Are Carbs Good or Bad for Dogs?

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imageWe have already established that dog’s need a diet high in protein and with adequate fat.  But what about carbohydrates- is this macro-nutrient essential to a dog’s diet?  To answer this question, let’s first discuss the role of carbohydrates and then look at what the canine’s ancestral diet might have looked like.

The Role of Carbohydrates in a Dog’s Diet

Carbohydrates can provide several benefits as a macro-nutrient including:

Provide Energy –although dogs are able to convert protein and fat to satisfy their energy requirements, carbohydrates s are a relatively inexpensive and practical way to provide adequate energy for your pet.

Provide Beneficial Fiber- carbohydrates are the source of dietary fiber, which promotes overall gastrointestinal health by increasing gastrointestinal motility and by collecting debris and dead cells that accumulate in the  gastrointestinal tract .  Soluble fibers, sometimes called prebiotics,  aids in promoting the growth of additional beneficial (or probiotic) bacteria and helps crowd out pathogenic (disease-producing) bacteria.

Creates Satiation – carbohydrates (and their associated fiber) helps the dog feel satiated and thus, ‘less hungry’.

 The Canine Ancestral Diet

According to Steve Brown, author of the “Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet”, carbohydrates played a minimal role in the dog’s ancestral diet—less than 10% of the marco nutrient profile. This is far less than most commercially available foods, with many dry foods containing between 30% and 70% carbohydrates.

Does this mean that carbohydrates are inherently bad for your dog?  No, as long as they are not a major source of energy when compared to protein and fat, carbohydrates can provide the aforementioned benefits to your dog.

 Sources of Carbs

There is a variety of common sources of carbohydrates in commercially available dog food.  Look for higher quality carbohydrate sources like these listed below:

  • rice
  • oats
  • barley
  • millet
  • potatoes
  • sweet potatoes
  • peas
  •  chick peas

We also recommend avoiding lower quality sources such as:

  • grain by-products
  • middlings
  • mill run
  • cereal food
  • grain fermentation solubles
  • starch
  • gluten

Next week, we will show you how to estimate the carbohydrate percentage in your dog’s food so that you will be able to determine if diet adjustments are needed.

We’re joining the Tasty Tuesday Blog Hop sponsored by Sugar, the Golden Retriever and Kolchak from Kol’s Notes:

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  1. Good info here…I’ve found that the less grain I feed the healthier my dog…He does get carbs through veggies
    GizmoGeodog recently posted…KONG Premium Treats Supports Park Day 2.0My Profile

  2. Oh dear, I best hide this from mom as I love eating her pizza crusts and this might get her to think about stopping that…she is a carb nut, eats enough for 2 of her but since we are all an ok size we aren’t panicking yet. This doggy nutrition stuff is quite interesting, though.
    emma recently posted…Lilacs | GBGV | Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

    • Good thing you’re a runner…run those carbs right off!

  3. Our current food has brewers rice as the second ingredient, but no other carbs other than that, good or bad. I wonder if that is bad or good. I have been trying to give them more fruits and veggies as treats too.
    Jan K recently posted…Kobi’s “Kumfy” PrizeMy Profile

  4. Everything in moderation. I agree with you that feeding your dog some carbs, as long as they are balanced with fat and protein, is fine. There is a woman who keeps commenting on my blog every time I write about a dog food or treat that dogs should not eat carbs. Her stance is EVER. She even went as far once to tell me that doing so is animal abuse. I am glad to see you have a much more balanced view and approach.
    Jessica recently posted…Homemade Energy Bars Both You and Your Dog Can EatMy Profile

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