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 in some areas as an alternative to Coffee. Chicory has been widely used by humans for centuries, and its use can be traced back as far as Roman and ancient Egyptian times.
Dried Chicory Root In Dog Food?
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 recipes.
While none of these ingredients have conclusive or major benefits for dogs, premium brands usually add several of them for their potential benefits and to help market their products as superior or unique.
However, as many of you will know from looking at the ingredient list of your dog’s food, the portion or quantity of Chicory Root used in dog food is quite minimal, often putting it far down the ingredient list.
Benefits of Dried Chicory Root For Dogs
One of the most important reasons that Chicory Root is included in dog food is that it is believed to be an effective probiotic.
Probiotics such as Chicory Root can have several benefits, such as helping to 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 dog’s immune system.
Another important trait is that 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 not found in most vegetables you would eat but can be found in other niche vegetables such as the Jerusalem Artichoke and Yakon. While different from its purpose in dog food, Inulin is used in some human foods as a sweetener and is around a tenth the strength of sucrose.
Soluble fiber is important as it absorbs water during digestion, ensuring that stool is a consistent and moist texture.
Thanks to this trait, Soluble fiber helps your dog digest its food effectively and consistently as well as pass its stool regularly, which is an issue for many.
Lastly, it has been suggested by some that Chicory Root’s natural oils can help eliminate or prevent intestinal worms. While the evidence for this trait is fairly limited, it could be a notable benefit if it is an issue your dog experiences regularly.
Risks of Dried Chicory Root For Dogs?
We don’t believe Dried Chicory Root is a risk to the vast majority of dogs, and most dog owners should not make their choice of dog food based on its presence and instead focus on selecting food with a high proportion of meat content.
However, we will note that 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.
Something you may want to be careful of is that Inulin is sometimes extracted from the Chicory Root. In this case, it may be listed on the ingredient list as Chicory Extract or Chicory Root Extract, but for simplicity, you can treat it the same.
Dog Food Brands That Use Dried Chicory Root
While Dried Chicory Root may not be well understood by most dog owners, it is used widely throughout the industry, and a number of the popular and prominent dog food brands include it in their recipes.
You can see an example of the use of Chicory Root in a dry dog food recipe in the below ingredient list of Taste of the Wild’s Sierra Mountain formula.
As you can see, Chicory Root features quite far down the ingredient list alongside several other minor ingredients like Tomatoes, Blueberries, Raspberries, and Yucca Extract.
The fact that some of these big-name pet food brands regularly use Chicory Root is a good sign as it is unlikely they would use it 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 reinforces the belief that its inclusion in these dog food recipes is as it is being used for its probiotic properties or as a digestive aid.