What is bran?
Bran is the hard outer layer of a cereal grain that surrounds the endosperm. In the case of a cereal grain, the endosperm is the good stuff we like to eat. The stuff that makes flour etc. The sad thing is though, we should also like to eat the bran because that is actually the best bit. Certainly the most nutritious bit. It contains protein, carbohydrates, b-vitamins and more besides. It’s also a wonderful source of dietary fibre. And what does this have to do with dogs? Those very same things that make bran so good for you, makes bran for dogs good for your best friend too!
But as with so many beneficial foodstuffs that come our way courtesy of Mother Nature, we generally peel off and throw away the best bit. Think of an apple or a potato for example. For whatever strange reason, we actually peel off and discard the most nutritious parts. The skin!
In the case of bran though, it does at least go on to become a byproduct. A byproduct of the milling of the refined grains like wheat flour that we’re rather over fond of for our health. The good thing from the point of our dogs though is that this particular byproduct, bran, is exceptionally good for man’s best friend. That’s why it is included in so many commercial dog foods. Aside from the fact it’s cheap of course, which is always a primary motivatory for the commercial dog food industry!
The crazy thing about bran though is that one of the reasons it is discarded in the milling process is the fact that its fatty acids shorten its shelf life. It spoils more quickly than the endosperm, the seeds that we like to mill and turn into cakes and pastries.
Types of bran
There are numerous types of cereal bran, all of which are excellent sources of dietary fibre for your dog. These include:
- Rice bran
- Corn bran
- Wheat bran
- Oat bran
- Barley bran
- Rye bran
- Millet bran
My favourite bran for dogs though is oat bran, something I’m also partial to in my own diet by the way!
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Nutrients in bran
Bran has a lot going for it. Its nutrients include:
- Dietary fibre
- Essential fatty acids
And the important thing about these nutrients is that they are natural nutrients. All provided by Mother Nature. Not a single synthetic nutrient in sight!
Benefits of bran for dogs
Bran is good for your dog’s digestive system. But bran for dogs offers more benefits beside. It can help with:
- Weight management
- Intestinal health
And it may also help reduce the risk of colon cancer! Obviously don’t go overboard with bran for dogs. But if your best friend is constipated, bran is so much better for your dog than any synthetic laxative prescribed by your vet!
How to feed your dog bran
If you would like to add bran to your own dog’s diet, you can do so in a number of ways. You can simply sprinkle it on its food as a topper or you can add it to a dog treat baking mix. You can also of course add it to its homemade dog food.
Personally, as a dog nutrionist, I add it to a daily seed mix I feed my dogs. They love it. Oh, and I only ever give my dogs human-grade bran since I want to make sure it’s 100% natural and perfectly safe for my guys.