Carbohydrates, Are They Really Good for Your Dog? or Just a Cheap Filler?
Dog nutrition is a highly confusing topic. How much protein should your pet have? What about carbohydrates? Are corn, wheat and soy really bad for your pet? Do dogs need carbs?
These are just some of the questions today’s pet parents ask themselves.
To further complicate the matter, there’s no single “right” answer and even the Australian Veterinary Association says, “The nutritional status of cats and dogs is a very important indicator of their health and welfare and should be assessed by veterinarians as part of a holistic approach to veterinary care.”
As you can see, this isn’t a helpful answer.
What it all boils down to is there isn’t a “one-size-fits”, all “perfect” diet for anyone. Each dog has his or her genetic make-up and may react differently to different foods.
Here’s what we do know, and that your pet needs a balanced diet to thrive – just like you – your dog will feel and look his best when he eats high quality, whole foods.
That’s what our bodies are made to digest.
Now let’s take the carbohydrate question. Does your dog need them? Are they beneficial?
You probably know that all carbohydrates are not created equal. For example, broccoli is a carb as is sugar; obviously, there’s a health benefit to the broccoli.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the world of carbohydrates and how they can affect your pup.
What are carbs?
Grains, fruits, legumes and even vegetables are all carbohydrates. But not all carbs are the same. There are generally two types of carbohydrates – simple and complex.
Let’s break that down.
Simple or fast acting carbohydrates are mainly associated with processed foods like white bread and soft drinks. Essentially, simple carbs are sugar. That means they affect your pet’s blood sugar and they can cause his blood sugar to spike. They contribute to weight gain and are the types of carbs that give carbs a bad name.
Complex carbs are often further defined as wholegrain or starches and which also includes legumes and vegetables. Broccoli and brown rice are both examples of complex carbohydrates. Apples are also complex carbohydrates and so as beans and starchy veggies like sweet potatoes.
They’re often called the “good” carbs because they provide a slower and steadier energy source. But what does your dog need?
Carbohydrates in Dog Food
Most brands of dog food have between 30-70% carbohydrates. The bulk of these are usually in the form of some type of grain – wheat flour, brown rice, millet. Some of those carbs come from vegetables too but the question of how much depends on the food.
Then there are the “filler” carbs found in low-quality pet food. Things like soybean hulls, rice, pea fiber. These things do serve a purpose other than taking up space on the ingredient label. They can provide your dog needed fiber which helps regulate your pet’s digestion.
And if you use a grain free food, that doesn’t mean you’re not feeding your pet carbs. As mentioned earlier, sweet potatoes and other vegetables fit within the realm of carbs. But they’re higher value carbs which, if fed in moderation, can benefit your dog. After all, sweet potatoes and beets have vitamins and minerals.
Does Your Dog Need Carbohydrates?
Dogs, technically, do not need carbohydrates. If you go to the genetic make-up and the ancestral diet, dogs mostly eat protein and fat. Yet, most dogs will do fine on a high-quality diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in protein.
If your dog has a shiny coat, clear eyes and plenty of energy, then he or she is probably having his or her nutritional needs met.
However, you may have noticed your dog gaining weight, lethargic, maybe overly scratchy…these are signs of a nutritional imbalance and a high protein, low carb diet may help.
It’s not uncommon to find grain-free pet foods and treats on the market today. One of the reasons for the explosion in grain-free foods is because of the growing trend to step away from feeding your pet foods filled with carbohydrates and focusing on other ingredients instead.
This means choosing protein rich pet foods and finding other ways to get protein into your pet’s diet. Here at Pet Snacks, we focus on offering pasture rich kangaroo treats for dogs made without fillers.