Why Carbohydrates are Bad for Dogs

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Last week I discussed the reasons why some carbohydrates are actually good for a dog’s health.  However, not all carbs are created equal and there are many which are generally unhealthy for a dog’s body.  These carbs, which are often included in many commercially dog food recipes, should be avoided when a pet parent chooses their pet’s food.


Carbohydrates to Avoid in a Dog’s Diet

There are two general categories of carbs that should not be fed to dogs (or humans, for that matter): 1) high glycemic index carbs and 2) highly processed carbs.

carbs aren't good for your dog

High Glycemic Index Carbs are foods that can cause a body’s blood sugar levels spike immediately after eating them.  The glycemic index (GI) ranks how fast and how high a food will cause blood sugar to rise. The GI ranges for foods are:

Low: 55 or less

Moderate: 56-69

High: 70 or greater


Foods with higher GI values cause quicker, larger blood sugar spikes.  Foods with lower GI values cause slower and more moderate increases in blood sugar. Generally speaking, high GI foods are unhealthy (although there are certain exceptions).


Why are High GI Carbs Bad for a Dog?

High GI foods are potentially harmful to the body because the spike in blood sugar levels can trigger a chronic (long term) internal inflammatory response.  This chronic inflammation can facilitate a variety of different diseases including diabetes, heart problems, arthritis, cancer, and obesity.\


High GI foods that are commonly found in commercial dog foods and which should be avoided include:

  1. Corn including corn meal and other form so corn
  2. White Rice
  3. Wheat
  4. Sugar in any form (e.g. sugar or sucrose)
  5. Plain White Potatoes (although potatoes can provide some health benefit, especially to dogs that have gastrointestinal or liver issues)


Instead of the above ingredients, look for dog foods that contain the more healthy and usually lower GI foods like the ones that we discussed last week (cruciferous vegetables, berries and most other fruits, and legumes).


When it comes to grains, the lower GI grains are preferred.  Look for sorghum, quinoa, and oats as healthy grain choices.


Highly Processed Carbs

Like with humans, foods that are highly processed will lose their nutritional potency and offer little benefit to a dog’s health.  For example, consider plain white rice, which lacks nutritional punch versus whole brown rice which can be a healthy ingredient.  In dog foods it is wise to look for foods that are at or near their whole state.  As if being a high GI food is not ad enough, further processing makes many of the cheaper, filler ingredients even less appropriate for a dog. Examples include wheat gluten and corn gluten, and corn meal.  Avoid these ingredients as they are a sign of an inferior food recipe.

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  1. I wonder why our diet-food has sweet potatoes… that’s crazy, isn’t it? I fortunately bought some bags before they replaced the pomegranate with sweet potatoes… and later I rather look for another brand…
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  2. Should I not be dehydrating sweet potatoes for the dogs? We usually dehydrate bananas but they love the occasional sweet tater! ☺
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  3. So much is like for us. Good food in our bodies for the best health!!
    Julie recently posted…Trail runningMy Profile

  4. High glycemic foods are poor food choices and it’s interesting how it (negatively) affects both canines and their humans.

  5. I was under the impression sweet potatoes were good for dogs, even though white potatoes are not. No? Neither? I think sweet potatoes are a big ingredient in the food we’ve been getting.
    Jan K recently posted…My Heart, My Heroes #MyPetisMyHeroMy Profile

  6. The more we know the scarier it gets to weed through the crap #chills Just spent almost all afternoon in a large chain pet store (I was looking for balls) with a man who was making some terrible dog food and treat choices #OMDoodle I couldn’t keep it to myself, had to strike up a convo and point some things out. He seemed appreciative and thanked me yet took all that junk right to the register. #Itried

  7. I was surprised to see potato on the list but then read further and saw the part about gastrointestinal issues as we have a few dogs on a potato based food when they have protein being lost from the intestinal tract.
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  8. Ahh yes. That makes a lot of sense! Eerily similar to humans too!
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  9. So it is just necessary to feed them a little bit and more protein. Well detailed food plan, thanks for thanks!
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  10. I feed my cats a homemade raw diet that has no carbs, but for dogs, this totally makes sense. FYI, sweet potatoes are low GI (54) compared to regular potatoes at 104. I’m not sure where the reference to sweet potatoes in the comments is coming from as I don’t see them mentioned in the post. Thanks for the info.
    Ava at Savvy Pet Care recently posted…3 Reasons to Rotate Proteins in Your Pet’s DietMy Profile

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