Dogs and Carbohydrates — A Surprising Secret Revealed

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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. 

Dogs simply don’t need any carbohydrate ingredients — at all.

Yet surprisingly, “carbs” represent the dominant ingredient 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

The Numbers Aren’t Even Close

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

It looks like the pet food industry may have taken advantage of the dog’s remarkable ability to adapt to just about anything.

Doesn’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. 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
  • Shawna

    Thanks!! :) Yes, Mimi is a bit of a naughty little creature and because of that we opted to adopt her. I still actually consider her a foster dog because of her naughty streak but she isn’t going anywhere so…. She bites if she doesn’t her way. She won’t bite me any longer but I’m afraid she would others. She was turned in to a kill shelter in Denver three separate times before rescue got hold of her. :(

    You are absolutely right and I am very thankful. That said, I actually like a good debate and have even conceded to being wrong a few times.. I suppose it happens to the best of us. :)

    I’m, obviously, in the “real” food camp but I do have to feed kibble to make things affordable. I don’t think kibble is “bad”, just that nutrition from whole foods is ideal.

    Dog nutrition confuting — YES.. Even the experts can’t agree.. :) A source I often quote recommends moderate protein but real food. Another real food/high protein. Another real/high, balance over time. It’s no wonder there’s confusion and heated debates.. :)

    I had heard about that book and have it in my Amazon “wish list”. Thanks so much for the recommendation. It will be my next purchase!!

  • theBCnut

    You made a lot of assumptions about what I meant and then stated that I said it. To me that’s a reading comprehension issue, unless your point is to try and convince Dr. Mike that I’m saying there is no actual knowledge or truth in the whole website, which I did not say, nor do I in any way believe. What I did say was that, he does not have to prove everything in his blog, but he does a very good job of presenting the evidence anyway.

    Sorry, if you felt I was being mean. I felt you were twisting my words on purpose. If that was not your intent, then I am truly sorry I took it that way. On the other hand, if that was your intent, maybe you would be better serve looking elsewhere.

  • Jessica

    That was a really rude comment and entirely uncalled-for. I stated honestly that I had not read the About section and I thanked you for pointing out my error. I wasn’t being sarcastic; I was admitting that you are correct and I was apologizing for my error. You don’t need to be nasty to me. Perhaps having an adult conversation isn’t your thing.

  • Jessica

    It’s great to hear that the obese Papillon mix lost weight and hopefully she is healthier and happier than when she came to the rescue!

    Looking at the big picture, we should be thankful we live in a world where we can quibble about what percentages of carbs our dogs should be eating! To think of all the dogs who are surviving off garbage right this minute makes me sad (not to mention it makes this whole argument seem superfluous!) After all, this is a blog and blogs are, indeed, works of opinion. I had completely forgotten that because in my head I consider this site a knowledge base (because of the food reviews). Thus, in my head, I guess I was holding it to the same strict standards I hold everything to in my world (science!) It’s probably a little too strict at times!

    The whole field of dog nutrition argument is pretty interesting to me, and often confuding! I just feed my dog (and my mom’s 5 dogs) 4- and 5-star foods from this site’s ratings and hope that’s good enough!

    As a side note, if you’re interested in dog behavior, there is a book called The Genius of Dogs that I highly recommend! It was a fun and enlightening read.

  • theBCnut

    Perhaps reading comprehension isn’t your thing.

  • Shawna

    1. I do understand what you are saying but as Patty mentioned, Mike makes no bones about his articles being based on his opinion. What blog isn’t though?

    2. I think the words sensible and estimate mean something different to you then they do to me.

    Interesting to me how people of science start refuting the science when it doesn’t conform to their belief system (myself included).

    This is my real world experience. I had a 30 pound OBESE Papillon mix come in to rescue. Her vet felt she was too fat to exercise (in our heat and humidity). When she lost enough weight, there was snow on the ground. She lost over 16 pounds on a very high protein diet with minimal exercise — high protein kibble (like Orijen) with low carb canned and commercial low carb raw as toppers.

    I currently have eight dogs all eating very high protein including an 18 year old four pound blind Chihuahua (who has eaten raw since we got her from the Humane Society nine years ago).

    Going at this a different way — what about the dogs’ anatomy would make one think they are particularly suited to a diet higher in starch? Can they eat it, yes. Can a cat eat it, some manufacturers have proven cats can too. But is it what is healthiest for them? Is it what their digestive system is designed to eat? Let’s take this beyond starch. Is a highly processed dried pelleted food what dogs evolved to eat? Kibble is really quite new in their evolutionary history. Quite new.

    As previously stated, I feel certain carbs are beneficial to the canine due to the nature of the world we currently live in. But I don’t think potatoes, peas, legumes, wheat, barley, rice etc are as beneficial as pet food manufacturers and their science would like us to believe. Especially in the amounts often seen in many kibbled diets.

    It is true that a lot of people come to this site because of an issue with their pup but some of them stick around to help others. Many others come here to find other like minded individuals. Others have healthy pups but come here to evaluate foods so they can hopefully keep their pups healthy. I came here for the like minded individuals and for the thought provoking debates. :) Luckily, my day job allows me the time to spend on here without cutting into my time with my dogs, grand kids, offline friends etc. :)

    I too am thankful people care so deeply about their pets!!!

  • Jessica

    You’re absolutely right and thanks for the clarification. I had not read the “About” section (or perhaps I read it years ago and forgot about it). I had never stopped to think that this is actually a blog. I consider the dog food reviews to be pretty accurate and the “star ratings” to be fair based on the evidence, so I approached the “blog” with the wrong attitude entirely. I approached it as another venue for sharing knowledge. However, you are correct: it is a blog, and not a knowledge base. You’re also definitely correct that I have no reason to expect there to be any truth in anything that is defined as a “blog”. Since I’m looking for evidence-based guidelines for my dog’s health, I’m clearly better-served looking elsewhere. Thank you for pointing out my error.

  • theBCnut

    Anybody who reads the “About” section, or anywhere else for long, will find this statement written by Dr. Mike.

    “The Dog Food Advisor is a personal blog written and edited by me. The views and opinions expressed here are presented in good faith and are strictly my own.”

    Blogs are, by nature, the author’s opinion, and nobody has to justify their opinion on their own blog. Anybody that decides that a blog opinion is “fact” without doing their own research probably shouldn’t be on the internet anyway. I think Dr. Mike goes pretty far in expressing why he believes his opinion is correct, but generally speaking, he really leaves it up to the reader to make up their own mind.

  • Jessica

    1. Exactly my point. It is a judgment call, and it is not necessarily appropriate to impose one’s judgment call upon the readers. You agree with them; that’s a judgment call. Judgment calls are not
    evidence-based. If you understand what I’m trying to say by now, I think it’s pointless for me to continue “beating a dead horse.”

    2. When you state something as “fact” and cite a source, you are assuming that the source is correct. Otherwise, you wouldn’t state it as fact. The point is that Mike is assuming that 14%
    is the amount of carbohydrates in dogs’ ancestors’ diet, and he is using that assumption to state that carbohydrate levels in current dog foods are too high. I’m not arguing that dogs do need carbohydrates in their diet. I’m questioning the veracity of the author’s statement that current levels of carbohydrates in pets’ diets are what’s shaving years of life from our pets.

    3. Honestly, I did not expect to have to go and do hours’ worth of research, nor do I have the time to do so at the moment (my PhD qualifying exams are next week). I
    almost didn’t comment on the article at all because I know the internet is filled with people who vehemently argue in one direction and fervently believe their own side in the absence of truly unbiased evidence review. I can’t argue that a high-protein, low-carb diet won’t help a domestic dog lose weight – there is remarkably little research available to make a claim either way.
    I could only find a few relevant articles other than the 2002 article
    you source. The first, published in 2010 (PMID 19138868), suggests that a high protein, high fiber diet is better for weight loss than a high protein, moderate fiber diet. The second is a 2004 paper (PMID 15059242) that examined various blood parameters of obese beagles on a high protein or a
    high fiber diet; they concluded no importance differences between the two and suggested that the high protein is a safe method for weight loss. A 2007 article (PMID: 18196727) suggests that a high protein, high fiber diet improves satiety in obese dogs better than
    either a high protein, moderate fiber or a moderate protein, high fiber diet. These are all randomized controlled trials; a word of caution about RCTs is that they generally have poor generalizability.
    That means that the results of the trial may not generalize well to “real-life” situations outside the lab. Also, RCTs are short-lived – all of these investigated short-term weight loss; I think the longest follow-up period was 3 months.
    So, a high protein diet may be more efficient for short-term weight
    loss, but these studies don’t tell us anything about long-term effects of these types of diets. I also found this 2013 review (PMID: 23925042) about alternative dietary fiber sources that may be of interest to some readers who may happen upon this conversation. I have only read the abstracts of these
    articles – I’m sorry I didn’t spend more time on them; this is a really interesting topic to me and I have bookmarked it for further investigation but my qualifying
    exams are a huge priority for me right now. [By the way, PMID is an identifier for articles indexed in the Pubmed database. You can just put the number in the search bar at http://www.pubmed.gov and the article abstract will pop up].

    I found two articles that discuss canine evolutionary pressure and its influence of domestic dogs’ genetics (PMID 23673645
    and PMID 23354050). It’s not that I “like to suggest there has been some profound change in the dog making the domestic dogs’ diet vastly different from the wolf.”
    It’s that it is true that the domestic dog has specific genetic
    differences from the wolf. The
    domestication process almost ensures that; try searching for the major research still being conducted in Russia on fox domestication. Aside from the science, it is a very dramatic
    story of incredibly dedicated scientists who pursued their search for the truth through incredible hardships. Their research has probably done more than any other to inform us about the process
    of domestication.

    My efforts today support my belief there truly is a dearth of evidence on this topic. My opinion hasn’t changed: there simply isn’t enough evidence to suggest that carbohydrates in moderation, as part of a proper diet that meets all a dogs’ protein, fat, vitamin, and mineral needs, are harmful for dogs.

    Finally, you are right about one thing. I do not spend hours every day perusing the comments on this forum (though I do occasionally read them!) However, I do understand that the sample of
    individuals’ comments you are reading is a biased one. MOST people have healthy dogs with allergy, skin, digestive, etc. issues. MOST people, therefore, do not spend an extensive amount of time on the website. They probably use it like I do; as a reliable source of evidence for the quality of many, many different dog foods (the most extensive and well-curated source available, I believe!) The minority whose poor pets are plagued with allergies, etc., are much more likely to spend hours on this website in search of a cure for their pets’ suffering. Those are the individuals who are commenting frequently – either to
    comment about a food that works or doesn’t work or to ask for advice. Indeed, if one stops to read all the comments, one gets the impression that most dogs in America are sick. Some dogs are sick, and some of those dogs
    can be cured with some sort of special dietary regimen. I feel thankful to live in a country where
    people care enough about their pets’ well-being to keep this website alive and kicking!

  • Shawna

    1. Mike says the source is sensible. It is a judgement call. If you disagree, you disagree. I am familiar with the work of Mike’s source, Steve Brown, and I would agree with Mike that the source is sensible/logical. You, admittedly, haven’t reviewed any of the data to make a determination.

    2. Mike reported the NRC as one source but he’s not assuming anything unless other seemingly credible sources, like Waltham, are not as credible as we are lead to believe. Waltham pocket book of essential nutriton for cats and dogs page 28 “Cats and dogs can sythesise their own blood glucose from amino acids. Carbohydrate, therefore is not an essential macronutrient. However, if provided in their diet, cats and dogs can utilise carbohydrates and they are used in pet foods as sources of energy and dietary fibre.” http://www.waltham.com/dyn/_assets/_pdfs/waltham-booklets/Essentialcatanddognutritionbookletelectronicversion.pdf

    Purina Research has data as well http://www.purinavets.eu/PDFs/ResearchReport_vol8-issue2.pdf

    3. Folks like to suggest there has been some profound change in the dog making the domestic dogs’ diet vastly different from the wolf. And heaven help the couch potato on a high protein diet, right? BUT, The Journal of Nutrition put that “assumption” to rest. “High-Protein Low-Carbohydrate Diets Enhance Weight Loss in Dogs” Quite high in protein at 52% to boot. http://nutrition.highwire.org/content/134/8/2087S.full

    And “Weight Loss in Obese Dogs: Evaluation of a High-Protein, Low-Carbohydrate Diet” http://jn.nutrition.org/content/132/6/1685S.full

    There’s also been discoveries that high protein (I’m not sure of the amount) benefits the kidneys.
    “Kenneth C. Bovée, DVM, MMedSc
    Department of Clinical Studies
    School of Veterinary Medicine
    University of Pennsylvania
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Evidence that high protein diets enhance renal function in normal dogs has led to confusion among veterinarians who have been told for decades that low protein diets may be beneficial for kidney function.” http://www.dogaware.com/files/bovee.pdf

    I do agree, and advocate, for the right kinds of carbohydrates in the diet to help counter the toxins in daily life. That said, the starches used to bind kibbles are not the right kinds. And many a dog has sensitivities to those starches. You would see that if you spent any real time on this site reading member posts.

    I understand your desire for research but you apparently haven’t been reading all the available research on the topic.

  • Jessica

    1. I object to the use of the word “sensible” to describe the source. Who says it’s sensible? What does sensible mean to the author? To the readers?

    2. Let us take the idea that dogs don’t “need” carbohydrates and assume it is true. The author assumes this because he presumes that the NRC does not deem carbs as important enough in a dog’s diet to produce minimum requirements (as it does for protein and fat, which clearly dogs need). The author admits that carbs are not harmful, but believes that the quantities in today’s dog foods are inappropriately high. That’s the point of his article. He thinks they are inappropriately high because he’s comparing them to an “estimate” from a questionable source. So, the “estimate” – and by nature its credibility – has EVERYTHING to do with the article.

    3. People might take away from this article that since dogs don’t “need” carbs, why not feed them a diet of solely protein and fat? Heck, let’s keep 14% carbs in the diet since that’s what their “ancestors” consumed. But wait, who are these ancestors? Wolves, I presume. The assumption that a domestic dog’s diet should be equivalent to wolves’ diets is questionable for several reasons. One reason is that dogs have undergone incredible selective evolutionary pressure over the last 15,000 years. There is no reason to assume that their digestive system (that is, the genetics underlying this and all body functions) haven’t changed during that evolutionary process. There is good reason to think that selective genetic mutations may exist in domestic dogs that allow them to digest carbohydrates (read: leftovers from humans they evolved alongside) better than wolves can. The second reason is that dogs’ lives are very, very different from wolves’ lives. The average dog spends a lot more time lounging in the comfort of a home and lives up to twice as long as the average wild wolf. Does a human marathoner have the same nutritional requirements as someone who works at a computer desk all day? Domestic dogs and wild wolves probably have different nutritional needs.

    Thus, even if we assume that the dogs do not “need” carbohydrates, that doesn’t translate to the idea that “carbohydrates are bad” or even that anything over 14% is too much. All the solid evidence I have been able to uncover suggests that as long as the minimum requirements or protein and fat are met (with the proper variation of amino acids, omega 3s and 6s etc.), a normal, healthy dog shouldn’t have deficiencies. (Yes, some dogs have allergies and specific needs…but not most dogs and I’m talking the “average” dog).

    To me, it seems like the author set out to prove his point and included whatever information he could found to back up his point. This biased way of performing research is a dangerous one; instead of considering all the reliable evidence available (or, for instance, ranking the evidence in terms of quality), the author seems to have chosen a source at random because the source helps “prove his point.” The internet is now rampant with articles that are written this way and it is not an appropriate way to disseminate information.

  • Shawna

    I’m not sure how an “estimate” from what the author considers a sensible source really deters from the theme of the article — dogs don’t need any carbs in their diet.

  • Jessica

    It’s not that I don’t believe he’s a credible source. I can’t say that because I haven’t read his book and don’t know anything other than what’s on his website biography. In the scientific community, we usually establish “levels of evidence” – the highest level would be guidelines based on high-quality research studies, then somewhere under that are guidelines established by consortia of “experts” (e.g. veterinarians), and at the bottom would be a recommendation established by a single “expert.” Again, I haven’t read his book because I just learned of his existence today. Maybe he quotes guidelines that are high-up on the evidence tiers. But if it’s just his word, based on his experience, then it’s a low level of evidence.

  • Betsy Greer

    You’re referring to Steve Brown. You don’t believe that he’s a credible source of information?

  • Jessica

    While I rely on Dog Food Advisor as the best dog food rating source currently available, some of these articles leave a lot to be desired. For instance, this one states: “One sensible source estimates natural carbohydrate consumption for a dog’s ancestors at around 14 percent of total diet.” I checked the references and the “sensible source” is a book written a man who developed his own breed of dog and, in the process, developed a specific feeding regimen which he now sells. I don’t have access to the book, so I can’t check the sources. However, it is important for all informed dog owners to understand that there is a lot of information that gets accepted as “truth” without appropriate evidence. A “well-accepted” individual starts touting specific percentages and suddenly they become gospel. Clearly, the biggest issue with dog nutrition is that – like human nutrition – there is no “gold standard.” Readers of these articles should be keen to check the references and decide for themselves how much faith to put in the information.

  • theBCnut

    Freezing kills parasites, but does a whole lot less damage to nutrients. Most dogs can handle any possible bacterial contamination without any difficulty at all. Dogs were made to eat raw meat and do extremely well on it.

  • dogwhisperer

    please pleaseee reconsider. cooking fully at high temperatures kills any parasites that could infect your animal.

  • Shawna

    Dr. Mike asked this conversation be moved off the “Coming Soon — The….” thread. I thought this was a good place to continue the conversation.

    Ross C wrote “Yes I know about certain Irish Setters but it is not clear it is actually Celiac. Irish Setters are not a popular breed so I did not mention it. Stop saying dogs react to gluten because it is totally false. Barley has gluten and barley has among the lowest allergy rates of anything a dog could possibly eat. Commercialize wheat is a known allergan but statistically you are talking about 1 in 10,000 dogs and its not gluten related. So stop making it sound like it is a major issue for dogs in the general population because it just isn’t.”

    “Not clear it is actually Celiac” — how so?

    “Stop saying dogs react to gluten because it is totally false. Barley has gluten and barley has amoung the lowest allergy rates….”

    But I’m not talking about “allergies” Ross. I’m specifically talking about lectins which cause an intolerance or hypersensitivity. And my dog Audrey reacts to barley – I fed her barley due to it’s fermentable fiber which is beneficial with kidney disease. Only it did more harm than good. I also have a lot of exposure to other dogs and am aware of many that react to ALL of the grains considered “gluten” grains.

    Can you please show the science based statistics to back up your comments – regarding intolerance or hypersensitivities not allergies as I agree with you about true allergies?

  • Jennifer Mitsuk

    have you tried raw? We don’t cook our dog food

  • Wendy Gratrix

    Mia hates the surf and turf but loves Beef Fritatta

  • snomaes

    Irrelevant nonsense and adds nothing to the debate!

  • Tracey Atkinson-Bagatta

    Have you done an actual BLOOD allergy panel? I would get a HESKA screen – it’s a couple hundred dollars, but it will nail down food and environmental allergies. If you wash his bedding use an anti-fungal pet shampoo rather than regular detergent. Has your vet discussed Atopica? Do you use any topical flea/tick preventatives? That might be an issue. Omega 3 and coconut oil is very beneficial for dogs with skin issues

  • Tracey Atkinson-Bagatta

    Pits are notorious for skin allergies… environmental are usually the biggest cause… potatoes next… then grains. I would make sure you use a potato free food…. actually, once I took my dogs – 2 pits one border collie – off of DRY food, they showed amazing results. We use Grandma Lucy’s Pureformsnce.

  • Pingback: Tummy Troubles – Kibble, Carbs or Dairy? | Phoebe's Tails()

  • Tina Diedrichsen

    Which diet of Fromm’s did you like the best. I have been feeding grain free Fromm treats for quite some time. I just ordered my first bag of Fromm’s Grain Free Surf and Turf. Wondering how it has worked for others too.

  • Debbie DiFrancesco

    thank u for all this great info, I have a beautiful male pit, he had skin problems when younger, started him on taste of the wild, grain free, he did really well until the recall, not that we got any of the bad bags, but I changed it.. we went to earthborn grain free – did very well also.. then my brother mentioned nutro grain free venison which he is on now.. no skin or other problems but i still wonder if i could do better by him…we are active as out and running daily, he is …not me lol (to old) I still search for info. my last American Staffie had passed due to cancer cells throughout her body, I do not want that to happen to him.. I was not educated enough yrs ago and I feel I could of done better for my girl… I will not make that mistake again no matter what the price.. a dogs life is worth more than the garbage commercial food …. thank u again and thank u Dog food Advisor

  • Shawna

    Interesting analogy but I’m not sure how that has any relevance when discussing the ideal diet for a cat and dog?

  • Valerie Spinner

    If eating human babies was part of their ancestral diet, I am sure that would not be logical despite their digestive tracts staying the same. Of course they wouldn’t be our best friends now either, they would be close to extinction.

  • jrenee

    Last January we adopted a 14-year-old rescue Tibetan Terrier who had serious skin issues and constant infections in her eyes and ears–I think it might have influenced her owners’ decision to get rid of her. We have had her on Fromm’s wheat-free food since March. Some of the Fromm’s we feed her has barley, rice, oatmeal and flaxseed, and some is totally grain-free. All treats are grain-free and the protein is all US-raised poultry (chicken, duck, pheasant, turkey). She went from being seemingly almost blind (the trainer remarked she walked by following the edges of perimeters), seemingly deaf, very scratchy and very sad, to the most joyful, happy and healthy little dog with lots of energy for a 14-yr-old. Even her sebaceous cysts have subsided. I suppose a stable, joyful home might help, but our 4-year-old Tibetan is on the same diet, and her mild skin allergies and sebaceous cysts are also completely gone. It totally convinced me that, at the very least, I shouldn’t feed these dogs anything with wheat in it.

  • Franck Carle

    This is the reason why I feed with Nutram grain free, low glycemic index, 0% potatos

  • sanne

    To many carbs cause cancer in humans and in our animals!

  • Patti

    They need to eat their ancestral diet because their digestive tract from teeth to colon haven’t changed despite them moving in with us humans. You’re right about the processed foods/disease link and human laziness though!

  • yoyomart

    Thank you. that is true I will take her from blood work.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Two things. The symptoms for kidney disease are also drinking more and urinating more, so please make sure you have a proper diagnosis. And Dr. Karen Becker has an excellent book to help people who want to start making their own dog food called “Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats.” You can find it on Amazon.

  • yoyomart

    I have a question. I know carbs are hard on people. ( I was a diabetic and went on a low carb diet and now I am not.) My yokie is showing sign of diabetics ( drinking more water and urinating for often). I decided to make my own food for her. I cooked and ground up chicken and beef. added some egg and some cooked broccoli. I also added a dog multi vitamin and supplement for hip and joint care. She is 14. I was wondering if there is more I need to put into her food to make it healthy for her.

  • Privacyisencouraged

    As much as I don’t agree that dogs should be eating cheap sources of carbohydrate, I also don’t think it is fair to our dogs to feed them in the way we believe their ancestors ate. For one, our house dogs do not live the way their ancestors did whatsoever. They live comfortably in our homes, they don’t have to chase down their prey for miles, they don’t have to live through the type of extremes that a wild dog would have to. So why do we think they need to eat a wild dog’s diet? I believe that the commercial dog food is what is causing all of the cancer and disease and that dogs would benefit from better sources of nutrition, but people are lazy (because of their poor diets) and aren’t going to grind up organic quails and mix them with pureed kale and vitamins. So this is just a comment….not an answer to the problem.

  • PeaJay

    What you describe here is adaptation for short bursts of survival. Big difference between surviving and thriving.

  • Peajay

    That’s actually not true about canids eating the stomach contents of herbivore prey. It was once thought they did, but observational research has shown that except in extreme conditions (severe lack of prey to hunt), the digestiin organs remain virtually untouched and are left with the larger bones for carions and scavengers (vultures, hyenas, insects, etc.)

  • t&y

    How about more of a variety – not just proteins and raw; try cooked beef/chicken/fish and cooked vegetables plus brown rice, sweet potatoes, oats, etc. Variety is the key. Even in the wild, dogs eat the digested grains in the stomachs of animals who eat seeds/grains/fruit/etc. My dog gets a huge variety of food including yogurt and cottage cheese. Can your dog be allergic to something else? Febreeze? Something synthetic? Loneliness? I know you want him to be healthy and happy. I had problems, too, until I started home cooking for my sweet Boxer. The vet wanted to euthanize him (he is a rescue), and I took him home and started cooking. Now people stop me to ask if they can breed him. The raw thing was too dangerous and not quite right in my opinion, although I tried it for a few weeks. It’s different catching fresh prey compared to frozen meat anyway. Dogs in the wild don’t always catch prey – they live on grasses, bark, dirt, berries, anything they can scrounge when necessary. My dogs gets 3 meals a day. Best of luck to you! It’s hard for people to find the healthiest foods for themselves nowadays – it’s no surprise that we are worried about what to feed our loving animals! Namaste :)

  • LabsRawesome

    Sounds like a site aimee would like & agree with. Lol, sorry aimee…..

  • Pattyvaughn

    I read one that rated RC very highly, but their criteria were definitely not my criteria. They didn’t care about ingredients at all. They were really impressed with having their own facilities, feeding trials, etc. They gave a large number of points to things that I thought were nice but not essential and gave very few points for things that I thought mattered a lot. They actually took away points for things that I thought were ridiculous. I personally thought that the whole rating system was geared toward certain foods.

  • LabsRawesome

    Yeah, something doesn’t add up there. Royal Canin is probably more like a C. I personally don’t use sites like that, but I have seen quite a few of them. :)

  • Betsy Greer

    Ah ha! Thanks, Labs! Without really studying their criteria, it seems to make sense. Their scores seem to be fairly consistent with some of the foods that I’m familiar with, but what’s crazy is that somehow Royal Canin gets A+ on all three varieties that are listed on the site.

  • LabsRawesome

    Hi Betsy, it was probably taken from here, or a similar site. At the top they give their ratings system, scroll down for some brands that are already rated. http://www.elkcountryanimalshelter.org/GradeDOG%20FOOD.html

  • Betsy Greer

    Hi Joan,

    I’m curious about the “dog food scores” you mention in your post. Who scores the foods and what are the criteria for scoring. Do the scores have something to do with veterinary dermatology? You’ve really piqued my curiosity!

  • Joan Chovit

    USDA organic coconut oil has many wonderful uses and one is for itching. check online. they suggest 1/4 tsp. per 10 lbs of dogs weight. I’ve taken care of dogs for 22 yrs and suggest starting w/just the 1/4 tsp ignoring the weight. Increase slowly and watch that bowel movement stays normal. Buffalo & Venison are 2 other available proteins. The raw food diet includes vegetables, fat and eggs (another protein). Are you sure it’s the protein and not something else in the diet or environmental. Vegies should be organic because pesticides cause problems. Here’s a brand that for its Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance Venison & Brown Rice scored a 122 A+ dog food score. Natures Recipe Healthy Skin Venison & Rice and Timberwolf Organic Wild & Natural Dry food. Last Wolfking Adult Dog (bison) by Solid Gold. All scored 100 points or above. I have a pamphlet for VetMaintenance and VetCustom Diets. Available through Redbank Veterinary Hospital’s Clincal Nutrition Dept. at 732-747-3636. Also check online for a dog dermatologist. There’s a directory for this but I can’t find the site name. Hope this helps.

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  • Storm’s Mom

    Have you tried rabbit or kangaroo? Nature’s Variety Instinct and Nature’s Logic both have a rabbit kibble. Addiction and California Natural have a kangaroo kibble.

  • Shawna

    WOW, that’s crazy!! I’ve never heard of a dog being reactive to almost every available protein…

    First question, is the diet balanced? What exactly do you feed besides the turkey muscle meat? Did he have issues when you got him from the breeder?

    Not at all sure why someone down voted your comment by the way??????

  • Rambo’s mummy

    My 20 months old golden boy is strictly on raw and the only meat he can tolerate is raw turkey. Any other common meat like lamb/mutton/beef/chicken/duck/tuna/salmon and he would burst out in hotspots.
    Even then he will still have some skin problems like little red bumps on him and would scratch himself silly. Well at least he is slightly better than before when he was eating other raw meat than raw turkey.
    I’ve been to the vet and spent lots of money trying to find a cure for my boy but still the same.
    Can anyone tell me what I can do for my boy so he won’t be stricken with skin problems?
    Thanks all.

  • Pattyvaughn

    No, mushy is not healthy for dogs and I don’t feel at my best either. Fiber should increase volume, which is not the same thing as mushy.

  • Ozmosis

    Mushy is colon healthy for humans and animals. Having said that, there are ways and means to achieve that with low carb veggies (as a diabetic who minimises carbs for good glucose control I can attest to that).

  • Shawna

    A thought I just had… :) Tapioca is higher in starch than other sources of carbs. Because of this, can the manufacturer use considerably less tapioca than say if using rice? A dog food only needs so much starch to be able to bind properly. The remaining “carbs” in the food could come from less to non-starchy vegetables. I wish I knew more about manufacturing!!

  • Shawna

    I agree with HDM. When grains are simply replaced at the same ratio by potato or legumes or another starch there is minimal if any benefit.

    There is low glycemic tapioca but I don’t know if the process they use to make it low glycemic devalues the food in any way – or worse, makes it toxic? Or if that source of tapioca is even available for kibbled foods? Like HDM mentions, tapioca doesn’t add much nutrition to the diet and some foods may require more synthetic supplements due to this.

    My guess is that jicama doesn’t have enough starch as I too have never seen it used alone. I would like it if it could be used though. My dogs like jicama :).. Jicama, and tapioca, has a much better all be it low omega 6 to 3 ratio than does grains.

    I think the best option is to rotate between higher protein foods that use different sources of starch so as not to overload the body with any one source. Nature’s Logic (millet), Nature’s Variety Instinct (tapioca), Orijen (lentils/legumes) etc.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    In my opinion the carbohydrate sources being used in the new grain-free foods hitting the market are marginally better than grains. It’s true that many if these new carbohydrate sources are gluten free, some lower on the glycemic index and less likely to be contaminated with mycotoxins – but most don’t offer any nutritional benefit either. Legumes, like grains, contain anti-nutrients such as phytic acid and lectins and, due to their high protein content, it’s becoming increasingly common to see manufacturers using legumes to boost the overall protein content of a formula without the addition of more meat. Tapicoa, like white potato, is high glycemic and, for the most part, devoid of any real nutritional value. I have not yet seem jicama used as a sole starch source in a dry food – why brand is using jicama? The fact remains, regardless of what starch source used in kibble – dogs have no dietary requirement for carbohydrates.

  • George Richter

    I’ve been selling pet food for the past 8 years and my comments are based on the impression not on scientific data.
    We acquire many customers due to the ailments that I feel are clearly caused by foods that super high in carbs. It is apparent that as each year passes we hear of more and more incidents of pancreatitus, diabetes, and obesity (all of which bring along other health problems).
    It is clear that dogs can survive on diets full of carbs and not all dogs suffer the ailments associated with these diets but it seems clear that with the increase of these highly processed, high carbohydrate, DRY matter diets have brought along many issues.
    I feel our goal should be to seek foods that are most appropriate for our companions not simply decide if they can survive or even adapt.
    It is also very obvious to me when a dog enters our store which dogs are eating good diets and which are eating typical commercial poor quality diets. Most obvious being the dull dry coat and dander. Isn’t skin the largest organ. I have to think that it is a huge red flag when the skin is unhealthy.
    Lastly the manufacturing of kibble has a number one priority of making it convenient and stable for people and then second priority for a few companies is making something healthy. Unfortunately priority number one already veers from a ideal diet. Carbs are the solution for manufacturers and the demise of the quality and health for the dogs.
    That is my opinion!

  • George Richter

    Do you have any thoughts about various types of new carbs being used in grain free foods that are also potatoe free. ie. lentils, tapioca, jicama?

  • LabsRawesome

    Loose bowls?? Haha,that’s a good one. Yes, loose bowls are very inconvenient. I like my dog’s bowls to be very tight. lol I have never heard that sweet potatoes rid dogs of worms either, probably because it’s not true.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Well, that’s one I hadn’t heard before.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kate.bessette Kate Bessette

    I have found that sweet potatoes co be very helpful to a dogs diet because they rid your dog of parasites and worms of any kind . but you do have to be careful how much they get because they can cause loose bowls , that are very inconvenient … Cheese can tighten the stool . so can soda crackers … My Shetland Collie loves the sweet potatoes added to his meat diet or as treats …<3
    Can you give us a reasons why they control the worms and parasites ?

  • katie

    That is SO right! I recently have researched what dog food really is, including the best of the best like you, and have found that its all pretty much bad. After putting my golden on raw I noticed a huge improvement! He was limping badly before, his coat was sparce, his skin was bad and I put him on a diet of raw meats, bones and eggs and he has stopped limping, his coat is full and lush, and he is filling out beautifully!

  • http://twitter.com/odysseykennel Gayle Ramirez

    As someone who has worked in the pet industry for better 1/2 of 30 years plus raised show dogs for many years, I can tell you that the more grain in a dogs diet the more issues the people have. I see it daily at work from the obese to the health to the skin issues. Most when put on a diet with a higher meat less grain or grain free ,especially where skin issues are concerned,clear up. But it also is the quality of the product that the dog food company uses. If you talk to any breeder who can afford to do a home made natural diet you will find their dogs have way less health issues.

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  • Pattyvaughn

    Some call them facultative carnivores, some call them omnivores with a carnivorous bias, either way, they do better on a diet rich in meat protein and they do not require carbs at all.

  • ChrissyB

    I am surprised by so many comments on the dog food debate (not necessarily on here) refer to dogs as carnivorous – they are not – they are omnivorous – and in fact so are their ancestors the wolves. Though they are both of the order Carnivora.

  • losul

    So when you give rats warfarin, most of them bleed to death, or die from secondary health problems, but there is always some that are a bit more tolerant to it and somehow survive. Some of the offspring might then be even a bit more tolerant than their parents, while many others will still always succumb to the poison. Given enough generations, time, and LOTS of dead rats, eventually more of the rats will have adapted to the poisonings, and will pass on genetic resistances/adaptations/mutations to their offspring

    Even though many of todays rats have adapted somewhat to the poisons, and warfarin is not as reliable a killer, there are still many rats that succumb to it, in more ways than one.

    While dogs have adapted somewhat more so to starches than their predecessors, there are still lots of dogs paying the consequences.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    “Realist”, “Wake-Up” and “Dogs Luv Starch”…

    Your use of multiple identities as evidenced by your comments posted here today using three different monikers and various email addresses from the same computer IP address is a violation of Our Commenting Policy.

    This rule clearly states:

    “…the use of multiple identities or other deceptive tactics designed to mislead readers are strictly forbidden.”

    Because you have violated the rules of this community, you are no longer welcome here and all of your comments using these fake identities have been removed.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    As much as you spam Dr. Mike’s site posting under several different names the fact still remains that dogs have no dietary requirement for carbohydrates. Just because they can eat them doesn’t mean they need to (or should). Sure modern dogs are more omnivorous than their ancestors, but many dogs still develop pancreatic insufficiencies, diabetes, obesity, IBD, skin disorders and food intolerances that resolve after grains and starches are removed from the diet – this, for many, serves as medical-based evidence that excess grains and starches are the probable cause. You’re also not considering the fact that dietary ingredients alter the gut flora – a dog that’s regularly eating a higher protein diet will have higher levels of proteolytic bacteria and a dog fed a high carbohydrate diet will have higher levels of saccharolytic bacteria. Dogs adapt to digest what is being served to them. It’s also not taking into consideration that most starches commonly used in pet foods (corn, soy, beets, etc.) are genetically modified – another whole list of potential health issues. Dogs can digest carbohydrates. So what? This does nothing to prove that a long-term carbohydrate and GMO laden diet is healthful. Until a study is done comparing two groups of dogs in which one group is fed a high carbohydrate/GMO diet and one is fed a natural low carbohydrate diet, nothing will be proven. That article is a moot point.

  • Wake-up

    Finally time to wise up to the impact of domestication on the
    domestic dog. They are not wolves and are vastly superior in their
    ability to digest starch than their ancestors. Check out this article
    from a wee journal you may have heard of (yep-Nature):

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature11837.html

    -Our results indicate that novel adaptations allowing the early ancestors of modern dogs to
    thrive on a diet rich in starch, relative to the carnivorous diet of
    wolves, constituted a crucial step in the early domestication of dogs.

  • Realist

    Time to update this article and finally time to wise up to the impact of domestication on the domestic dog. They are not wolves and are vastly superior in their ability to digest starch than their ancestors. Check out this article from a wee journal you may have heard of (yep-Nature):

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature11837.html

    -Our results indicate that novel adaptations allowing the early ancestors of modern dogs to
    thrive on a diet rich in starch, relative to the carnivorous diet of
    wolves, constituted a crucial step in the early domestication of dogs.

  • losul

    Hi katieacy,

    Thank you very much for that article, very informative, unbiased and eye-opening.

  • kateiacy

    Here is a link to an article in yesterday’s Washington Post about a new  scientific study showing how dog’s digestive systems have evolved to enable them to digest carbohydrates far better than their ancestors could.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/learning-to-love-cereal-was-key-to-the-evolution-of-dogs/2013/01/23/30c47500-6510-11e2-85f5-a8a9228e55e7_story.html

  • rescuekim

    People who go on Adkins go into ketosis which is very hard on the kidneys.  It’s an unnatural state.

  • TromboneAl

    Both of those things are myths. The brain needs glucose, which can be generated from protein. Many people live on zero carbs. The kidneys thing is a myth. Google this stuff.

  • rescuekim

    people do need carbohydrates.  That’s what feeds the brain.  an all protein diet is very hard on the kidneys.

  • Pterocarpous

    W/ all due respect, Elizabeth, your rationale is illogical. You’re human. Your dog is a different species all together w/ a far different digestive system and nutritional needs than humans’. Dogs’ and cats’ (carnivores’) digestive tracts – including their dentition – are not able to digest many of the foods we omnivores consume and even need (e.g. fibrous foods). Bottom line – they’re carnivores. Though they can tolerate some plant-based foods, their bodies are built for deriving their nutritional needs from *raw* animal meat (including offal (organs, etc)) meat fat & bones. That’s it. I spent more than a year researching the contents of pet food. Appalled w/ my findings, I began researching non-commercial pet food feeding. I finally decided on RMB (raw meat and bones) as the extensive research I’d done bore out that as being the most species-appropriate feeding for my dogs *and* cats. My overweight animals ((1 cat and 1 dog) lost their excess weight and my underweight animal (1 feral cat) gained weight. All 4 of my animals are now at normal weight – and they *love* feeding time now. My American bulldog suffered terribly w/ allergies and digestive problems. Defecating was painful to watch as she grunted and groaned – her intestines in an uproar – as she eliminated steaming loose piles of stool (created by “Premium” commercial dog foods – I’d tried “the best” and “the best of the best” and so on to no avail). She now has no issues w/ passing stools – no grunting and groaning – no allergies (no more hives and other breakouts) because she is finally being fed a species-appropriate diet of raw meat and bones. 

  • Elizabeth

    Fiber helps me poop.  Take away my fiber, my poop is like marbles.  That’s enough evidence for me.  If my cat goes for too long without veggies to supplement his EVO, he will run outside and eat so much grass that he throws up.  I give him green beans regularly and it helps move his fur through his system.

  • Elizabeth

    Actually, I think it might be because of the potatoes in grain-free foods.  I’ve fed my cat EVO dry food since he was a kitten.  It used to have potato as a filler, and he always had mushy poop.  Once they replaced the potato with chicken meal, his poop was solid.

  • TromboneAl

    Actually, people don’t need carbohydrates either. Zero. Zip. Nada. That’s how many carbohydrates are required by a human to sustain life. They are not required by the brain or any other organ, and many people (e.g. Inuit) survive and thrive with no carbs.

  • Toxed2loss

    Dr. Becker addresses the latest surge of canine nutritionists supporting grains in diets, and why they would do so. Here’s an excerpt,

    “Myth: Dogs Require Grain-Based Fiber

    Weeth also maintains grain-free, gluten-free pet diets don’t contain enough fiber compared to formulas containing oats, barley and rice. Again, this makes little sense. It is common knowledge dogs and cats have no biological requirement for grains, so grains can’t possibly provide the fiber Dr. Weeth feels is missing.

    She goes on to say she sees dogs in her practice with poor stool quality and gassiness caused by their gluten- or grain-free diet – problems that resolve when additional complex carbs are added.

    My guess is the dogs she’s referring to have digestive issues entirely unrelated to lack of grain-based fiber. That’s a little like linking a human’s digestive issues to a need for more donuts in the diet.”

    And the link to the whole article,
    http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/10/31/veterinary-practice.aspx?e_cid=20121031_PetsNL_art_1

  • Rekha Leo

    I read on news recently regarding the research on dogs breakfast by Dr. Miller. It results that dog consuming meat or any other kind of food which has less carbohydrate perform very smartly than the dog that consuming carbohydrate rich food as breakfast.    

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  • Tstalkin

    it would be helpful ifyou would include K/cal calorie counts

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  • Joe

    Shawna, read the following link when you get the opportunity.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110317172043.htm

    I’m highly sceptical of this new evidence and I’m not sure that researchers aren’t actually confusing cause and effect. They’ve made some pretty big assumptions that high levels of hyaluronase found in Shar Pei ‘is most likely due’ to over activation of the HSA2 gene. I don’t know about you but when scientists start making vague unsubstantiated statements like ‘most likely due’ then my confidence in their results tends to plummet.

  • Joe

    Just read your link… spooky!

  • Shawna

    Joe ~~ I have Gary’s book :)  However, I think it is due time for a re-read!! :)

    I’ll google Dr. Linda Tintle…

    Thanks!

  • Joe

    Hi Shawna, read ‘good calories bad calories’ by Gary Taubes. It’s quite a heavy tome but it’s absolutely fascinating. Gary is a medical journalist and completely independent and objective in his views but in essence he pulls together all the research and critically appraises it. It’s based on human research but it’s hard to ignore the potential implications for animal research. I was Chairman of the Shar Pei Club of GB for a short time many years ago and whilst I have no direct involvement whatsoever I’ve kept an eye on Dr Linda Tintle’s work research into FSF. I’ll read your post with great interest.

  • Shawna

    Hi Joe ~~ I think you and I could have fun talking :)

    I posted data, much the same as what you are saying, a few weeks ago — high glycemic carbs – insulin resistance – amyloidosis.  http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/frequently-asked-questions/health-problems/#comment-424496851

    I would LOVE to read any data you might have on this.  If you have some and feel like sharing would you consider emailing me at shawnadfaemail  @  yahoo and then .com    (Apparently the Internet has sweepers that look for emails to spam.  So everyone breaks up the addresses to prevent this :)

  • Joe

    Glycerin should read ‘glycation’. Auto correction can be annoying!

  • Joe

    Thanks Shawna, I actually don’t have dogs anymore. I bred Chinese Shar Pei for 10 years and gave up after the increasing concerns related to familial Shar Pei fever and amyloidosis. I’m particularly interested in diet because we now know that amyloid deposition in humans is related to hyperinsulinaemia and AGE’s (advanced glycerin end products). These are the things responsible for cataracts and other chronic conditions in diabetics and even probably those without diabetes. All linked to the consumption of refined carbohydrates! I didn’t feed raw, apart from green tripe but I fed my dogs on cooked chicken, turkey, eggs and occasionally brown rice. Unfortunately I did use a mixer biscuit but if I’d known what I know now 20 years ago then the biscuit would have been substituted for a home baked whole meal variety.

  • Shawna

    Well said on both posts Joe!!! :)

    I especially like your comment on attempting to add back in what was stripped out..  They aren’t replacing food constituents we know about (like all eight forms of vitamin E or enzymes) let alone the ones yet to be discovered!!!

    Are you a raw feeder?

  • Joe

    Can I also come back on the fiber issue. The is no evidence whatsoever of the so called beneficial effects of fiber. To simplify, researchers noticed various ailments developing which pretty much tracked with the increasing use of refined carbohydrates. Fiber and any other nutrient are removed from carbohydrates as part of the refining process so somewhere along the line someone made the tenuous assumption that lack of fiber might be responsible for some of these ailments. Fibre simply makes a complex carb harder to digest and thereby reduces the peak response in blood sugar levels but it’s a great irony that we feed refined carbs and then try to add in all the things we stripped out during the refining process.

  • Joe

    Great article Mike. We’re becoming increasingly aware that heart disease, diabetes and even Alzheimer’s are diseases of civilisation. The conventional view that these may be caused bu high fat diets is simply wrong. In fact it is refined carbohydrates, particularly sugar and white flour that are the cause for these ill’s; and yes even Alzheimer’s has been linked through the affects of Hyperinsulinaemia. Mark my words, when the medical profession can swallow its pride and admit that they got the diet heart disease hypothesis wrong then it will become conventional wisdom that we must avoid refined carbohydrates at all cost. This of course begs the obvious question, what are these high carbohydrate diets doing to our dogs? Well, obesity and high cancer rates just for starters but if you take my advice you will stop feeding your dogs these diets and give your dog what’s good for it, protein and fats. Mike is right, there are no nutrients whatsoever in refined carbs, they are empty calories which have an unnatural effect in raising blood sugar to unusually high levels.

  • sandy

    No problem!  There’s a delay sometimes even 15 minutes long before a post shows up on the Recent lists.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    Oops. Sorry, Sandy. Didn’t see your response.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    Hi Kirstie,

    The main source of carbohydrates in any dog food depends on each recipe.

    For most kibbles, it’s typically a cereal grain (corn, wheat, rice, barley, etc.), potatoes or legumes (peas or beans).

    The only reasonable function for carbs is to supply energy (calories) to the animal. As I mention in this article, there’s no such thing as an essential carbohydrate.

    Hope this helps.

  • sandy

    The main carb/carbs is what it used as the binder to make a formed kibble. It can be grains (wheat, barley, oatmeal, rice, quinoa, etc) or vegetables (potato, sweet potato, yam) and even legumes (peas, chickpeas, lentils) or tapioca.

    Used as binders for kibble but there can be too much of them and it just becomes a filler and unnecessary.

    Some other carb additions are fruits and veggies.  They have antioxidants and vitamins, but too much of these is also unnecessary.

  • Kirstie

    what is the main source of carbohydrates in dog food and what is its function?

  • http://essay.com Dummy Account

    Interesting.

  • Shawna

    Dave M — that is maddening that that would happen!!! A simple urine culture is standard procedure when identifying KD for that very reason.. If you hadn’t been wise and sought out that second opinion the infection could have eventually caused kidney disease.

    Another clue that was likely present, with a kidney infection, is abnormally high neutrophil on the CBC.

  • Dave M

    Years ago I had a rescued Greyhound and was told he had chronic kidney disease. We spent thousands of dollars and went on a specialized food (Hills KD before we knew better). I took the dog to see another vet and he told us it was just an infection. Antibiotics did the trick. No more IV’s special diets etc. Now I always get a second opinion when it comes to my dogs. I did change vets. My Greyhound did go on to live to the age of 13 which is pretty good for that breed.

  • Shawna

    I know this comment is really really late but with the new “reply” feature I’m hoping this may still be seen by diane sherman…

    My puppy was born with kidney disease. Symptoms were noticed even before she was fully weaned. She was “officially” diagnosed with chronic kidney disease at 1 year of age. She is not 5 1/2 years old and has been on a high protein raw diet her entire life — and is still VERY healthy.

    The most important thing to consider with kidney disease is quality of protein — meat protein is going to be better utilized on a cellular level then plant protein (soybean meal, corn gluten meal etc). This better utilization leaves less waste (blood urea nitrogen) for the kidneys to have to filter. Likewise, “chicken” should then be better utilized then “chicken meal”. Meals (even good ones) are heated twice which damages more of the heat sensitive amino acids. So, foods with meals (and no added amino acids) will theoretically cause more renal stress then non-meals. And any cooked proteins will create more waste then raw animal proteins.

    Kibble, in and of itself, can cause renal stress because of the chronic dehydration it can create.

    And, phosphorus (when properly balanced with calcium) is not at all (so they beleive) damaging to “healthy” kidneys.

    For dogs suseptible to renal failure through genetics or other factors, chronic stress to the kidneys can (over time) contribute, it is believed, to kidney disease. HOWEVER, they also know that dogs with kidney disease actually have an increased need for protein…

    So, imo, your vet has a point but completely missed the big picture. Hope this all makes sense!! My mind kept bouncing around thinking new thoughts as I typed this… :)

  • Shawna

    Fruits (and veggies) would also add fiber.

    LIKE the “Reply” button!!!!

  • Shawna

    Hi Gary,

    IMO, dog food manufacturers add different ingredients to please people not necessarily for the health of the dog/cat. Granted any food added will add minerals to the diet but the vitamins, enzymes etc are believed to mostly be damaged by the extruding and heating process.. Hence the very long list of added vitamins (and minerals) at the end. Many canned foods are “complete and balanced” with nothing more then meat/protein, water (or liquid of some sort) and added supplements. Merrick Before Grain as an example http://www.merrickpetcare.com/store/detail.php?c=115&s=20486

    In a raw diet, I think small amounts of fruits (and veggies) can supply nutrients that would be missing when not feeding a wide variety of organs/glands/fur etc.

    Humans can actually convert amino acids to glucose as well. However no one I know would want to be put in that situation. I watched a program on the discovery channel years ago regarding this. Happens in cases of starvation when no other source for glucose is available. The body will, at all cost, try to supply the brain with it’s glucose needs — even by stealing it from the muscle. The process is called gluconeogenesis.

    A better source of glucose (via glycogen) for the dog however is from dietary fat. The liver easily converts fat to glycogen and then stores it for glucose needs. I read that fat (gram for gram) provides significantly more energy then carbohydrates.

    This website does a good job, imo, of discussing without being too scientific. http://rawfed.com/myths/carbs.html

    This one is much more scientific. http://themedicalbiochemistrypage.org/gluconeogenesis.html

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Gary… It’s my personal opinion that highly refined carbohydrates (including corn wheat, etc.) increase postprandial blood sugar levels too rapidly in dogs. However, unlike with humans, Type 2 diabetes (which is the type you’re referring to in your comment here) almost never exists in dogs. But it does in cats.

    This is yet one more reason I’m no fan of the high carb content found in so many kibbles.

    In any case, this topic calls for its own research and article with supporting scientific references, something I’m unable to do in a brief response like this. Thanks for your comment.

  • Gary

    It seems that the so called better dog foods contain fewer “carbs” and are grain free. However, as in humans, it seems that the real culprits are simple and complex sugars which may lead to issuesvsuch as diabetes. From the ingredients listed on the more expensive and lower carbohydrate dog foods one notes that there is sufficient fruits listed which are also a source of sugars. I realize that a dog’s nutritional needs differ from that of a human but what I seem to be having difficulty understanding is a dog’s needs for sugar (source of energy) and how a dog digestive system processes sugar. In addition I am also confused re the relationship between protein (amino acids) and energy. Any clarification on these issues would be welcome.

  • http://brotherscomplete.com Richard Darlington

    Barb

    We had a client 2 years ago that came in to our dog food store with their Chocolate Lab and said the oncologist had just told them their Lab had cancer and even if he amputated the leg the dog would only live about a month. They wanted to give it some ‘tasty’ food to make it’s last few weeks comfortable.

    We put it on one meal a day of raw and one meal of a grain free and potato free kibble.

    14 months later I was in the store when they came in one day buying dog food (still on half raw and half grain free kibble) and I asked them if they’d gotten a new dog. They said the Chocolate Lab was still alive. I asked if it still had cancer to which they replied, “We don’t know but she seems to be doing well on this diet so we’re just taking it week to week”. I think their Lab lived another few months after that so diet can have a very positive effect.

    Any form of sugar feeds the cancer tumors so I total support Mike P and Jonathan here. Raw is best but if for whatever reason you can only do some raw then the kibble should be grain and potato free.

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  • Jonathan

    I agree with Mike P here, Barb. You should look into a raw diet. Or at the very least, there are many canned foods with limited carbs. Just take a look through the 5-star canned foods. Hope this helps.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Barb… I’m so sorry to hear about your son’s chocolate Lab. Unfortunately, since I’m not a veterinarian, it would be inappropriate for me to provide specific health advice or product recommendations. Please see our FAQ page and our reviews for more information. Or check back for a possible response from one of our other readers. Wish I could be more help.

  • Mike P

    barb i would go raw in your case

  • Barb Dubs

    My son has an almost 6 year old chocolate lab. She has a 95% chance of having lymphoma. Samples have been sent to the university from 5 sites. She won’t eat and when she takes just a little she throws it up. She is on Iams for Adult dogs. What should she be eating. Some sites say no carbs. We can’t find any that don’t have grains. Help

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Madreena… The customized diet you’re feeding your dog may not be appropriate for her and cannot be addressed on this website. Unfortunately, since I’m not a veterinarian, it would be inappropriate for me to provide specific health advice or product recommendations. Please see our FAQ page and our reviews for more information. Or check back for a possible response from one of our other readers.

  • Madreena

    Hi Mike,

    I cut back on the carbs for my Chi and have only been feeding chicken with a few green beans. The past two days her stools have been small and very gelled, nothing solid. Is this normal when when switching to higher protein content? She barely touched her food this morning and didn’t eat anything tonight. I am worried she may not be tolerating the high protein meals. If she is not better tomorrow, I am going to try to get her to a vet.

  • Madreena

    Thanks again, Mike. You have been very helpful.

    To Sandy, I think I will get some of the Missing Link. Good idea, thanks for suggesting!

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Madreena… There are many animal nutritionists. Some have earned advanced degrees (such as PhD, etc.) whereas others have received only a “certificate” verifying short term training. Unfortunately, I’m unable to recommend or endorse a specific consultant with whom I’ve had any personal experience. You may wish to check back for a possible response from one of our other readers. Wish I could be more help.

  • Madreena

    Thanks, Mike. One more question… do you know how I might be able to find a reputable animal nutritionist? I wasn’t even aware that such a person existed. I’ve been reading more about canine nutrition and feel that my Chihuahua is probably getting way too many carbs. I will stick with the chicken and add only a few slices of carrot, some green peas, and few string beans until I get the opportunity to connect with a good animal nutritionist.

  • sandy

    Your recipe sounds yummie. Maybe a sprinkle of Missing Link to her meals would be beneficial.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Madreena… First of all, thanks for adopting your new baby from the rescue shelter. Although you are obviously feeding her a diet with plenty of quality ingredients, it’s impossible for me to assure you your recipe is complete and balanced. Since much of it appears to be primarily based upon carbs (sweet potato, rice, carrots, peas, pumpkin), it probably wouldn’t hurt to increase the meat content of her meal a bit. You may wish to also consider adding a quality daily vitamin mineral supplement and a few canned fish (sardines, anchovies, etc.) once a week, too.

    Although it’s reassuring to see your Chi looks and acts healthy, you may want to check with your vet or an animal nutritionist to be sure she’s receiving balanced nutrition.

  • Madreena

    Hi Mike,
    I have a newly adopted 5 lb Chihuahua who is estimated to be about 5 years old by the rescue shelter, however, the vet thinks she may be over 7. She does not have good teeth and won’t eat dry kibble. She won’t even eat canned food and I have bought several top of the line brands. She was being fed Chicken, Brown Rice, and Veggies at the shelter. So, naturally, that is what I feed her now. Can you advise if this recipe is too high in carbs for a Chihuahua? 1 whole chicken, 1 sweet potato, 1 cup Brown Rice, 1 cup carrots, 1 cup green peas, 1/2 can pumpkin puree. She absolutely loves it but now, after reading all of your postings, I wonder if it is too high in carbs. She seems healthy and has lots of energy. Her coat is silky smooth and very shiny.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Gaye… I’ve never been able to find a dog food specifically designed for dogs with Cushing’s Disease. However, the amount of dietary information for canine diabetes appears to be more abundant (yet still inadequate). In keeping with the concept of keeping blood sugar stable and under control, you should look for foods that contain fiber (which can help stabilize blood sugar) and a low-glycemic index.

    Most low glycemic foods have a reduced ability to raise a dog’s blood glucose (sugar) level. Click this link to see a short list of dog foods that exhibit a low-glycemic index. Hope this helps.

  • Gaye

    My dog has recently been diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease. He may/may not also be diabetic. We’ve been treating him for diabetes for a year but couldn’t stabilize his insulin; that’s when a vet questioned the Cushing’s. Now I have no idea what to feed him. I had him on EVO Weight Loss but the vet suggested another corn-based vet clinic brand which I bought and promptly donated to a rescue organization. Diabetes requires high fibre, Cushing’s apparently not so much. What exactly should I be feeding him? I have two dogs and I’ve tried the homemade route but it’s just too much for me. Any suggestions?

  • Shawna

    I’ve read some interesting info on pancreatitis which is nothing more then inflammation of the pancreas.. The pancreas makes insulin and digestive enzymes. Simply by eating a kibbled diet the pancreas can become inflammed. Enzymes are abundant in raw foods but deficient in cooked requiring the pancreas to supply ALL the necessary enzymes to digest the food — this can over work the organ. The pancreas also makes insulin and so feeding a carb heavy diet can be taxing to the pancreas as well.. Since carnivores have “no nutritional need” for carbs it would seem to me that they will be inefficient at producing adequate amylase enzyme in a higher carb diet.

    Holistic Veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker has a very good, imo, video/article on pancreatitis. Here’s a quote from the article.

    “In addition, the foods that we feed our dogs and cats are entirely processed and devoid of natural enzymes, which help supplement your pet’s diet and reduce pancreatic stress. So, the pancreas really may live in a state of chronic inflammation and stress because the average American pet diet is dead (processed at high temperatures to create an extensive shelf life) and is therefore devoid of any naturally occurring amylase, lipase and protease enzymes that would naturally be found in raw foods. The canned or kibble (dry food) diet that you feed your pet causes the pancreas to have to secrete an abundance of digestive enzymes. If the pancreas fails to perform adequately, pancreatitis results.” http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2009/12/16/dont-let-this-organ-ruin-your-pets-life.aspx

    Personally, I would bet that it was the antibiotics in Kathy’s case.. VERY SAD!!! :(

  • Shawna

    Kimaira,

    Lew Olson, btw, is well educated on kidney disease as well.. She is a moderator of one of the Yahoo Kidney forums and her Rottie, Bean, was born with (congenital) kidney disease and lived to age 5.

    My pup, Audrey, also has congenital kidney disease and turned 4 years old last June. (Per the Merck Vet Manual the lifespan of a dog with congenital kd is 6 months to 2 years btw). Audrey was weaned onto a high protein, raw diet and has been on that diet ever since (meat/bone/organ and a small amount of veggies and fruit (as well as small amounts of other foods to balance the diet — nuts, seaweed, sea salt, apple cider vinegar, sardines etc). Audrey’s BUN and creatinine have remained stable the entire 4 years – and don’t fluctuate much… “Quality” protein being hard on kidneys is a complete myth!! Poor quality protein (cooked proteins, grains and by-products) leave more nitrogenous waste in the blood raising the BUN and making the symptoms of k/d worse. It’s the nitrogenous waste in the blood that eventually kills the patient — NOT the failing kidneys.. Keep the blood clean of waste, keep your pet alive (and feeling better) longer.

    AND, GRAINS are hard on compromised kidneys due to their high phosphorus content…… Farina and glutinous rice are the ONLY grains that should be fed to animals with kidney disease… Also the omega 6 to 3 ratio of most grains is considerably high in omega 6 leading to greater inflammation and greater damage to the kidneys. Adding to that the fact that they are not complete sources of amino acids leading to more waste in the blood….

    Mary Straus writes articles for Whole Dog Journal as well as other dog magazines and publications. She has some EXCELLENT information about kd diets on her website dogaware.com…

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Kathy… Since I’m not a veterinarian it would be misleading and inappropriate for me to comment on your dog’s situation. However, please be sure to read my responses to your other comments. The food you have chosen is very high in fat. A Guaranteed Analysis reading of 8% on a canned food is indeed quite high.

  • Kathy Wyler

    I had a Coton de Tulear who had been eating EVO 95% beef canned food plus EVO Red Meat Small Bites dry food for about 3 months. He started throwing up on a Monday. After treating him at our local vet for 3 days we took him to OSU Vet hospital. He was diagnosed with pancreatitis. He went into kidney failure and died the next day. He was only 3 yrs old and had seemed so healthy up until that week. I have always wondered if it was because of the high protein and high fat of the EVO. One other fact though, my local vet gave him an antibiotic 2 days in a row which they said at OSU was an old school antibiotic and was very hard on the kidneys. But still, why did he get the pancreatitis in the first place?

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Kimaira… I can understand your concerns about high protein. You’re not alone. Many feel the same way. But here’s another article by a a respected nutritionist (Dr. Lew Olson) that supports the concept of more protein for older dogs. It’s entitled “Senior Dogs and Special Needs“. Pay special attention to the references (links) she mentions in her article. Ultimately, this is a decision you’ll have to make for yourself. Anyway, hope this helps.

  • Kimaira

    I have been using Natures Logic; I have read the “white paper” carefully. I have 3 Am. Eskimo dogs: 12year old;’
    9 year old; 5 year old, They all love the food, are energetic,
    seem to be in excellent health. I am not consoled with the
    conclusion that both groups of dogs (those on low fat. lo
    protein diet) & the group on hi protein, hi fat) have similiar
    degree of risk of renal problems (likely pancrease also). It just
    makes common sense that protein makes the kidneys work
    harder; hi fat gives the pancrease more work. I prefer to make their food with raw (meat, fish, chick) that has been
    previously frozen to kill bacteria; raw veg; yogurt,cot cheese or rocotta, kelp, suppliments–but the dogs don’t “love” this
    mushy mix–they prefer the crunch of the kibble. When others feed them I must use premade food. Re: dogs
    ancestoral diet: in the wild, canines are short lived–5 years
    usually would be “old” I believe. My previous dogs live to ages
    of 9, 12, 14, 17, 16. 15, 14 1/2 they were on lower quality
    foods since knowledge & availability were less then.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi L Walker… Your point is well-taken. However, a dog’s immediate ancestors were carnivores. And yes, of course, they have evolved. But 15,000 years (or so) over the millions of years of evolution isn’t much time for major anatomical features to change. We still feel an ideal diet would include less carbohydrates than the typical and unnatural 50% figure found in the average kibble.

  • L Walker

    Dogs have come a long way since their ancestors and their ancestors in the wild did not live long. I have raised my standard Poodles (and cats) on Nutro products for 13 years and they have enjoyed good health and long lives. Wheat can be a problem in some dogs, but rice and whole grains are not usually.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Claire… Potatoes are not poisonous to dogs. They are a very good grain-free source of plant-based carbohydrates and other nutrients.

  • Claire Sellers

    I thought that potatoes were supposed to be poisinous to dogs??

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Diane… A high protein diet as it relates to renal dysfunction is a controversial subject. Many vets are convinced that high protein is detrimental to kidney health. Whereas others assure us that this low protein approach is somewhat outdated.

    Since I’m not a veterinarian, it would be misleading for me to promise you that a high protein diet would be ideal for all dogs.

    However, my personal favorite explanation and justification for a high protein canine diet can be found in a white paper entitled “The Biologically Appropriate Food Concept and the Dietary Needs of Dogs and Cats“. This article is published by Champion Petfoods… the makers of Orijen and Acana dog foods. I believe you’ll find this white paper very reassuring regarding these types of foods. Be sure to read the parts that relate to kidney disease.

    Hope this helps.

  • diane sherman

    i have a vet who believes the very high protein kibble (like EVO) puts a terrific
    strain on dogs kidneys and recommends against it. she also believes that corn
    is fine and likes Hills foods which surprises me because it contains byproducts. i have a 7 year old standard poodle and feed him lotus now but have tried wellness (so much poop) and other premium foods. what about kidney issues and high phosphorus?

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Viviane… there are quite a few “grain-free” dog foods readily available here in North America. You can find many of them by visiting our “Tag Cloud” which is accessible from the navigation menu at the top of this page. Click on the link labeled “grain-free” for a list of dog food brands that contain at least one grain-free product.

    However, I’m sorry I do not have any information regarding the availability of any of these foods in your native country (Brasil).

  • Viviane

    Hi Mike,

    I’m looking for a dog food which doesn’t use grains (carbohidrates), and it might use potatoes in a small part in the recipe for dog food in Brasil, where I live, may you adviser me about this,???? I had read about Naturally Wild from Eukanuba…may I find that product in Brasil? Thank you and my best regards

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Holly… your suggestion should make for an interesting future study. But for now, we’ve been staying quite busy writing about ten reviews every week… with still hundreds more to go… yikes!

  • Holly Knighton

    Mike – thank you. It would be great if you would include in that information an approximate financial comparison: feeding homemade vs. feeding a high-quality commercial dog food. I recognize that cost of “homemade” will vary by region and by ingredients (chicken vs beef, organic vs not, etc) but to put forward a “case study” that includes financials would be valuable. Thanks for a great web site!

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Holly… When properly designed, a raw diet can be a nutritious (and fun) way to feed your dog… so long as that “design” is based upon real science.

    Presently, we’re actually quite busy reviewing about ten dog food brands each week. As we complete our “first pass” of the industry’s products, we plan to publish in depth information about raw diets as well as “how to feed homemade”.

  • Holly

    To Mike Sagman – what are your feelings about a raw diet? Would you ever feed your dog(s) a raw diet? Do you feel that this type of a diet is truly in the best interests of the dog?

  • Lien

    I’ve already known this and I cannot believe how much vets r against this diet! They say how raw bones r so dangerous but dogs can naturally digest bones just fine because they have special enzymes to digest them. Never seen any wolves die from eating bones or raw carcasses so I don’t see what the difference is for our fellow companions. Also clean up is a breeze with the raw diet!!! Their poop is so tiny it disappears after a good rain shower!! LOL!!

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Jim… I agree. Every dog caretaker should at least recognize what an ideal canine diet would look like. That’s the place to start. If you’re looking for a good dog food (and for whatever reason don’t want to feed raw) there are certain commercial products out there that at least attempt to mimic the design of the natural canine “ancestral” diet in their recipes.

  • Jim (of DoggyBytes.ca)

    I think I love you! =] Ok, well not YOU, but your take on what is required, or more aptly what is “not” required in a dog’s diet.

    I’m a raw feeder, but trying to educate people about the benefits of raw feeding is like banging my head against the wall, 99.9% of people just don’t want to listen about why raw is better and most commercial dog foods are bad. Most people say something like, “kibble is good enough for my dog”. Not a very good way to think about a dog’s health in my opinion.

    Maybe the notion of better canine health through an optimal diet comes natural to me, having been practiced human nutrition and supplementation via bodybuilding the past 20 odd years, to me it’s really not rocket science.

    Keep spreading the word!

  • Pet lover

    Thanks for sharing this blog and revealing this secret because this is going to be beneficial for my dog.