health Extension, and Purina Beyond.
As you can see, this range of brands includes lower-cost brands, premium brands, and industry leaders in research and development.
You can see a prime example of the use of Dried Beet Pulp in a dry dog food recipe in the below ingredient list of Hill’s Science Diet’s Adult Chicken & Barley recipe.
As you can see above, Dried Beet Pulp is a relatively minor ingredient in this recipe and is considerably far down the ingredient list alongside other minor ingredients like Brewers Rice and Flaxseed.
For this recipe, it is likely that Dried Beet Pulp provides a minor portion of dietary fiber, which is most likely less than 1% of the total recipe.
However, some other brands may use many large portions of Dried Beet Pulp in their recipes, and it could feature as high as 4th or 5th on the ingredient list.
Dried Beet Pulp – Final Thoughts
While there may be more natural sources of fiber available, Dried Beet Pulp can be a beneficial addition to a dog food recipe, especially for those dogs who need consistent fiber intake.
Ingredients like Dried Beet Pulp are a reality of the ultra-competitive dog food market, where brands fight to keep their costs low.
Due to the huge number of dog food brands that use Dried Beet Pulp, it will be difficult for a dog owner to avoid it entirely, at least without selecting an alternative like Tomato Pomace instead.
However, we would caution dog owners to try to gauge quite how much Dried Beet Pulp is present in a recipe and avoid those that use excessive portions.