What is Dried Chicory Root?
Cichorium intybus which is more commonly known as Chicory is a flowery plant that is closely related to dandelions. It is native to Europe and it usually has blue flowers, but it can sometimes have pink or white flowers. The large, tuberous root of the Chicory plant is commonly baked and ground to be used as a food additive for humans. It has also been used as an alternative to Coffee. Chicory has been used for centuries and its use can be traced back as far as Roman and ancient Egyptian times.
In more recent times, dog food manufacturers have picked up on the potential benefits of Chicory Root and have started to include it in dog food. However, the portion or quantity of Chicory Root used in dog food is quite minimal.
Advantages of Dried Chicory Root
Chicory Root is believed to be an effective probiotic. Probiotics such as Chicory Root help maintain healthy bacteria in the gut. This support of “healthy” bacteria in the gut is said to reduce the risk of certain diseases and improve the immune system.
Chicory Root has been found to contain up to 20% inulin. Most people will not be familiar with Inulin but it is similar to starch. Inulin is found in Other niche vegetables such as the Jerusalem Artichoke and Yakon. Inulin is used in some human foods as a sweetener and is around a tenth the strength of sucrose.
The likely benefit of this Inulin in dog food is as a source of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber absorbs water during digestion ensuring that stool is a consistent and moist texture. Soluble fiber helps your dog digest its food effectively and pass its stool regularly.
However, if your dog has a pre-existing digestive issue such as inflammatory or irritable bowel syndrome then adding probiotics and Inulin may make their condition worse. Therefore, it would be advised to err on the side of caution when selecting a dog food that contains ingredients such as Chicory Root.
Inulin is sometimes extracted from Chicory Root. In this case, it may be listed on the ingredient list as Chicory Extract or Chicory Root Extract.
It has been suggested by some that Chicory Root’s natural oils can help eliminate or prevent intestinal worms. While the evidence for this is fairly limited, it could be a notable benefit.
Dog Food Brands That Use Dried Chicory Root
A number of the popular and prominent dog food brands make use of Chicory Root. Examples include Acana, Orijen, Nature’s Logic, Fromm, Solid Gold, and Farmina. The fact that some of these big name brands regularly use Chicory Root is a good sign as it is unlikely they would if its benefits were unproven or it had negative side effects.
However, as we noted earlier, the quantity or proportion of Chicory Root used in most of these formulas is quite small which means it is not being used to provide significant nutrition. This points towards it being used for its probiotic properties or as a digestive aid.