Average Protein, Fat, and Carb Content in Dog Foods
When choosing an appropriate dog food for a dog, the first indicator of suitability for the species is the macronutrient profile. The macronutrient profile is the percentage makeup of the macronutrients—the protein, fat, and carbs—in the dog food. Because dogs are of carnivore descent, they will tend to thrive on diets that are high in protein, moderate in fat, and relatively low in carbohydrates.
Unfortunately, most dog food labels do not report the macronutrient profile on the label. Rather, they report the food’s guaranteed analysis, which is (sort of) useless at first glance. The guaranteed analysis will typically show protein, fat, fiber, and moisture content of the food, in percentage terms. Conspicuously missing is the carb content, so it is hard to determine the macronutrient balance without performing some math. The technique to determine the relative amount of protein, fat, and carbs in dog food is called “dry matter basis”. I have written several posts on how to do this math so I won’t discuss this today. Suffice to say that the numbers that I am reporting today were mostly derived from a similar calculation.
As mentioned earlier, most normal dogs will thrive on a high protein, moderate fat, and low carb diet. Averaging across all foods, we can take a look at that the pet food industry deems the appropriate balance and see if we agree with this assessment. First, let’s look at the dry foods.
Average Protein, Fat, and Carbs in Dry Dog Foods
As shown in the pie chart below, the average macronutrient profile for dry dog foods reflects a food that is higher in carbs than in protein or fat. In fact, the average amount of carbs is greater than the average protein and fat amounts combined! This is certainly inconsistent with a carnivore based diet. With that said, there are several dry dog foods with much lower carbohydrate content, and thus, higher protein and fat content, from which to choose from if dry food is your food form of choice.
Average Protein, Fat, and Carbs in Wet Dog Foods
As shown in the pie chart below, the average macronutrient profile for wet dog foods reflects a slightly better scenario. The average wet dog food is made up of about 1/3 carbs and 2/3 protein and fat. This is much more in line with a species appropriate diet, although some would argue that a food providing a third of total calories from carbs is still to carb heavy for a dog. Like with dry foods, there are many wet dog food recipes that are even more heavily skewed to protein and fat sources.
This analysis clearly shows that dry and wet dog foods are very different in terms of their macronutrient composition. Dry food tends to derive a much larger percentage of its calories from carbs than will wet foods. “Food for thought” when picking a food form for your pet.