Atkins. South Beach. The Zone. Do these names sound familiar?
They’re all low carbohydrate diets… low carbohydrate diets for humans, that is.
Yet in the world of dog food, carbohydrates remain a mystery.
That’s because the dog food industry makes absolutely no attempt to disclose the actual carbohydrate content of its products.
For proof, you need look no further than the “Guaranteed Analysis” printed on the label of virtually every dog food product. Notice the package reveals the percentages of just four nutrients…
- Moisture (water)
Have you noticed what’s missing?
That’s right… carbohydrates.
Missing from Every Dog Food Label
Carbohydrate content has actually been deliberately omitted from the dog food’s nutrition label.
If feeding your dog a low carbohydrate diet happens to be your goal… and you’re looking for that information on a dog food package… you’re simply out of luck.
But there’s good news.
In less than a minute… you can quickly uncover the hidden percentage of carbohydrates… in virtually any dog food.
How to Quickly Calculate the
Carbohydrate Content of Any Dog Food
Basically, the bulk of all dog foods consist of four major nutrients…
- Moisture (water)
In addition, all these products include something called ash. Ash is the non-combustible mineral residue that’s left over after burning away all the protein, fats and carbohydrates.
Ash content usually measures about five to eight percent of each finished product1 . So, I routinely allow about 8 percent as a benchmark for this important variable.
Together, the protein, fat, ash, carbohydrate and water content must account for roughly 100 percent of the total pre-cooking weight of any dog food.
OK. Now, some simple math…
Subtract the reported protein, fat, water and ash percentages from the 100 percent total. And you’ll get a fairly good idea of the carbohydrate content in that dog food.
By the way, if you’re wondering why I’m ignoring the fiber content… it’s because fiber is actually a carbohydrate. So, its percentage is automatically included in your carbohydrate calculations.
A Real Life Example
Say a particular dog food contains 26% protein, 14% fat and 10% water. Now, allowing for an ash content of 8%… how much carbohydrate should you expect to find in that product?
Simply start with a total of 100 percent… then subtract the protein, fat and moisture. And don’t forget to allow for an average ash content of about 8 percent, too.
Carbohydrates = 100% – 26% – 14% – 10% – 8% = 42%
In other words, if you remove all the “known” nutrients from the food, you’d be left with just the carbohydrates… in this case, about 42 percent.
The Only Reliable Way to Compare Dog Foods
Now, remember… this way of computing carbohydrate content delivers its results on “as fed” basis (Guaranteed Analysis). It doesn’t allow for the moisture content of the food.
And that means you can’t reasonably compare the “carb” content of a canned dog food with a kibble product.
That’s why it’s important to first convert all your percentages… whether protein, fat or carbohydrate… to what’s known as dry matter basis.
Then you can simply use your reported values to compare any two products… canned… or kibble… with complete confidence.
If you’re not sure how to do this yourself be sure to read my article, Dry Matter Basis… The Only Reliable Way to Compare Dog Foods.
Stop Waiting for the Dog Food Companies to Tell You
So, the next time you need to know the carbohydrate percentage of a particular dog food… don’t give up. Just remember this simple method.
You’ll never be at the mercy of the dog food companies again. And you’ll have a pretty good idea about the carbohydrate content of any product.
- Brown S., Taylor B., “See Spot Live Longer”, 2007 Creekobear Press, Eugene, OR USA, p 55 ↩