Protein & Fats & Carbs, Oh My!
This week we continue our analysis of dog food data so that we can provide you with some benchmarks with which to judge the merits of your dog food choices. We closed last week’s post by posing a question: Does the average dog food contain more protein, fat, or carbohydrates?
Based on our prior posts about these macronutrients, we would certainly hope that protein is the predominant ingredient because dogs are descendants of carnivores and their ancestors feasted on a diet that was high in animal protein and fat along with a small amount of vegetation.
Drum Roll Please…
We analyzed about 1,500 canned and dry dog foods and converted their guaranteed analysis values to a dry matter basis. The graph below tells the story. The average dog food contains about 35% protein, 19% fat, and 37% carbohydrates.
There is both good news and bad news in these numbers. First the good news. The 37% average carbohydrate number is actually less than I would have guessed – probably due to the recent popularity of grain free and lower carb food recipes. The bad news is that carbs still make up more of the average food than does protein.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the data to get a more complete picture. First, we were curious to see how many foods were higher in protein than in carbs. It turns out that 47% of the foods were higher in protein, and thus, 53% of the foods are higher in crabs than protein. This indicates that there is a decent number of higher protein food choices available—so no excuse if you are currently feeding your dog a high carb/low protein food!
Secondly, we wanted to dig deeper than the averages and take a look at the ranges of the dry matter percentages for the three macronutrients. To accomplish this, we created histogram graphs which show the range and frequency of values for protein, fat, and carbs. These are displayed below. You will notice that of the three, it is the carbohydrates that are the most varied—that is to say, there is a far greater range of values than the protein and fat cases. This means that there are a significant number of dog foods that are very high in carbs (50% or greater) and thus you should diligently check your dog food labels to make sure that you are aware of how your dog’s food stacks up versus the industry data and are not inadvertently feeding your dog a high carb, potentially inferior product.
Fats range between 10-50% with most of the foods clustered between 20-40%.
If you can’t tell by now, we love data and graphs. Let us know if you have any questions on today’s analysis or if you would like some further explanation on how to interpret the results.
Poor Jack seems a bit exhausted from all that ‘stats’ work.