Dogs and Carbohydrates — A Surprising Secret Revealed

Share

Zero. That’s how many carbohydrates are nutritionally required by a dog to sustain life.
Dog Food Carbohydrate Secrets
The fact that a dog food doesn’t need to contain any “carbs” at all seems hard to believe.

But it’s true.

You see, according to the National Research Council and compared to the other two major nutrients — protein and fat — no carbs are considered essential for a healthy canine diet.1

Dogs don’t need corn. And they don’t need wheat, barley rice or potatoes, either. 

Yet surprisingly, carbs represent the dominant nutrient found in most dry dog foods.

Why Dog Food Companies
Love Carbohydrates

Since the early 1950s, dog food manufacturers everywhere have fallen head-over-heels in love with carbs because they’re:

  • Abundant
  • Durable (long shelf life)
  • Essential to the kibble-making process
  • Cheaper (per calorie than protein or fat)

Please notice that not one of these reasons has anything to do with nutrition — not one.

Are Carbs Safe?

Carbohydrates aren’t bad for dogs. In reasonable amounts, they can actually provide a practical source of energy.

However, the problem lies in their quantity.

Using a dog’s ancestral diet as a model, the total amount of carbs consumed by a dog’s evolutionary predecessor is dramatically less than what’s become the norm for today’s kibbles.

One sensible source estimates natural carbohydrate consumption for a dog’s ancestors at around 14 percent of total diet.2

Yet on average, today’s dry dog foods contain somewhere between 46 and 74 percent carbohydrates.3

Comparing the Numbers

Today’s kibbles contain as much as four times the carbohydrate content historically found in the canine ancestral diet.

Canine Ancestral Diet versus Dry Dog Food

Wouldn’t it make sense for a dog’s food to be more like the specie’s ancestral diet — with more protein and fat — and fewer carbs?

The Bottom Line

When choosing dog food, it’s reasonable to favor products lower in carbohydrates. 

However, since most dog food manufacturers fail to disclose the percentage of carbohydrates contained in their products, the Dog Food Advisor provides an estimate of this important figure inside every review.

So, look for dog foods rich in meat-based protein and lower in carbs. You could be adding years of better health to your best friend’s life.

Footnotes

  1. National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, “Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats”, 2006 Edition, National Academies Press, Washington, DC
  2. Brown S., Taylor B., “See Spot Live Longer”, 2007 Creekobear Press, Eugene, OR USA, page 51
  3. National Research Council, National Academy of Science, “Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats”, 2006 Edition, National Academies Press, Washington, DC, p 317
  • Annie

    I found out all this the hard way. One of my super picky dogs also had a horrible yeast problem – very itchy and licking and scratching all the time and really really bad tear stains. When we switched dog foods to one that didn’t have any of those carbs wow! It’s also organic and dehydrated.

  • Dogman

    Dana is right. Research the kibbles, most contain 40%-70% carbs which are of little value for dogs. And all those fancy ingredients further down the list are premixes that most of the dog food manufacturers buy from China with some bad stuff in there. Its ok if you dont believe me, just do some research and you will see. I know raw can be expensive and most people won’t feed it, but a good canned food is generally better than the best kibble. Eating kibble for a life time will take its toll. If you must feed a kibble, rotate the brands and meat/protein sources.

  • Gemma Cadman-Fildes

    When feeding proteins you also need to ratio this out with bone, organs etc. The right ratio is 80% meat, 10% Offal (5% being liver) 10% bone. The bone content in food is what makes the poo more solid.
    All the essentials they need all come from these three things. Probiotic if you want to use, are good to add if needed however if you do go for this try to get the most natural one as possible. Rice isn’t any good for dogs as they can’t naturally digest carbs & get no nutrition from it – Its just what’s known as a filler. Hope it helps alittle.

  • Pitlove

    Hi Sharron-

    I don’t know how much help I can be with that question since I don’t focus much on ingredients unless avoiding certain ones for food related sensitivities/intolerances.

    Considering I know nothing about Performatrin as a company I can only recommend Natural Balance. I do really like NB as a company.

  • Pitlove

    I have a 3 year old and 10 year old. So for her especially if she is spayed it could be she related. Also if she is a smaller dog, an extra 15 calories adds up fast. 15 calories sounds innocent enough, but it’s not depending on the dog.

    Natural Balance is a great company. I personally prefer them to Nulo. NB staffs nutritionists and if you call with a question, a vet tech trained in nutrition answers their customer service line. I really like that.

    Consider going back to the green beans as her extra treat. Sounds like that worked well.

  • Susan

    Hi Krista, your making a good decision changing foods stay with kibbles that are under 40% in carbs & around 26% protein, dogs do not need all those carbs….also another good limited ingredient kibbles are “Canidae Pure formula’s they have around 7-9 ingredients or Canidae Pure Small Breed have about 5 ingredients or Canidae make their All Life Stages formula’s that has healthy grains & sweet potatoes, peas etc they also make a cheaper brand called “Under The Sun” UTS has single protein kibbles, link is below….
    or “Taste Of The Wild” Sierra Mountain, Roasted Lamb, 38% in carbs, protein-25%, fat-15%max has only 1 protein lamb meal & has limited ingredients-Lamb, Lamb Meal, sweet potatoes, potatoes, peas, salmon Oil, egg, roasted lamb…. https://www.canidae.com/dog-food/products

  • Krista

    Hi,

    She gets 40-60 minute walks most days and if she’s lucky she gets two walks but usually just one. The treats I give her are factored into the 315 calories sometimes she gets a little extra like by 15 calories from an extra treat, but nothing else. Im confused Because she has had up to 340 calries before and it didn’t really change her weight. Although the added calories were from green beans not sure if that changes things. Its interesting that you mention you’re dogs do well on high carb foods. I’m wondering if maybe since she just turned 5 her metabolism had slowed down and she just needs less calories? Or perhaps she’s just different? What do you think of Natural Balance? I happen to like foods with less ingredients but I do wish Natural Balance had more protein. Nulo isn’t too bad because they only have 13 ingredients and they are actually coming out with a limited ingredient line super soon.

  • sharron

    Hi pitlove – need your opinion please on Natural Balance Limited Ingredients dry or Performatrin Ultra Limited Ingredients dry foods…..thanks

  • Pitlove

    Hi Krista-

    Are your dogs less active right now? Still getting a lot of treats? Are they getting toppers on their food or only eating the dry food? Table food?

    My dogs eat fairly high carb foods and maintain ideal body weight. One is neutered as well.

  • Krista

    My dog has been on Natural Balance for about 2 months now and has only been eating 315 calories per day from all sources. (Lower than normal) she has put on some weight and I’m thinking it’s due to the higher carb content in this food. The dry food is almost 60% carbs dry matter basis. Even the canned food is high carb. I’m switching to Nulo freestyle which has 40% carbs dry matter basis. I think Orijen and Acana are good but they have a crazy amount of ingredients in their food. (30+)

  • Kuan

    My 14 year old shelties tend to have soft poo, and her condition improved after I gave her daily dose of probiotics capsule and it’s the one that has cranberry as an ingredient. I have been giving her brown rice for a long time and come to think of it, it seems not to be a good choice either. Shelties tend to be more sensitive to oily meat e.g. duck, not sure about collie. So for my girl, it is a mix of meat, brown rice, veg and a little commercial food.

  • Susan

    Lynne Mejury
    You need to leave me alone & mind your own business which name do I call you Red, LM, Anonymous, Anon101 how may other fake names do you have??? oh yeah the latest one Patricia Lang.. get a life LEAVE ME ALONE Lynne..

  • Susan

    You have set up a fake account like “anon101” does she’s another trouble maker that gets obessed with my post & cant let things go full on OCD…
    Click on Fugazzzii this account was started the same time you started harassing me about CLP & all the post Fugazzzii makes are all to ME….all cause you cant handle the truth that Orijen made the bad list, get over it..

  • anon101

    Daniel, thanks for the information you provided about CLP. So many scams out there
    Ps: Name calling is never okay.

  • Daniel

    So because I disagree with you I’m using a fake name? Did you read CLP’s Ask me Anything on Reddit? The answers they give are very suspect.

    But that’s ok, you can call me stupid.

  • Susan

    Daniel or Fugazzzii whatever fake name your using…….You can’t fix stupid…

  • Dana Disney

    Actually I’m currently in my second year of University studying to become a veterinarian with a minor on holistic nutrition. There are various reasons why kibble can sustain a dog but all in all a dog cannot thrive just on kibble alone. There are many factors to consider such as the food lacking in vital phytonutrients, omega 3 to 6 balance and the state of dehydration a pet can consistantly live in. Dogs of course are scavangers and will eat whatever they can to survive. An animal may look fine on the surface, however internally overtime damage can occur. There are so many case studies I have researched scientifically proving the longevity of a raw fed canine versus that of a solely kibble raised canine. There is too much information to express in this message but I would be happy to forward any case studies to you.

  • Daniel

    You are hysterical. Read their AMA on Reddit. CLP has no credibility.

  • Susan

    Clean Label Project are NOT paying me……CLP HAS RELEASED TEST RESULTS to pet food companies….
    Some People believe if a pet food has 5 stars & is expensive it must be a good pet food with really good quality ingredients…but they’re not….too many pet foods are falling under the radar….
    FINALLY Clean Label Project has tested the most popular pet foods & treats and people were VERY surprised with the results….I think people were shocked cause Purina wasnt in the top 10 worse pet foods & Orijen & Acana were…. People are saying the testing is rigged, Purina has paid CLP, CLP is a scam, gee you all sound like a bunch of spoilt school kids….. Two kibbles I was feeding my dog came 7th & 10th…my boy became real sick, vet blamed his IBD after eating these formulas…..Now I have some answers & it wasn’t his IBD when he was really unwell those 2 times…..I do not feed any fish formula’s no more…
    Since you follow my post look for the link where CBS interview’s CLP & ask why they didn’t release test results to the public…..CLP have said they released test results to the pet food companies, so hopefully these pet food companies will change suppliers & next year when CLP test these formula’s again these bad formula’s will be on the good list….We’ll see how much these pet food companies care about our pets or do they care more about making money…

  • Daniel

    How much is Clean Label Project paying you? You’ve been shilling for them all over this site.

    They are not an authority. CLP does not publish any numbers of their so called testing. Why do you trust them?

  • Susan

    I hope your dogs aren’t eating the Orijen fish formula’s?? “Clean Label Project” tested the most popular pet foods for lead, mercury, arsenic & cadmium & the Orijen fish formula’s rated the highest… http://www.cleanlabelproject.org/project-ratings/pet-foods/
    also here’s a really good link about a dog called Cali, Cali was pregnant but when she had her Ultra scan she only had 1 pup & the big mass was an aggressive cancer “Hemangiosarcoma” they hoped she’d stay alive to give birth to her put, she was put on a Raw “Ketopet” Diet, the results will astound you…just changing her diet…
    https://www.facebook.com/dogcancerseries/videos//778226332345785/?fret=mentions&pnref=story

  • ThomasVanHoesen

    Can I see your degree in dog nutrition? Micro biology? Or you read it on the internet. I’ll put any of my working dogs that eat fish based kibble and fish fillets vs any of your raw diet dogs. Most people making these comments have raised 1.4 dogs in their lifetime studies show. I’ve raised trained titled 15 dogs , so far.

  • Dana Disney

    Raw is always best- healthy happy dogs. Kibble is like giving your dog junkfood for life. They need fresh food with trace minerals, probiotics and phytonutrients from ground green veggies

  • Susan

    Hi how’s your girl doing?? I have a dog with IBD & Food Intolerances, “Taste Of The Wild” Sierra Mountain Roasted Lamb, a limited ingredient & single protein, all life formula is really good, my 8yr old boy finally started to do nice firm poos & “Canidae” Pure Meadow Senior is also a limited ingredient kibble tha’s easy to digest.. What I do is I feed 5 smaller meals a day, 3 of these meals are kibble & the other 2 meals are cooked meal or vet diet Royal Canine, Hypoallergenic Wet tin food, you could feed 4 smaller meals a day, 2 meals kibble & the other 2 meals a cooked meal & see how she goes… as we get older we don’t make as much Hydrochloric acid in our stomach & our digestion slows down, so it’s best to feed more smaller meals thru the day instead of feeding 2 big meals…

  • disqus_SBl7sCuYS7

    Please listen to the vet that has examined and diagnosed your dog. Or, consult a specialist. You may have done nothing wrong, a lot of these maladies have a genetic component.

  • Michele Radin

    FYI your vets nutritional training is funded by the very consumer goods companies that manufacture the dog food they are advising… how likely do you think alternative nutritional research is getting to your dog?? Please do some independent research, especially in a condition so widely studied in human medicine– look at those dietary refs! Yes, dogs digestive systems are different, but disease MAY have similar prescriptions

  • Michele Radin

    Yes, carb to protein ratio will definitely define her poop! That’s why carbs are in dog food, that and they are cheap– commercial dog food is designed for primarily for human convenience, i.e., poop clean up, not nutrition ( NYT did great investigation on dog food industry several yrsago). Also type of carbs–try adding a little cooked brown rice to her diet to control her digestion… bit otherwise primarily protein, no dairy, a little cooked veg then experiment with the exact proportions for her — and make sure she gets lots of water

  • Lindsey Rae

    Hi Cindy,

    Just curious what you decided to do for your Yorkie’s diet. Was he diagnosed with a Shunt or MVD and by what means what it determined? (Scintigraphy, biopsy, etc.)

    I’ve also got a little Yorkie who was diagnosed several years ago with MVD through biopsy. I’ve been extreamly successful in managing him with The Honest Kitchen. He generally eats Brave, Zeal and Embark. I occasionally mix in some raw too, although I’m cautious as I know it’s possible he won’t be able to handle it as well as a ‘normal’ dog will.

    I would definitely look into THK if you haven’t already. I can’t even begin to explain what a difference a whole food diet made for him. He was very sick as a young dog and at the vet at least twice a month with several specialist visits at UT. Once switching him to THK, his symptoms virtually disappeared.

    I would also get your dog on some liver supporting supplements. Denamarin is a popular one, but if that doesn’t work, try to find others that have Sam-e and Milk Thistle.

  • Lindsey Rae

    What a ridiculous thing to say. A dog with a liver shunt can go on to live a normal life after surgery. There is absolutely hope for LS dogs.

  • Teanna Duncan

    My dog was the exact same way, very picky eater when it comes to dry or canned dog food. She will eat most foods I make for myself (carbs & proteins especially) so it cost me a lot of time and money to find a dry kibble that she likes. It was stressful as I’m used to dogs that will eat basically anything you slap in front of them. She also has a sensitive stomach so any new forms of dog food would upset it and give her diarrhea. I was told to starve her until she ate the kibble I bought her & I would never suggest that to anyone. Out of desperation I tried it once which lasted three days, I would still give her small treats off my plate in hopes to kick start her appetite and that she would eat the dog food but she never did. It was terrible and I felt like a monster. At food basics I seen that they sold the same dog food in a big bag for big dogs and in a small bag for tiny dogs, I started buying the tiny versions of the bag and that’s how I eventually found a dry dog food she loves (I still make her the occasional steak) I understand and feel your desperation, persistence is key.

  • disqus_SBl7sCuYS7
  • My dog was having skin issues, frito smell and feet licking.
    I decided to make her food.
    I found a great series on YouTube by Dr. Becker! She is a working vet.
    She has videos covering ALL issues.
    I suspect my dog has yeast issues and just put her on a no carb diet…finger crossed!
    You may want to check out Dr. Becker!

  • Chris

    I agree with Angela. Milk thistle does wonders for the liver. This is well known. About the low protein diet – that is usually done if the kidneys have issues but not for the liver? Liver problems require low fat … ?

  • Chris

    I think your dogs gutts might not have appropriate bacteria for digestion. I had similar issues with one of my dogs. A vet recommended FortiFlora, a food additive that comes in small, single dose packages. It is not cheap but might really help. With my dog, it was the only solution that worked and we tried a lot.

  • gemma smith

    Thanks,I will have a look. Vet said chappie so I may just put her on that and see how she goes.

  • Crazy4cats

    Have you tried this website to formulate a home cooked balanced meal that is run by a Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist?
    https://secure.balanceit.com/
    You can formulate low protein diets and then buy their supplement to balance it making sure your pup is getting all her proper nutrients.
    I try to make my dogs a home cooked meal 2 or 3 times per month using recipes that I have formulated using their free auto balancer. Ask your vet what they think about it! Best wishes.

  • disqus_SBl7sCuYS7

    I would go by what the veterinarian that has examined her and knows her history recommends.

  • gemma smith

    Hi everyone,I’ve been reading comments and very confused!! I have a nearly 14 yr collie cross and she can’t go a week without having soft poos, I have her on a home cooked diet at the moment but yesterday and today had diarrhea. She’s been vets and I got told too much protein is causing this. At the time she was on wet,tinned food her liver enzyme s were up so I changed to a home cooked diet,I got a recepie online and the main ingredient is carbs??? Is this why she has soft poos? So tinned food no good and now home cooked no good. I’m so confused and have no idea what to do now. I’ve stopped the dentastix,I thought it may of been that but these past two days have probably been the worst diarrhea she’s and in a while. She’s really happy In herself,lively,playing and wanting to go for walks so I don’t know what do. Any info appreciated.

  • InkedMarie

    Healthy senior dogs have no problem with a higher protein diet.

  • Erssie Major

    It’s well known that senior dogs’ kidneys struggle with a diet high in protein. Probably in the wild, their ancestors didn’t live as long as our pets so not an issue. Also, if you have an overly anxious dog protein producing a lot of amino acids breaks down and depletes serotonin (the happy hormone). Anxious dogs bonded their human can sleep little, be hyperactive despite 3 walks a day, suffer Separation Anxiety and not respond to desensitisation training and can be fearful of loud noises or other dogs and also be destructive and chew things they shouldn’t. Using natural remedies to support such a dog requires an element of carbohydrate for any supplements to work effectively. Obviously, in the wild, ancestors of dogs would be extremely active, cold and totally alert and over stimulated and alert in hunting mode. A pet dog’s life is very different and aspects of that, including removing a pup from their family group at weeks old, not hunting or being hungry, not needing to be on edge for survival, living indoors means we expect dog’s to adapt to that and settle against their natural instincts. It’s silly to compare dogs to those species of Wolf or hyena or other wild type because dogs started hanging around humans and eating a very different diet thousands of years ago. Modern research suggests that dogs did not descend from wolves and split from their common ancestor to have wolves and dogs evolving in different branches therefore we have to consider what a dog might fave eaten from humans’ waste food and that would not necessarily have been 100% protein/raw meat. I’ve tried both pure fats/proteins, and adding a little carbohydrate to my stressed rescue dog’s diet and she is a lot calmer and less anxious if on herbal remedies and reduced proteins supported by my vets.

  • aimee

    My own personal dog was thought to have a shunt, she didn’t, but she did have a congenital liver malformation. I was told by the specialist that i took her to that she likely wouldn’t survive past 9 months. She lived a wonderful and full life and died at 14 year of age.

    I’ve known personally of 2 shunt dogs owned by friends. The first had no signs of a problem and wasn’t diagnosed until ~5 years of age. She didn’t do well and was euthanized.

    The other friend’s dog had problems when just weeks old. That dog had surgery and is now 8 years old. She is doing great! You’d never know that she ever had a problem.

    I think each case needs to be looked at individually and sweeping generalizations should be avoided.

  • Amateria

    I’ve read a lot about the whole balanced thing recently and I think as long as it’s balanced over the week it should be fine, because most of us don’t eat complete and balanced and we’re doing just fine, the whole complete and balanced was created by Purina no doubt haha and it was used as a scare tactic to get people’s dogs onto kibble from homemade 60 or so years ago and it worked.

    Just looked up some info regarding dates and geez milkbones are old.

  • Amateria

    Milk thistle does indeed work wonders, a lot of random peeps coming here, spouting nonsense, do a little research and not just the big company websites either, in my 5 years I’ve visited almost every dog food website known to man :p.

  • Amateria

    I don’t think it’s necessarily the carb part their after though, green tripe is doggy heaven and that’s what the stomach is, it stinks as if someone left a big s**t next to you haha but if dogs like the smell (obviously they do, they eat poo and roll in it) than fine by me and it’s great nutrition and helps with digestion.

    It also wakes up older dogs like coconut oil has been proven to do, Rusty after eating food with a lot in it, is running around and playing and he’s thinking again, before he would just be there and walk there and follow my mum around, their was no heavy thinking going on, he was just alive not thriving.

  • Angela

    he was still on commercial dog food, but just canned! And I have him on dry again and he is doing just fine. Might have been that particular brand. And Milk Thistle works wonders!!

  • Diva Chloe

    I would never starve my dogs to up their appetites over ANY commercial food. Some people believe in that approach and I think it’s cruel. If one of mine are having digestive problems I might fast them for 24 hours to clear their system (under my vet’s advice) but that’s a different thing. They LOVE home cooked food but it’s so hard to keep providing something healthy for them every day, week after week. Plus there are so many recipes out there and I do not know whether they are really balanced enough.

  • Spekk

    You have shunt dogs? I seen shunt dogs and it is irresponsible to try to keep them alive, it should be illegal to keep them, the breeder must be required by law to refund every single dollar and pay the lethal injection. The suffering is great in shunt dogs, pls dont keep them.

  • Spekk

    Thats because you removed the poison called dry dog food. The thistle had nothing to do with it. Try to eat dry food for a few years yourself if you ever thought dry dog food is good for anyone.

  • Spekk

    Its best if you dont buy anything but if you have many big dogs and small family with little leftover household foods i know its not easy. But its undoubtedly the best for their appetite and well being.

    Of course you must not starve the dogs to make them eat, thats torture, trust me that the appetite comes back in time with varied normal people foods, i can say with confidence we had the healthiest dogs i know of and i know many since i used to be a “somewhat famous” person in the local dog show business.

  • Spekk

    BS, wild dogs that kill a prey ALWAYS go for the carb sources first, ie stomach contents. Its their favourite part of both moose and reindeer, just watch a moose hunt video with Scandinavian type hunting spetz dogs (elkhound, jamt, laika, whatever), after the moose is shot the dog go straight for the belly and start ripping off pelt to get to their favourite part with the hard to find valuable carbs inside, the stomach content. This is well known, no expert could have missed it, unless theyre not an expert as is the case with this article.

    I only came here because im worried about my dog refusing to eat carbs now, thats a bad sign, something is wrong with her health, dogs love and need carbs. Our dogs always had high carb diets and as little dog food as possible and reached the ages above 15 and still had lots of live left in them.

  • Angela Hirt

    I would add Milk Thistle. My dogs liver enzymes were high. But once I took him off dry food and put him on canned and added the milk thistle drops, well 3 months later, his liver enzymes were back to normal.

  • aimee

    I think that is wonderful. Here is a list of veterinary nutritionists that do consults. Your vet will need to coordinate this as it isn’t legal in many states for the nutritionist to work directly with you with our your vet’s involvement.

    http://www.acvn.org/directory/?gf_search=cases

  • Cindy Wrobel

    Thank you for sending this, its a good article and I will try contacting Dr. Center for advice.

  • Cindy Wrobel

    Thanks for the reply, I will be searching for a nutritionist to help me find what is best for him.

  • Cindy Wrobel

    Thank you for the reply, I’m pretty much at the point where I’ll be making his food, he’s such a picky eater so may just be easier to do that anyways

  • Cindy Wrobel

    Hi and thanks for the reply, I know my vet didn’t mean to imply that I caused it but said that the foods that are grain free usually means that they are higher in protein and lower in carbs and Yorkies are prone to liver issues. I should have done my research on Yorkies as I do with everything else so i do take responsibility for this issue. Now I must work to improve his diet to try to combat further issues. One study Inread stated fish was good as long as it wasn’t salmon, mackerel etc…but that cod was a good protein but now looks as
    Though that was not exactly accurate either . I may just resort to making his food so any help would be welcomed

  • aimee

    I found this: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0002961071900857

    It is only an abstract from 1971 and it is a surgical created shunt but compared horse meat to “fish fillets” ( doesn’t specify type) and milk.

    Dogs fed meat developed “meat intoxication” and survived an average of
    twenty-six days after portacaval shunt. Dogs fed fish protein also
    developed symptoms of encephalopathy but had a mean survival of
    fifty-four days. Animals fed skim milk developed no symptoms or less
    severe symptoms of protein intolerance and had a mean survival of
    sixty-eight days.

    From this “fish” looked better than red meat but still caused signs while dairy had the best outcome.

  • aimee

    Not really…but I can say that over the years I’ve never seen fish recommended for shunt dogs. ( I know Dodd’s “liver cleansing” diet recommends fish… i have no idea why) I did at some point come across something that recommended against fish due to the purine content as dogs with shunts are prone to urate stones.

    Fish in general tends to be high in purine … but soy doesn’t look to be that different in purine content from some fish and it is used as a protein source..so ??? … maybe a difference in bioavailability of the purine AA between the plant based and animal based source. I don’t have any answers only questions. Dairy always seems to be recommended over the years.

    I don’t have a source I can link to for this either, but from general reading on the topic I recall that it was assumed it was the aromatic to branched chained AA ratio that was a key factor in choosing a protein for a dog with a shunt( fish looks good on paper) but then it was found that sources with similar ratios had vastly different results when fed to shunt patients.

    I’ve read some ideas on why that could be including how a particular protein source influences the gut bacteria which then makes compounds that contribute to encephalopathic state…. it isn’t solely ammonia that causes this.

    I used to see egg recommended but now find sources backing off of egg. Used to see recommendation not to use any meat and now see chicken sometimes incorporated used as part of the mix.

    I consider Dr Center one of the countries top liver experts along with Dr. Twedt. If Dr. Center says no fish… she must have her reasons and I’d heed her advice.

  • Shawna

    That’s very interesting, aimee! I wish she/they would explain why. Have you seen any explanation from either?

  • aimee

    Hi Shawna,

    I thought I’d share with you Dr Sharon Center’s recommendations for protein sources for dogs with shunts. Dr Center is a top authority in regards to liver disease. I came across her work years ago when doing research when my previous dog was diagnosed with congenital liver malformation. She specifically advises against fish for dogs with shunts.

    “Dogs with PSVA must not be fed red meat or fish. Rather, dairy-quality
    protein, tofu-based protein and, if necessary to promote appetite, white
    meat chicken should be fed. Vegetables, popcorn, cheese, yogurt, and
    even ice cream make good treats.”

    http://americanshihtzuclub.org/liver_shunts

    Edit: This is from Merck Manuel “Red meat, fish, and organ meats must be avoided.” The article was reviewed by Dr.Sharon Center.

    http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/digestive_system/hepatic_disease_in_small_animals/portosystemic_vascular_malformations_in_small_animals.html

  • aimee

    Hi Cindy,

    i came across this article in regards to protein sources for dogs with shunts. Dr Sharron Center is well known and respected in the area of liver disorders.

    She specifically recommends to not feed fish or red meat in dogs with shunts. I don’t know if this applies to your dog but thought I’d pass it on.

    “The nutritional goal is to reduce the amount of protein in the diet and
    to modify the type of protein ingested,” says Center. “A diet specific
    for liver disease, such as a specially formulated veterinary brand, is a
    good idea. Dogs with PSVA must not be fed red meat or fish. Rather,
    dairy-quality protein, tofu-based protein and, if necessary to promote
    appetite, white meat chicken should be fed. Vegetables, popcorn, cheese,
    yogurt, and even ice cream make good treats.”

    http://americanshihtzuclub.org/liver_shunts

  • AJ Tyne

    I’m sorry I was unclear. I meant to talk to your vet about your feelings that you caused the dog’s liver problems by feeding grain-free. I just didn’t want you being so hard on yourself when the vet may not have meant it that way.

  • aimee

    Hi Cindy,
    I’m sorry that you and your dog are going through this. Like Shawna I agree that this was not caused by feeding a grain free/ high protein diet.

    Your pet’s condition sounds very serious. If your dog won’t eat the food your vet recommended then my advice is that you go back to your vet and get a different recommendation.

    For a dog with HE a commercial diet sold for normal dogs isn’t going to be the best choice and may have sources of protein that are not recommended for your dog’s condition.

    I’ve primarily seen dairy, soy, and sometimes egg as recommend protein sources for dog’s with HE.

    The level of protein that can be tolerated will be specific to your dog. The goal is to feed as much high quality protein as your dog can do well on.

  • Shawna

    If wanting a commercial kibble, 18% will be the lowest you will be able to find as that is the minimum requirement, for adult dogs, of protein in order to be sold as complete and balanced.

    Have you thought about making your own withe the guidance of a veterinary nutritionist?

  • Cindy Wrobel

    I did speak to my vet and they recommended an HE food which my dog will not eat, that is the reason I reached out to this forum for help with a higher carb/lower protein food . this suggestion from my vet was not to cure the issue but we were trying to control his seizures with diet prior to starting on medication

  • Cindy Wrobel

    Thank you, I am
    Adding boiled cod to his food but was trying to find a food lower in protein as I am adding the protein.

  • Shawna

    Feeding grains does not prevent liver disease. Feeding high protein does not cause liver disease.

    This is from UC Davis Veterinary Medicine
    “Protein restriction is NOT recommended in many cases for animals with liver disease based on evidence from research in humans. It is believed that the protein requirement may be increased and unnecessary restriction can reduce the production of important proteins like albumin. Reduced albumin concentrations puts the animal at risk for abnormal fluid accumulations, such as ascites (abdominal fluid). However, protein restriction can be crucial in treating the small number of patients with clinical signs of protein intolerance (hepatic encephalopathy or HE; see section below), but may be detrimental in patients without signs of HE.” http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/vmth/small_animal/nutrition/client_info_sheets/encephalopathy.cfm

    If your pup has a liver shunt, which is common in Yorkies, then YES lowering protein can be beneficial. It is not because the higher protein is bad in and of itself but because the liver of a pup with a shunt can’t convert the ammonia created by protein digestion to urea effectively or at all in some cases. There are low ammonia producing protein that can be fed in higher amounts to dogs with liver shunts — whitefish as an example.

  • AJ Tyne

    Perhaps you should speak to your vet about your concerns. It may well be that your dog’s diet isn’t /wasn’t the problem. Maybe it has a congenital or hereditary liver disease. Just because high carb is the way to treat it once the disease is established doesn’t necessarily mean low carb was bad and caused him to get sick. THere are many variables.

  • Shawna

    I don’t really consider options as a bad thing. As a consumer, with anything I buy, it’s up to me to research the best choices for my needs and beliefs. I do this when I buy electronics, shoes, dog food and pretty much everything else.

  • Diva Chloe

    It’s confusing and contradictory, too many conflicting opinions-and all those studies!!! I’ve decided if it’s a food my dogs will eat–frankly that IS the big issue–and it’s at least a good food by most studies, my dogs get it. If they won’t eat at $69 a case food, I’ve wasted my money and I won’t do what others say to do and starve them for days. They would only chow down out of hunger then go on strike again.The worst thing that ever happened, in my opinion, is when the dog food (and cat) industry decided to overload us all with their confusing, misleading and sometimes untruthful marketing.

  • Bill Calhoun

    Thanks Diva. We’re using Senior Acana (evening meal) and Big Dog Canine Barf Frozen Turkey during the morning feedings. Might be a bit tough for me to separate out the fat…suggestions?

  • Diva Chloe

    I have your same concern. Presumably fat content is associated with the amount of protein (animal protein that is) unless the protein can be de-fatted, but then may not be 100% defatted. I seriously doubt manufactures go that far, so it comes down to how much fat the protein has in it. When I cook for my 2 dogs I separate much of the fat out by adding ice cubes that harden the fat, then I can pick that out (or if you boil the meat, add ice to the broth and dump that when it’s hardened. The problem with manufactured foods and their disclosure of fat is that they show a “minimum” value, so what’s that supposed to tell us? I want to know the maximum fat content. Anyone else confused about this? As for carbs, don’t feed your dog entirely dry food. Mine have always gained too much weight on every brand I have tried them on.

  • Cindy Wrobel

    My Yorkie was just diagnosed with liver disease, he is 4! The vet said he needs to be on a low protein/high carb diet, this does not fit into what I’ve always been told and even the research I’ve done on grain free, high protein food. It looks like I am the cause of his medical issues by following the myth that grain free was the way to go

  • Bill Calhoun

    Hmm, and what about fat content? Should we be concerned about 50-60% fat?

  • Bill Calhoun

    Hi Kevin, thanks for dispelling that myth…BIG TIME! I’ve now switched from Honest Kitchen and Orijen to “Stewart Raw Naturals Freeze Dried” and “Primal Canine Frozen Raw Lamb”. Billy Junior (7-years young and engaged in this activity since 2-years) is highly active. We participate in obedience and M,W,F he goes on the treadmill for 2.5 hours (6.3 km per hour pace) and Tues, Thurs 1 hour (interval segments). We are stationed in Singapore so the weather does not always agree (tough to walk without getting drenched or dehydrated; thus, my carefully planned protocol of indoor activity.

    I made the switch (believe it or not) because as good as a reckon Honest Kitchen is, having a bearded mini schnauzer is an entirely different challenge, when one has to clean food from beard every meal. Adding water makes for an even larger adventure.

    Anyway, here are the changes that have occurred (we slowly introduced the change and have now been on it for 1-month), since switching over:

    1. Stools are less often. Previously he was spot-on morn, noon and night

    2. Stools are darker and less volume

    3. He appears to be napping more

    Any feedback you could offer would be greatly appreciated…or anyone else, for that matter. Please feel free to ring-in.

  • Hana Spitz

    I wasn’t thinking of doing it I was just trying to figure out if this was actually true because it makes no since to me. The crazy part is people really do feed pro plan thinking it’s the best. I have three generations back of raw fed beautiful Aussies and I don’t plan to change that. I have started giving Nupro silver to them for multiple reasons with success.
    Thanks for your reply 🙂

  • Lvshorses777

    Ok it says in moderation, every now and then on the post I’m reading now. And always cooked with no peels can help w/diegestion. But from what all I have read I’m going to stick to mostly all meat from now on and the other stuff I’ll give as treats every now and then. If at all.

  • Lvshorses777

    I’m looking for the best post about sweet potatoes they are really good for your dog, hang on I’ll find it.

  • Lvshorses777

    Please don’t listen to them, maybe they just don’t want you to win. Sugar causes diabetes and most dog foods have it in them already. I just lost my first dog to it because I listened to people saying she weighed to much and I switched her dog food to a kind that I didn’t know was full of sugar and the treats had sugar in them too and they were from the same company. And I just fed her one small bag 3.5lbs. And she died. If you want you dogs coat to grow beautiful give lots of meat and eggs. I’ll never buy store bought dog food again. Now since I have researched all of it the only thing keeping my dogs alive before was I was feeding wet and dry. I’m going to post you something good to read after I post this. You can ask me any questions you want to. I’ll help any way I can.

  • justmeKC

    there is a vein that runs on the outside of the ear, right at the edge. it is on the side of the ear towards the body, not the face. My dog, who gets frantic anywere else, doesn’t even feel this. bleeds very well, too.

  • Geri

    Thanks Kevin – I really appreciate the info. So much data to sort through and you want to do the best thing you can for your pet.

  • Kevin Stockfish

    Struvite crystals or calcium oxalates? More than likely the issue is related to struvites. Dogs are predisposed to struvites when their urine pH is too basic. Urine pH should be somewhere around 6.5. One of the main factors as to why many dogs urine pH is too basic is due to their diet lacking a sufficient meat protein content due to the diet being high in plant protein and/or carbohydrates. In order to help prevent a higher probability of struvites, it is important to increase the meat protein within the diet, as well as decrease the sources of plant protein and carbohydrates. InkedMarie definitely made some great suggestions about adding in a high moisture diet, preferably raw, but if not, dehydrated or human grade canned food. As InkedMarie stated, Honest Kitchen is a great quality dehydrated diet which is very easy to prepare, but I would recommend a GF formula (Embark, Force, Love, Zeal, etc.), because they contain a greater meat protein content and meat is inherently very acidic which will help make one’s dog urine pH more acidic. If interested in raw, Answers, Nature’s Logic, Primal and several other brands are great quality diets. If interested in canned food, Nature’s Logic, Koha (previously named Mauri), Weruva, etc. are great quality canned foods which will definitely help your situation. If interested in continuing dry food, Nature’s logic (completely synthetic free-whole food source based and is fairly small kibble size for your maltipoo)/Acana/Orijen/Open Farm are 4 great options, since they’re grain free and are significantly lower in carb content and much higher in meat protein than lower quality foods. Lastly, a probiotic would definitely be a great supplement to add, so I would recommend looking into Wholistic Pet Organics (I just had a training from the founder of this company and he knows more about small animal nutrition and supplements than most-many holistic/integrative vets carry his products in their practices due to the incredible quality). They make a formula called “Digest All Plus,” which consists of only human grade organic ingredients with no fillers. It simply sources the main digestive enzymes that are sourced from organic plant sources, as well as 2 probiotic cultures at a combined concentration of 10 billion CFU’s, which is significantly higher than most high quality human probiotic supplements. This will help your maltipoo prevent bad bacteria build up and allow only good bacteria to thrive. Good luck and hope some of our input helps! I personally would recommend researching Dr. Karen Becker (renowned holistic veterinarian) on Google and reading up on some of her articles relating to this exact issue.

  • InkedMarie

    any wet food (canned, raw, dehydrated such as The Honest kitchen) is best to feed. If you must feed dry, definitely add water and canned to it.

  • Crazy4cats

    Hi Geri-
    Sorry to hear about your pup’s bladder infections. They are probably painful for her. You are right about getting more water in her system to help keep her urine diluted and the crystals flushed. Adding canned to any kibble is always a good idea in my opinion along with some warm water. As far as the Rx food is concerned, I would feed it at least until the infections and crystals are under control. Preferably the canned version if she’ll eat it. Will she drink out of a fountain? Also, I started feeding my cat with the issue three smaller meals per day to help balance out his pH levels.
    Getting rid of the infection, more water and a lot of bathroom breaks are really important. Good luck!

  • Geri

    I have a 12# maltipoo who has a tendancy to have bladder infections – the vet said she had a high level of crystals in her bladder which caused irritation of the lining thus causing the infections. She recommended a prescription food – I do not like it. I have been thinking about adding Cranberry D-Mannose to her diet and looking for another dog food. She doesn’t like to drink water and that is, I think, one of the problems. Is there a good dog food I could perhaps mix with a little canned food to make her want to drink more? Any recommendations?

  • Ronnie Jones

    It’s very simple once you know the corporate bastards who run most of the world…. sick dogs are good for business just as sick people… the pet food industry, the vets and especially the drug Companies. Dogs should eat meat, animal fat, organs, tendons, bone, the hide…. the entire animal.. raw or cooked. But these corporate agents will be all over these sites just as they are on the human health sites…. Dogs are getting the same diseases as people because they’re eating what people eat…. we’re all just sick animals to be milked to death

  • Sarah Schoenberger Lindeman

    Orijen has 30% carbs. EVO has 21% carbs that’s the lowest dry dog food I could find.

  • Hana Spitz

    Yeah I had the same thought, very interesting. I bought some zinc to add to her diet. Maybe some biotin too. 🙂

  • theBCnut

    Well, I haven’t heard that one before. Oils make the coat shine and the hair itself is made of protein, so I can’t imagine that sugar would do much to grow coat, but it did make me think about how hair and nails continue to grow for a short time after death. Maybe all the sugar is killing the dogs.

  • Hana Spitz

    So this is probably completely false but I’m curious of others opinions. I show Aussies and have been told by others that sugar grows coat. So if the carbs are a littler high in a food it will help grow and maintain a more full/longer coat. People swear by this…. Opinions?
    Thanks!!