Feed Your Dog This Not That: Carbs
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.
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|