Feed Your Dog This Not That: Carbs

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Although dogs will eat like omnivores, they are descendants of the carnivore wolf and thus will thrive on diets high in protein and fat.  By definition, this also means that dogs require little in the way of carbohydrates.


Canine Ancestral Diet = Low Carbohydrates

A canine ancestral diet, the typical diet that a dog (or wolf) would have lived on before civilization and modern life, would have been a diet that derived somewhere near 85% of the total daily calories from meat and fish, with some vegetation and fruits mixed in (either as low hanging, easy to scarf fruits and vegetables or as sourced in the digestive systems of their prey). These fruits and vegetables would have supplied all the carbs that were needed to round out their diet.

Feed this Not that_carbs

Today, dogs are mostly fed diets that are much higher in carbs than their ancestors would have eaten.  Many commercially available foods are formulated to contain more than 50% carbohydrates, which is not optimal for a dog’s body.


The primary reason that many dog foods are loaded up with carbs is because they are a cheaper source of calories than meat.  Manufacturers will use nonmeat proteins (like from what or soy) to increase the total protein amount and other cheap to source carbohydrates to round out the overall nutrition of a food.  They do this even though a dog’s body is not meant to fully digest and utilize these carb based nutrients.


Although carbs themselves are not necessarily bad for a dog, feeding them too much or the wrong kinds of carbs is not recommended.  With respect to how much of a dog’s daily calorie requirement should come from carbs, a good, safe target should be about 1/3 (if not less).   Of course, some dogs with special health conditions might need to eat diets that are much higher in carbs (and lower in protein and/or fat).  But the average, healthy dog would do well on a diet with moderate carbohydrate content.


With respect to the types of carbs that are included in a dog food, not all carbs are created equal.  They key is to include carbs that are high in nutritional value and have a low glycemic index. The table below provides examples of common dog food ingredients that should be fed to a dog. or not!


Carbohydrates in a Dog’s Diet

Feed This Not That
Brown Rice White Rice
Oats Starch
Barley Gluten
Sweet Potato Cereal
Chick Peas Corn


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  1. thanks for the info… I will replace the white rice now and I will look for sweet potatoes :o)
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog TRIBUTE TUESDAYMy Profile

  2. Thanks for sharing this list with us so the doggies can eat healthier.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Wags And Waves For ForrestMy Profile

  3. I try to find foods with lower carb percentages; but with all the hidden ingredients put in pet food these days, who knows how accurate those charts are anyway?
    Callie, Shadow, and Ducky’s Mom recently posted…Taking A BreakMy Profile

  4. We try to stay with sweet potatoes and chick peas. Haven’t done much with brown rice or oats for that matter. They love fruits and veggies – I am thankful for that 🙂 Hope all is well with you and your pack!
    Groovy Goldendoodles recently posted…BEST CITY FOR PET TRAVELERSMy Profile

  5. Yay! We are feeding the boys right! LOL ☺
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Pet Blogging Is Not Supposed to HurtMy Profile

  6. I’ve never considered chick peas before, I’ll have to try it out. It’s weird that white rice is still recommended all the time for dogs with an upset tummy, it makes me wonder if it’s because people are so used to saying it, or if they don’t know the difference between the two.
    Jen recently posted…Meet Your Best Friend at the Detroit Zoo This WeekendMy Profile

  7. I love carbs!!
    Julie recently posted…Party at the VetMy Profile

  8. Pawsome post SlimDoggy!
    <3 nose nudges <3

  9. Great list. Working at a veterinarian hospital previously we constantly educated pet owners on healthier options. 🙂

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