Dogs and Carbohydrates — A Surprising Secret Revealed


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.


  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
  • Hi John,

    The source of the carb range of 46% to 74% used to create the table above has been referenced in footnote #3.

    However, please keep in mind that the carb content of nearly all pet foods is not required to be reported by current labeling laws.

    So, we are compelled to calculate an estimate of the carb content of every food on this website.

    The method we use to compute this figure is detailed in the linked article in the text of every review.

    Our own estimated average for the carb content for the entire list of dry dog food tends to be concentrated in the 45% to 55% range (on a dry matter basis).

    However, we have recorded carb data as low as zero percent and as high as 76% when we look at ALL recipes in our database.

    Though real, numbers approaching these extremes are less common and can be considered statistical “outliers”.

    Hope this helps.

  • John

    I didn’t question the tabulated range of carbs as not being representative of todays dry dog foods. I just thought that it might be misleading to some readers, that might think that dry dog food with much lower carbs was not readily available. Curious if “DodFood Advisor” has any comment on desirability of feeding dogs dry feed with carbs content in this 46 to 74% range.

  • theBCnut

    I’m not Dr. Mike, but he did mention in the above article “Yet on average, today’s dry dog foods contain somewhere between 46 and 74 percent carbohydrates.3” There’s a footnote on this statement, so this info was pulled from “3.National Research Council, National Academy of Science, “Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats”, 2006 Edition, National Academies Press, Washington, DC, p 317 ↩” rather than on his own research.

  • John

    Thank you Dr. Mike for your prompt response. The lowest Carb on the kibble I been getting is 45% (w/p of 28% and F of 9%) this and the forgoing 24% are based on moist, dry values as you know would be 26.7% and 50% respectively w/ 10% moisture. which is the range of Carb in what I have been getting. These values are based on the minimum values of Protein and Fat posted on the packaging so expect the actual carb values would be a few percentage points lower than mentioned. The web site of the manufacturer of the kibble with the 16,5% dry indicates a carb value of 17.5% see:
    So in contacting them and there nutritionist Dr. X who determined the value, believe he indicated that the 17.5% was based on Lab testing. Just think at least a foot note on the table indicating that: Values are based on average kibble and that the premium brands may have Carb values considerably lower than 46%.

  • theBCnut

    There are a few things that can cause this, and none of them are good. You should have an ultrasound done as soon as possible.

  • Yvonne

    Yes and they suspect cushiness or non regenerative anemia
    I just can’t believe a dog can go from full on energy to flopping over and non movable.

  • theBCnut

    I think that he’s talking about the average kibble. Premium kibbles are higher protein and higher fat, so lower in carbs, but most, if not all, of the premium kibbles are still much higher than 24% in carbs. Also, did you convert to dry matter? Dr. Mike’s figures are always converted to dry matter.

  • theBCnut

    I’m sorry to hear your pup is having such a hard time of it lately. Have you had blood work done?

  • Yvonne

    My Queensland heeler had an E. coli bladder infection that was missed the first time it took two months to get rid of it. Now 6 weeks later her liver spleen and adrenal glands are enlarged she’s slightly distended and tired. She’s only 9yrs

  • John

    Just read you article on Carbs don’t understand why your range of carbs in your table starts at 45% think it should be much lower. Using the formula 100% – % Poutine -% Fat -% Moisture – 8% for Ash results in values like 24% for some premium dry dog food I have checked.

  • pusherswithdegrees

    Stay away from vet food. Vet clinic recommend their crap because they get kick backs.

    Wysong Epigen Starch free; been there done that…makes for soft or loose stool…got tired of cleaning my dog’s rear end.

    Best kibbles on the market today is Orijen: first 5 ingredients are meat, then low glycemic fruits and veggies and basically no carbs.

    Second, with first 3 ingredients being pure meat, then low carbs, low glycemic organic veggies and fruits is Natural Planet rabbit/salmon or duck/white fish.

    Best dog food overall is freeze dried Stella’s & Chewy almost all meat and starch free. (Even the most picky eaters LOVE this food)

    One MUST switch food at least every year to prevent intolerance to some ingredients. The only kibbles that should be fed to pets must have pure meat as the first 3 ingredients listed.

    DO NOT feed potatoes base food. Starch, carbs are sugar and create yeast overgrowth making pets very itchy.

    Run of the mill vets put every itchy dogs in the same label and prescribe armful allergy meds.

    Yes, premium pet food is expensive but will save you trips to the vet in the long run.

    Same goes for treats.

  • canid94

    try mixing the chicken into the dog food start off with a low amount of dog food and higher amount of chicken and lower the chicken gradually the dog should start eating the dog food then dog food is designed to match the nutritional requirements of you dog although they don’t necessarily need carbs they need other essential vitamins and minerals that is the problem with home prepared diets is the nutritional content of eat chicken varies and dogs are not completely carnivorous so they cannot survive on meat based diets alone they are omnivores and need variety.

  • hugoporter

    They are wonderful, Shawna. Ours is a similar story, a pack of four with the youngest one the 10 years old Spitz I told you about. It used to be six but time flies. As mentioned before, I think most smaller breeds actually end up exercising more than the big ones 😉 Also, with 50% protein, yours is more gentle diet than 60-70%.

    My biggest eureka moment regarding food however came while volunteering at shelters. Being a mixed-mud myself, I have seen obese dogs being dropped off at the rich SPCA in SF but also undernourished ones in e.g the South of Europe or South East Asia. The SPCA gets it’s food from brands and poor shelters get supermarket donations too. The quality of the food in shelters is mediocre. But no matter what the dogs eat, if they are too fat they lose weight in shelters and their health improves. If they are too skinny, their weight increases and their health improves. After this most essential step, their diets often go in vastly different directions depending on where these dogs end up.
    It has been my general observation that dogs on too high a protein/fat diet tend to be more likely to get liver/kidney and tumour issues. Just like dogs on high bad carb diets are more likely to get diabetes.

    Again, I don’t think 50% for small breeds is over the top. An urine test is very cheap and can be very insightful regarding long-term health. I think that you will enjoy this panel discussion low vs high diets, Colin Campbell v Eric C Westman – Diet Doctors:

  • hugoporter

    Hi el doc,

    In one of my first posts I quoted the book cited by the article, the “Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats”, . National Research Council 2006. It’s a good summary of metabolic rates in dogs. You can find and skim it on Google books. It states that e.g. moderate prolonged exercise is needed for gluconeogenesis to kick in. I hope it’s a fair question to ask how much exercise would model the wild cold?

    When it comes to diets of canines in warmer climates I recommend the following book: “The Domestic Dog: Its Evolution, Behaviour and Interactions with People” by James Serpell, Cambridge University Press. Under “Ancestral feeding habits” the author gives examples of more plant based canine diets in southern regions of the world. The book further speculates that, given that more dogs have already lived than wolves, and given that their feeding patterns differ vastly, that… well, that many things have changed.

    I totally agree that a protein and fat are an important part of canine diets. For example, they can safely handle more than 3 times more than us humans. I also agree that diabetics benefit from the low GI levels. It still cannot hurt to do an urine test now and then in case one feed more than e.g. 50% protein. If some urine values (re nitrogen and ammonia levels or fat) seem off, we know that vegetables/fruits/peas (not hybridised grains) offer all the good protein and fat without the expensive processing costs.

  • Shawna

    We agree on quite a lot but disagree on a few points. I’d like to conclude this conversation with a picture and short description of my crew.

    This picture is a few of my dogs – ranging in weight from four to nine pounds. These dogs, plus the additional three I now have, were/are all fed diets with protein amounts ranging from 45% to 54%. The third dog was adopted from the local humane society at nine years of age and lived with us another ten years. She passed of old age a year ago. The fifth from left had kidney disease from birth, came to me at nine weeks old, and lived to just shy of nine years (she was given a year to live) and passed from something other than natural progression of kidney disease. The last pup was my daughters and lived with her. The remaining are still with me today and still on high protein – all are seniors – the youngest is age nine.

    The remaining ones with me are a 16 year old Terrier mix, a 15 year old Papillon (came to me at nine and ten years of age and both a couple pounds overweight) and a twelve year old Papillon mix. The Pap mix came in over 30 pounds and now weighs 12 and has maintained that weight for several years.

  • Hi Hugo

    “Metabolic rates don’t utilise fat and protein as they do in the cold wild”

    There are plenty of wolves in the world that do not live in the “cold wild” and their diet is very similar to the diet of wolves that do live in the “cold wild”.

    “Systematic diet studies of Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi)…

    We found the diet consisted of large-sized food items (92.8% percent frequency of occurrence [PFO]), primarily elk (Cervus elaphus) adults (36.6% PFO) and calves (36.2% PFO). Biomass calculations indicated that Mexican wolves consumed 414 kg of prey as represented by the scats, with elk representing 76.7% of the biomass.”

    Could you please post links to any data that shows that warm weather wolves, such as the Mexican wolf, do NOT “utilise fat and protein” as well as their cold weather counterparts?

    Thank you 😉

  • hugoporter

    Hi there, same here. Sorry for replying late. The way I see it, we essentially agree on most things, we just approach them from slightly different angles.

    Processes and hybridised grains, sugars and carbs have transformed us into overweight diabetics. Since meat and fats don’t have carbs, these foods do not have a GI index at all (not even 0). Instead of eating bad carbs, overweight diabetics are well advised to substituted with good fats and good proteins. It will improve both weight loss and blood sugar levels. We both agree, also regarding the science, that a high-fat/protein diet is better than high-carb diet in this particular case. I’d like too add to and not shake this foundation.

    I fear that while the high-fat/protein diet described above is helpful in the short to mid-term for diabetics, it carries its own risks of shifting from one chronic overload to another. The benefits of such diets to non-diabetics in particular are minimal even in the short term while they again pose a risk for diabetics in the long term. The long-term is essential to most domestic dogs as they outlive their wild counterparts in the cold wild by more than twice as many winters.

    I have tried to explain the reasons for this but am not sure if they make sense to you. Metabolic rates don’t utilise fat and protein as they do in the cold wild. Liver and kidney are overworked on high-protein/fat diets.

    The best long term diet in my opinion is one full of the good carbs we agree on. Those with fairly low GI values (clean energy) and full of good nutrients. Peas, cauliflower, spinach, red peppers but also good old grains like quinoa which has no gluten or nitrogen rich proteins like wheat or barley etc.

    The good news. A simple urine test now then can tell you if the liver/kidney are processing access protein or if there is too much fat in the diet. Bear in mind that it’s better to adjust the long-term diet to the metabolic rates of your dog (or your own body) than to trick the body into thinking it lives in the wild cold. Life-expectancy is rarely above 6-7 years in the wild cold, even if they don’t know diabetics. Good carbs are even better as energy than good protein and good fat, they are processed more cleanly by the liver/kidney, offer the same low blood sugar impact while providing more nutrients. In case of high-protein, high-fat diets, I would also consider a large portion to come from vegetable sources due to the high amino acid quality without the expensive nitrogen price tag.

    Again, I feel that I am adding to a common foundation here rather than disagreeing with any points you have made. Again, it’s been an enjoyable discourse.

  • DogFoodie

    That’s good you’re home testing. That’s so important and yes, will give you more information which will help you and your vet figure out how to proceed.

    If you’re wanting to continue making home prepared meals, arrive for balanced over time, not necessarily at every single meal.

    Here are some things for you to read while you’re planning your next step with regard to his meals.

    A couple of great books would be Dr. Karen Becker’s Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats; and:

    Steve Brown’s Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet.

  • Snuff Monkey

    I’ll try that. He needs a break right now. He is sleeping quietly now. Fed him some shredded steak and rice and gave him a glob of that vitamin and mineral energy paste for dogs and cats.
    He just sort of stares off for awhile. Then by morning he’s playing with his buddy, and acting normal.
    I just need to get a glucose reading while he’s ill so I can be sure he has low glucose and not something else wrong.
    I’ll try the lip in the morning. I’m ready to collapse from anxiety. Of course things always get worse on a Friday night. Vets around here just leave the phone off the hook.

    Thank you for helping out a fellow dog lover.

  • DogFoodie

    Maybe try the inside of the lip.

    Have to run a quick errand. I’ll follow up with more in just a bit. 🙂

  • Snuff Monkey

    Yes. My current problem right now is I have a meter but I cannot get blood out of him. He is small. I tried the ear, the base of tail but not enough comes out to register on the meter. Any suggestions. The poor fella is tired of being poked. I even tried manually using the lance. Vet ran blood work. Said he needed carbs, nutrients like rice and vegetables. He will eat the rice. But he still gets spells. This has only been a few days now. I’m wigging out.

  • DogFoodie

    Did your vet run blood work on your dog?

    Dogs don’t actually have any nutritional requirement for carbs.

    If all you’re feeding is chicken, your dog’s diet is very unbalanced and lacking in critical nutrients.

    Are you wanting to continue with home prepared, cooked, meals?

  • Hi Snuff Monkey

    Forgive me for asking an obvious question, but has your dog’s low blood sugars been confirmed with either a blood test or a canine blood glucose meter?

    Dogs don’t have a need for carbohydrates, but if your dog suffers from low blood sugars (hypoglycemia) then you must learn how to prevent them. The first thing I would do if he was my dog is a complete blood and hormone analysis to try and figure out what is causing his low sugars.

    If you have listed his complete diet, then his diet is SEVERELY LACKING IN NUTRIENTS and this could cause a host of problems with low blood sugar being one of them. He should NOT be eating a diet of only’

    “deboned baked chicken legs with no skin and water, with the occasional hot dog frank.”

    I am all for a homemade fresh food diet. as long as it’s BALANCED and 100% nutritionally complete. I would recommend almost any nutritionally complete commercial food over a homemade UNBALANCED diet.

    I am sorry for your troubles and I wish you and your pup the best 😉 Please keep us updated.

  • Snuff Monkey

    I’m confused. My vet told me my dog was lacking carbs and it was causing low blood sugar. I feed him deboned baked chicken legs with no skin and water, with the occasional hot dog frank. Yet he has low blood sugar to the point he gets dizzy and has had a seizure once.
    He will not eat dry or wet dog food. What am I supposed to feed him? Anybody?

  • Shawna

    “Are you saying that only non-essential amino acids are removed?”

    No, no. Not at all. Each protein has differing amounts of the various amino acids. The body then takes the individual amino acids that it absorbs from digestion and starts grouping them back together to make the different things it needs – like digestive enzymes, muscle, metabolic enzymes and so forth. If there is more of any individual amino acid then the body is able to use, in those groupings, those individual amino acids, even if the bodies protein needs have not been met, become waste as they simply can’t be utilized (as amino acids aren’t stored).

    Beef protein, as an example, has a lower biological value then egg protein. Even though it is a complete protein, the amino acids in beef will not be utilized as efficiently as those in an egg even if less overall protein, then the body actually requires, is consumed.

    ***I’ve been meaning to add to this but keep getting side tracked (since Saturday) so I’m going to post what I have here. 🙂

  • hugoporter

    I hope I didn’t confuse and distract with my claim that gluconeogenesis also ends up as glucose. As my post to El Doctor explains, I just wanted to remind us that we cannot escape glucose (initially produced by plant photosynthesis) as an energy source, even for most natural carnivores.

  • hugoporter

    Hi there,
    We agree what protein is used for and that it often has positive (short to mid-term) effects compared to standard carb diets on blood sugar patients. Coming back to what the body does with excess amino acids, you write:

    Okay so when we eat proteins that have amino acids that aren’t used by the body, those amino acids need to be removed from the body by the kidneys. The overall amount of protein has far less impact than how well the body can use all the amino acids in the food eaten.

    Are you saying that only non-essential amino acids are removed? All essential amino acids (from good sources) are being used up efficiently no matter how much protein or calories are being fed and no matter what the activity (gluconeogenesis) levels of dogs are?

  • Shawna

    I’ll come back to the rest of the post — I actually haven’t read it yet. Interestingly, I JUST read info, in the journal Diabetes about your first sentence.

    “Does 50–60% of protein become glucose and enter the bloodstream in 3–4 hours? Gannon and Nuttall4 report that in 1915, Janney calculated that ~3.5 g glucose could be produced for every gram of nitrogen excreted in the urine as the result of a beef protein meal. Beef protein is 16% nitrogen; thus, 1 g of nitrogen is excreted for every 6.25 g protein. Theoretically, then, 56% of ingested beef protein, by weight, can be converted to glucose. However, this was only a theoretical calculation. Gannon and Nuttall point out that, shortly after that calculation was reported, a number of researchers showed that the ingestion of protein by subjects with and without diabetes did not result in an increase in blood glucose levels.

    As an example, as early as 1936, Conn and Newburgh5 reported no effect on blood glucose levels after a meal containing a large amount of protein in the form of lean beef. Fifteen subjects with diabetes and three control subjects were fed breakfasts of glucose or carbohydrate or protein foods calculated to yield equal amounts of glucose (2 g protein/kg compared to 1 g carbohydrate/kg). The blood glucose response after carbohydrate or glucose was as expected. However, there was no increase in blood glucose levels after the protein meal even though there was a consistent rise in blood urea nitrogen indicating protein utilization. The finding that protein did not raise blood glucose levels seems to have been lost or misinterpreted over the years.

    More recently, data from Nuttall et al.6-9 also indicate that peripheral glucose concentration does not increase after protein ingestion in subjects with and without diabetes.”

    I have to leave for a bit but I’ll come back to the rest of the post.

  • Shawna

    It depends on what we consider to be “too much”. Amounts above 30 to 35% in humans can be detrimental but up to 35% (of naturally raised animals) doesn’t seem to be problematic IF IF IF also eating appropriate amounts of nutrient dense veggies and fruits.

    Protein accounts for more than muscle and energy needs though. The amino acids in protein are needed to make the master antioxidant of the body – glutathione. They are needed to make the very enzymes created by the pancreas to digest the food eaten. They are needed by the cells to induce apoptosis (which is necessary for cancer prevention). Without the capsase enzymes (which are created from amino acids) a cell will not commit suicide (aka apoptosis) when it is damaged (cancer) or old. They are needed for muscle formation. My foster dogs come in eating adequate amounts of protein from a balanced kibble. When I change the kibble to one I feed (higher in protein) and also add raw toppers, their muscles become much more defined. It can’t be denied, you watch it happen — EVERY time. Amino acids are used to make the ligaments that keep the joints from popping.

    Amino acids are used in groups – Collagen as an example “is the
    most abundant protein in the human body; its basic building blocks are amino acids, primarily proline, glycine, and lysine. Its amino acid
    chains assemble into long triple helix molecules by hydrogen bonding
    to oxygen radicals along the chains.” The body uses the amino acids L-cysteine, L-glutamic acid, and glycine to make glutathione. It is believed that almost every disease begins with glutathione deficiency and things like heartworm meds can deplete glutathione. The more toxins in ones environment, the more glutathione needed, the more amino acids that build glutathione are needed.

    Okay so when we eat proteins that have amino acids that aren’t used by the body, those amino acids need to be removed from the body by the kidneys. The overall amount of protein has far less impact than how well the body can use all the amino acids in the food eaten. Hence a kibble diet will always, in theory, create more “waste” for the kidneys to filter out then will a fresh food diet.

    Journal of Nutrition
    “In summary, an increase in the protein content and a decrease in the carbohydrate content of the diet for 5 wk resulted in an improvement in the 24-h integrated net blood glucose area response and a statistically significant decrease in glycated hemoglobin in subjects with untreated type 2 diabetes. These improvements in glucose control occurred without a change in body weight. In addition, microalbumin and creatinine clearance, indicators of kidney function, were unchanged. Furthermore, the triacylglycerol concentration decreased, and the total cholesterol and HDL- and LDL-cholesterol fractions were unchanged; however, these data must be interpreted with caution because some subjects were taking medications for lipid control. Overall, the data suggest that a high-protein diet may improve blood glucose control in persons with type 2 diabetes.”

  • hugoporter

    Hi there S,

    when you say too much protein I was assuming you were meaning simply higher amounts then the 18 and 22% recommended by the AAFCO.

    Yeah, this is important. I agree that based on the nitrogen balance test, 18-22% are the pure muscle requirements for protein. But since dogs can utilise protein via gluconeogenesis more readily than humans and during moderate exercise, I’d recommend to feed more than this minimum in terms of protein. Say 10% more for inactive indoor dogs. An Ammonia Test is one way to test if a dog or human is getting too much total protein in my opinion. I’d be really surprised if domestic dogs in the US did well with more than 50% protein in the long run. Your 50% protein is borderline for me, it assumes most % for gluconeogenesis. If El Doc feeds above 60% he assume 2/3 for gluconeogenesis. I’d make sure to run an ammonia test periodically for all indoor dogs that get so much protein. This is why I have asked for your understanding regarding how the body deals with excess protein. If chronic excess protein is not damaging in any way and does not overload any organs chronically, then this can be disregarded.

    We seem to be on the same page regarding regarding good and bad food sources and differ mainly when it comes to %. Your rightly note that I do not agree with the official AAFCO recommendations for healthy carb sources. Grains like wheat and barley are not an option (quinoa however can be). Before I come back regarding the scientific studies you have send, I’d like to understand our scientific arguments and assumptions better.

    Do you for example agree with the following assumptions:

    1) All animals have evolved to prefer common sources as staple foods and rare sources as occasional opportunistic foods. These sources differ obviously depending on animal and natural habitat. Calorie dense foods, protein and fats are usually rare or difficult to get (one has to kill over it and risk ones life). E.g. there is more plant biomass on earth than there is bacteria and more bacteria than there are animals etc. More herbivores than carnivores etc. Some animals have evolved to digest rich foods better (carnivores) but all animals suffer if there is chronically too much or too little food. Usually animals suffer “more” if there is chronic overload of simple and not rich foods.

    2) Animal bodies have primary and secondary storage options so that they don’t die in case of seasonal or draught related food shortages. Their metabolism can adjust too depending in activity, temperature and other variables. There is however a price for storage, just like the freezer in the garage eats up a lot of energy for storing energy. There is no such thing as always storing and never using up in nature. If a carnivore gets too fat, he or she will struggle to catch new prey and will have to wait for weight to come down before new food comes in.

    3) The higher activity, the lower temperatures and the longer sleep and fasting the better is more protein and fat (in larger single portions). The lower activity, higher temperature and long wakening hours, the less need for protein and fat. E.g. human companions often sleep less than hunting wolves despite their lower activity. This is due to human waking hours.

    My suggested % are based on the assumptions above. I would feed a sledge dog in Alaska very differently than family dog in Orange county.

    Why only e.g. 30% protein/fats in family dogs? Based on the nitrogen balance test we can safely assume that given low activity and no hunting, the muscle mass requirements are around 18-22% protein. As I still assume moderate activity to be present to a degree, like playing with other dogs or nature excursion, it’s ok to add more than 1/3 for gluconeogenesis. It is my assumption that both liver and kidney are overworked in the long-run if one has too much chronically but I am awaiting your response before diving back into it.

    The same hold true for fats and my assumption of max 30% fats. Less sleep and fasting than in the wild (less ketosis), higher temperatures means less different metabolism than in wolves and less need for this type of energy storage.

    This implies less need to trick the body into by feeding low carb. Metabolism naturally adjusts based on activity, temperature, waking hours. Usually when a wolf gets a lot of protein in the wild he has followed an animal for 14 miles/day for days/weeks in the cold. He has then spend over 20 miles on kill day at high activity. Metabolism knows it can safely tap into protein as it’s are getting a lot. There will be a long rest period (ketosis) after. How often do family dogs experience this and what are the implications?

    There are ways to mimic or trick the family dog body into believing that it is indeed a dangerous and wild wolf fighting for survival in the cold. Low-carb diets trigger ketosis and gluconeogenesis in ways that only high-activity, low temperatures and long sleep cycles do. If we added occasional fasting of 1-2 weeks, this might trigger more protein and fat needs too. But it’s very hard to mimic natural wolf environments and metabolic rates for most families in the West. Unless we do so, why mimic natural wolf diets in terms of %? Please bear in mind that we are not talking about types of diet but about degree only.

    I am not against things like protein or saturated fats, I just wonder about the differences between wild wolves, lab tests, test on the sick (existing problems that merely get better) and the average family environment of a dog who is (still) healthy.

    I think the fact that you cut out bad carbs completely for your dogs has balanced out potential liver/kidney issues. Like in humans, the liver and kidneys are working when confronted with free floating fructose. I also believe that most ammonia in the body forms when protein is broken down by bacteria in the intestines . The liver normally converts ammonia into urea, which is then eliminated in urine. Too much of this (chronically over years) and one risks liver problems and then, indirectly, kidney issues. (Liver first, then kidney). Excess rare protein e.g. Myoglobin (globular proteins with nitrogen) seem to be worse for ammonia production than simple common proteins (with no nitrogen).

    Can you briefly tell me if you agree with my assumptions 1-3 and if not, why and how? How do you think that your dogs lives differ from e.g. wild wolves? Are they e.g. 1/3, 1/2 or 2/3s as active or even 100% as active as wolves? What happens to excess protein? This would help me if we dive into more % detail.

  • Crazy4cats

    You’re welcome!

  • Shawna

    Thank you Crazy4cats, I’ll go check it out.

  • hugoporter

    I’ll come back in detail soon. (I regret having used Pet/WebMD articles in my last post as they are so superficial that they can lead to more questions, as they have 😉

    What I like most about e.g. Dr. Loren Cordain’s diet is the Don’t Eat list (agree with all) and her choice of fruits and veggies and oils (except for the flax seed oil, too rancid). Organic meats are also a great addition for dogs (and humans depending on circumstances) and overall this diet is miles better than the average American human and dog diet. The difference to an average diet is in type and not merely degree. I assume most Americans would benefit greatly from such an approach, especially in the short- to mid-term.

    Quick question: What do you think happens in mammals once muscle and energy needs from protein are met and there is excess protein in the body? Does it turn into fat or do we excrete it via urine and if so, how? Does the body treat protein differently compared to carbs and fats? Is there no harm in eating “too much” protein chronically (most of your life)?

  • Crazy4cats

    Hi Shawna-
    I’m “butting” in to let you know there is a poster on the forum looking for someone with kidney disease experience.

  • Shawna

    Yes, it is a cool discussion!! Thank you for remaining open to my ideas – even if you disagree. 🙂

    Regarding the article on Pet MD, the author writes

    “actually becomes more important that than actual amount as a high quality protein is more bioavailable and can be better absorbed by the body.” Bioavailability of protein is very important (especially with liver and kidney issues) I agree.

    “Another issue is that the meat in these diets acting as the protein source contains other nutrients that you do not want in excessive amounts. For example, when a diet is mostly meat it becomes very difficult to maintain a proper calcium-phosphorus ratio. When this ratio is out of balance disruptions in bone growth or kidney damage can occur.” EVERYONE who is knowledgeable on DFA will agree that calcium and phosphorus MUST be balanced in the diet. This absolutely can be done on a high meat protein diet though. We all advocate for appropriate amounts of calcium in large breed puppies to prevent bone growth and other large breed issues. However a high protein (especially raw) diet can still be utilized. Kidney damage is not caused by high protein – more on this later.

    “Protein is a calorie dense nutrient and many of the high protein diets are extremely high in calories and can quickly lead to weight gain.” Now that I know you better, I don’t think either one of us will assume that what they substitute in lower protein kibbled dog foods (gluten or other starchy carbohydrates) is the answer. Additionally, the two Journal of Nutrition papers I sited bust that myth (as long as the protein is high, fat moderate and starchy carbs lower).

    “If a dog has kidney or liver issues consuming too much protein can increase the workload on these organs and upset the balance of nutrients leading to exacerbation of disease.” This is simply just not true. This myth has been around so long that many vets are resistant to change but research actually done on dogs (the initial research was not) shows no correlation between protein and progression of kidney disease. Here’s one of those research papers – dogs had 75% of their kidneys removed and fed three diets with differing amounts of protein 56, 27 and 19% for four years. The conclusion “These results do not support the hypothesis that high protein feeding had a significant adverse effect on either renal function of morphology in dogs with 75% nephrectomy.” There are at least 10 studies that show this same outcome. A common misconception is that the kidneys “work”. Here’s one on humans (from research, not someone’s opinion or repetition of a long standing myth) “This paper reviews the available evidence that increased dietary protein intake is a health concern in terms of the potential to initiate or promote renal disease. While protein restriction may be appropriate for treatment of existing kidney disease, we find no significant evidence for a detrimental effect of high protein intakes on kidney function in healthy persons after centuries of a high protein Western diet.”

    “Feeding large breed puppies something that is too high in protein may make them put on weight too quickly causing abnormal joint development and making them more prone to issues like arthritis in the future.” Again, actual science, versus opinion and longstanding myth, says different.
    “Optimal feeding of large breed Puppies
    Jennifer Larsen DVM, MS
    Resident, Small Animal Clinical Nutrition
    Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital
    School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis

    The same group went on to investigate the individual dietary components and demonstrated that dietary protein level had no effect on the development of osteochondrosis (Nap, et. al,
    1991). For some reason, dietary protein level continues to be incriminated by
    some owners, breeders, and veterinarians, despite the lack of supportive evidence.

    In contrast to protein, excessive calories and inappropriate amounts of calcium have both been shown to negatively influence optimal skeletal development in puppies. While overnutrition in adult dogs leads to obesity and
    can lead to serious health problems such as cardiorespiratory disease, we recognize other problems in puppies that result from the same practice of

    Here’s another “The differences in protein intake per se had no demonstrable consequences for calcium metabolism and skeletal development. A causative role for dietary protein in the development of osteochondrosis in dogs is unlikely.”

    As to the first linked article and obesity – we know, from the two Journal of Nutrition papers, that high protein helps with weight loss.

    “The safest diets are those that have been developed by pet food companies that invest in scientific research, consult with veterinary nutritionists, and perform feeding trials to develop their diets. This will provide a pet food that is properly balanced without any excess nutrients that are unnecessary and in some cases harmful for your dog.” If we assume that this is correct, then we have to also assume that the very grains you are trying to avoid must actually be healthful for our pups as they are highly used in diets formulated by certain veterinary nutritionists, and in very high amounts.

    The Web MD article discusses the same old topics already discussed – kidney disease and saturated fat. I will concede, and have before, that protein from feed lot raised animals, even in recommended amounts, is not health promoting. Cows not eating their natural diet are no more healthy than the rest of us eating inappropriate diets. If you look at ground beef compared to grass fed ground beef, there is a statistical difference in the lipid profiles between the two (both saturated fats and polyunsaturated fats – grass fed has a much better ratio of omega 6 to 3 (almost within the ideal range for humans and well within the ideal range for dogs)).

    Thanks again for hearing me out!!

  • hugoporter

    We have a cool discussion going on here. I will reply soon and add only one thing in the meantime that you can also research yourself further.
    You write that “meat protein is not damaging to the liver or kidneys”. My point is that “too much” is.

    That is true for all types of protein, plant and animal but excess animal protein puts the body in a more acidic state.

  • Shawna

    Okay, pieces of the puzzle are coming together. I think many of us here on DFA would agree with you on the types of foods to eat but differ in the amounts to feed. Usually when “carbs” are discussed here it is in reference to grains not necessarily fruits and veggies. Many of us thing fruits, in small amounts, and veggies are completely appropriate for dogs. Some of us also feel the ancient seeds are okay too.

    You’ve mentioned globulin proteins several times – are you referring to prolamins (which gliadin is)? Prolamin and lectin are often used interchangeably – I refer to them as lectins. You mentioned legumes as being okay but they too are a source of lectins.

    You’ve also mentioned fructose as bad many times (which I agree needs to be consumed in moderation) but mention fruits – the source of fructose most often consumed by dogs as they don’t have much access to high fructose corn syrup or alcohol. Fructose, in excess amounts, is damaging to the liver as it is processed by the liver. Dr. Robert Lustig is my favorite source of info on this however he’s mainly discussing fructose as high fructose corn syrup.

    You’ve mentioned proteins affect on the liver and kidneys several times as well. Meat protein however have not been shown to be damaging to either the liver or kidneys. In fact, in kidney disease the protein amounts actually increase. Spinach (I’ve never really checked) may be a superior source of protein but it would take HUGE amounts of spinach (and other vegetable proteins from whole foods) to supply adequate amounts in the diet. From the nutritiondata links you supplied, there are 3 grams of protein and 0 grams of fat in 100 grams of spinach and 19 grams of protein and 13 grams of fat in the beef.

    I would agree that if you are eating junk food and reduce the portion of junk food you are eating and replace it with healthier foods you will lose weight. What I disagree with is that the only way to do this is by reducing calories by limiting proteins and fats. The diet I feed is higher in protein and fats then your typical kibble yet all of my couch potato dogs are all lean and very muscular – all toy and small breeds. I have seven dogs (six are my own) but foster so have had close to 40 dogs over the last 10 years. Not one had weight issues on high protein / moderate to higher fat diets.

    Dr. Loren Cordain is a researcher of lectins and the founder of the Paleo diet. The diet doesn’t eliminate vegetables but lectin containing foods such as all grains (including rice), legumes (including soy, peanuts and often peas), dairy (because of the casein protein (which I am personally sensitive to)), nightshade plants (including potatoes, tomatoes and peppers) etc.

    Shredding flaxseeds makes sense except when you consider the adult dog is not efficient at converting the ALA in flax to DHA and EPA – DHA is the omega 3 most needed for the brains, eyes and heart. A source of DHA/EPA is required for adult dogs — fresh, lightly cooked wild caught salmon and tinned sardines are a great option. That takes care of ALA, DHA and EPA but dogs also have a requirement for LA (which comes from foods like chicken, hemp, pumpkin seed oil or sunflower seed oil as examples). I prefer chicken and pumpkin seed oil. Omega 6 LA is far more stable than Omega 3 fats.

    Olive oil has no omega 6 LA (aka linoleic acid) or ALA, DHA and EPA. Olive oil is a source of polyunsaturated omega 9 fats (which dogs have not been shown to have a nutritional requirement for).

    Avocado’s are actually not toxic to dogs – that is a myth started likely because persin is toxic to livestock and birds. The Pet Poison Hotline is a good source on this.

    Newer studies have implicated sugar, and foods that raise blood glucose / insulin, as the actual cause of heart disease not saturated fats. Article on Medical News Today titled “Saturated fat’s role in heart disease is a myth, says heart specialist” Although increasing the vegetables in your diet would have a similar health effect, saturated fat is not the issue.

    In all honesty, I think nutrient dense veggies and low glycemic fruits are VERY healthy but as a side for dogs – 25% of the diet. My plate however is about 45 to 50% veggies (we LOVE steamed brussel sprouts at my house), 10% fruits, 30% fats and 10 to 15% meat. I model it after the Paleo diet as far as what foods are allowed though.

  • hugoporter

    Hi Shawna,
    Was pressed for time and missed that it was years ago. Sorry for the needless alarm. Like you I am deeply interested in the subject and had a very special patient of my own to deal with many years ago. Gluten, soy, milk, egg and most meats allergy! Bang, values through the roof, a little too much of any source and the red dots and itching starts. Excuse my french but WTF? No worries, he is 10 years old now and when I am being asked regarding his age and I forget to add “years” to “10”, they assume I mean months.


    The barley did work as a nitrogen trap however.

    The fibre worked. Fibre is also good for slowing down glucose releases and fructose processing by the liver. Still, why on earth would a company pick a gluten (nitrogen) rich source for fibre?


    what would be the ideal diet for a dog with kidney disease in your opinion?

    I hope you understand that I doubt there is one perfect % for all dogs and circumstances. Depending of breed (size and genetic history), activity level, temperatures etc all play a role. Smaller, more active dogs can actually handle more protein/fat.
    I also believe in variety and that every day should differ ideally with several smaller portion sizes given that “storage” functions (fats build up) is a goal. In case of diet changes, slow and gradual transitions are best for digestion and metabolism.

    % of calories for kidney issues:
    Protein: 20-30% too much strains liver/kidney
    Fat: 10-30% too much leads too insulin inefficiency
    Carbs: 40-70% good carbs don’t strain liver/kidney,have low GI, full of nutrients

    Excess protein and liver/kidney:
    Saturated fats and insulin:
    Bad carbs and liver/kidney:

    Nitrogen balance test (amino acid count) says dogs need ca 20% essential protein, 3 times more than humans (7%). Anything above that is at risk of excretion and that strains liver and kidney. As animal proteins are complex and rich in nitrogen, I recommend covering non-excess protein from plant sources exclusively. (There is no risk of even 100% plant protein as long as you supplement with taurine, l-carnitine and B12 vitamins, which every commercial dog does anyway).

    Unless you buy low fat meats only, I would assume that a lot of fats are covered by fatty meats. I would mainly added shredded flax seeds to cover the essential fatty acids. Otherwise I would stay away from rancid oils like fish and all seeds oils (also globular proteins that strain liver/kidney). If the dog has a kidney problem only and no blood sugar issue, I would use coconut and palm fat, otherwise stick to olive oil to be on the save side.

    No highly processed, gluten or free floating fructose carbs (low GI) and everything is ok. No wheat, syrups, sugars, white rice, white potatoes.
    Whole food sources such a veggies, fruits, quinoa, buckwheat, most lentils and legumes, amaranth, sweet potato etc are good sources of carbs as they have a low GI index, fibre and no gluten (no globular proteins).


    are you suggesting that canines are better equipped to garner protein from spinach than beef?

    Canines, as real carnivores, are perfectly able to digest complex proteins and fats. Their digestive tract is a lot smaller and higher in acid than in humans. They have evolved in regions where their main food source during winter time, given their anatomy, is prey. But that does not mean that animals have better protein with higher amino acid scores than spinach. Greens are worldwide easier to find than animals but not if you are a wolf during a Siberian winter. Also, in contrast to meat, protein from plants becomes more digestible and animal protein less digestible, also for carnivores. In other words, cooked spinach is equipped with better protein than raw beef, not dogs are better equipped to garner protein from spinach than beef. Dogs are perfectly equipped to garner both sources.

    But careful, it’s not proven that all dogs require taurine and l-carnitine (amino acids) but I would add them together with B12 in case of plant protein only. B12 is lost with too much hygiene and processing and that’s why every commercial dogs food adds it too. B12 affects a lot of human meat eaters too:

  • hugoporter

    Hi Shawna,
    From what I hear your dogs get a good raw diet with no grains. You feed veg and fruits as carbs which are naturally high in nutrients and have low GI. It still sounds more “ideal” for active outdoor dogs than inactive indoor dogs due to how metabolic levels differ (long-term implications for liver/kidney). Too much bad carbs are worse than too much good protein but good carbs can be better than too much protein in inactive indoor dogs. I would cover only what the nitrogen balance test demands (20%) with animal protein and anything above with good plant protein. But again, I think that you feed a good and natural diet already.


    “1) Actually, in most cases, with a high fat diet counting calories isn’t even done let alone necessary…”

    I never meant to count calories but to lowering calories very seriously and to prioritise it. What I meant was that as long as you consume more calories than you use, you will be overweight and will face health issues one way or another. Either too much fructose (bad carbs) or too much protein or fat but usually it’s a combination all “too muchs”.
    Say you eat only junk food, 10 portions per day, and are overweight. If you reduced it to only 7 portions your health will improve visibly because your liver and kidney will automatically work far less. Eg. Insulin efficiency will improve. Your eyes tell you if you’ve consumed too much and your shopping and ordering habits allow for it to continue.


    Saturated fats are not bad fats — I think this can be sufficiently exampled with coconut oil which is a saturated fat.

    My dogs gets coconut, palm and olive oil but naturally no avocado fat as it is toxic to dogs. I don’t have an issue with saturated fats and consume them myself but there is a but. Too much is indeed bad and IF you have insulin inefficiency or heart problems it adds unnecessary and well documented risks. Most humans and dogs consume too much saturated fats and their health is at risk due to it. As with most, the quantity counts.


    “Atkins products use a blend of proteins from four sources: whey protein isolate, soy protein isolate, sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate”
Protein isolates are not at all, even remotely in most cases, healthful.

    You should never consume isolated protein from foods rich in globular proteins such as soy or whey. Not only do they inflame but they cause excess IGF-1 growth hormone production aka tumour growth. They also put your body in an acidic state and hence harm your bones. The more milk you drink the more likely you are to get osteoporosis.


    Plant based proteins, except nuts, are eliminated on the paleo diet due to the inflammatory factors involved in them.

    This sounds crazy as it is the other way around I believe. Common allergy warning include seeds, nuts, soy, milk etc. That’s because these are globular proteins and allergenic and inflammatory. Are you sure it’s not the other way around. No primary allergies from spinach and cauliflower as far as I know.


    In healthy sedentary humans, the short-term consumption of a paleolithic type diet improved blood pressure and glucose tolerance, decreased insulin secretion, increased insulin sensitivity and improved lipid profiles [75].

    Naturally, the body is stocking up on reserve energies with no GI index. That’s not necessarily natural or good. Unless we want to use up energy storage, blood sugar is supposed to go up after food (we want energy). It’s just not supposed to go up too much too quickly for too long (chronic overeating over long periods). I doubt that you think that “blood sugar” is bad per se or that an increase is bad per se.


    Control subjects who were advised to follow a Mediterranean-like diet based on whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish, fruits and vegetables did not significantly improve their glucose tolerance despite decreases in weight and waist circumference [76].

    A “mediterranean diet often includes processed juices, white gluten rich grains with high GIs, cheese etc and this finding per se does not surprise me.


    Although the paleolithic diet studies are small, these results suggest that, together with other dietary changes, the withdrawal of cereal grains from the diet has a positive effect on health.”

    Grains are not grains. Quinoa, brown rice, amaranth and other old grains are free of gluten, high in nutrition and have low GI. We just don’t eat these but only hybridised wheat with much higher gluten % than 200 years ago. What has probably helped paleolithic diet the most was the weight loss 😉 Better to lose weight on high protein/fat than to keep it on bad carbs like table sugar, white bread and white potatoes .


    “Excess proteins has to be excreted via liver/kidney.. This information is outdated and has been debunked of recent years.”

    I read this study. Look, if you reduce meat and replace it with bad carbs (free floating fructose, low GI and low nutrition) than dogs WILL suffer. Why? Because excess fructose is like excess globular proteins. They both have to be processed by the liver and harm it. Bad carbs more so than excess good protein in dogs (in humans it’s less clear). After all, nobody debunked that we excrete excess protein via liver/kidney (and urine).


    Rancid fats can definitely be a problem but the fats from flax, as an example, is just as likely to go rancid as that from salmon.

    I don’t recommend any seed oils for that very reason. I shred unprocessed flax seeds and add them after preparation and when the food has below 100F.


    The fats in sunflower seeds, just like chicken fat, is more stable. Saturated fats, again think coconut oil and butter, have been redeemed as health promoting fats however saturated fats from grain fed animals are still believed to be inflammation causing.

    I believe the opposite to be true. There are many more people suffering from seed, soy, nut and meat allergies (extreme inflammation) than from olive allergies (no globular proteins). I like avocado (not for dogs) and coconut oil unless you have been overweight in the past for too long.

    Generally, we’d be a bit wary of absolutes and generalisations. Carbs are not all bad, fats are not all good. Too much AND too little can mean health issues. As mentioned to El Doc, I like sources that do more than say: “Too much X is bad is a myth because many patients suffering from Y have benefited from a diet rich in Z”. This anecdotal evidence is not good science on it’s own, even if it has helped real people with real diseases in the short run. One cannot ignore the facts surrounding excess saturated fats consumption in the long run for example. I’d be fair as a low-carb advocate and stress that saturated fats as long term companions for diabetic patients can mean trouble. Something along the lines of: “look, your diabetes will improve soon but there is a good chance that you will develop heart problems later”. Something like that, just good science (we demand it from journalists).

  • Shawna

    Thanks so much for your concern about Audrey. The barley was however seven and half years ago and was being given as a whole food source of nitrogen trapping fiber. Audrey, however, ended up being gluten intolerant so it did not work for her at all. I ended up switching her to acacia fiber instead. The barley did work as a nitrogen trap however.

    For clarification purposes, what would be the ideal diet for a dog with kidney disease in your opinion?

    Additionally, are you suggesting that canines are better equipped to garner protein from spinach than beef?

  • hugoporter

    Hi Shawna,

    Sorry, I am pressed for time an had to answer El Doc first. Please read my last reply to El Doc as it will cover a lot of my presumptions when I reply to you regarding high fat or high protein diets.

    But first, something IMPORTANT and URGENT. Please STOP feeding Audrey BARLEY. Barley has gluten, which is a nitrogen rich protein. This is not a good carb or protein -> this is the BAD CARB I am talking about.

    1) poor in nutrients (score of 36), even less than say beef
    2) highish GI score of 19
    3) has gluten, which is worst of all for the kidney

    This is not good for a dog with kidney disease on a high protein diet. Please replace it with spinach, cauliflower, peas or red peppers etc.

    PS: Protein science has come far since the 60s. We now know that every animal has a certain essential amino acid score (100) that determines overall quality needs. Consuming too few or too many is bad in the long run. Spinach and cauliflower for examples has slightly too much full protein and beef lacks a little (officially poor quality). Please have a look at the protein quality scores of spinach, cauliflower and beef (but also nutrients ;).

  • hugoporter

    Hi doc,

    Yes, ours is a “philosophical” discussion, but only on the surface. How many “online” discussions do you know that can impact real-life so directly e.g. how you feed your animals and yourself or how you eat other animals? Politics, religion and other “philosophical” topics don’t have the same immediate and explicit impact?

    You ask:

    “I can see less of a need for fat and protein, but at the same time, I don’t see that increasing carbs is the answer. Yes, dogs are adapting to a diet laden with starches, but at what cost to their health?”

    I’d like to take a big step back when it comes to “where do we all come from” and go back to the origins of all land life.

    The reason why I am so hung up on “energy” is that we have only one source we know of and that makes it easy to trace back, the sun. Without the sun, plants and algae cannot convert light energy into chemical energy that can be later released to fuel the organisms’ activities.

    E.g. the Calvin cycle of Photosynthesis is responsible for three essential things:

    1) oxygen in the atmosphere
    2) glucose
    3) essential amino acids

    Glucose is the main energy source on earth and can be stored in different forms in plants and animals. Essential amino acids are those that animal bodies cannot produce themselves. E.g. Carnivores need to eat herbivores who have eaten the essential amino acids as neither herbivore nor carnivore can produce them.

    Animals can:
    1) access glucose directly: natural/normal spike in blood sugar
    2) ketosis: use short-term reserves e.g. fat
    3) gluconeogenesis: use long-term reserves e.g. muscle (protein)

    If you depend on strength to find new food, it makes sense to tap into muscles and proteins last. However, it is important to note that it all comes back to glucose in the end.

    Ketone bodies are produced by the liver as a result of intense gluconeogenesis, which is the production of glucose. In other words, ketones, like bad carbs, have to go through the liver to turn into glucose.

    And when we tap into protein or muscle via gluconeogenesis glucogenic amino acids, we also come back to glucose production, by the liver.

    Whatever we do, we cannot escape glucose anymore that we can escape oxygen. We need the sun and photosynthesis to live. Depending on type, size, activity and longevity, different animals have different metabolic rates. Why not tap into muscle/fat as energy if it’s clear that you will get a lot of protein&fat soon e.g. hunting in the cold. Metabolisms adjusts and it usually makes logical sense when observed (activity/temperature/body size). Herbivores can handle more starches and fibre, carnivores can handle more proteins and saturated fats. But no animal, no matter what it’s digestion or activity, will be healthy if he or she:

    1) Consumes chronically too many cals because that means that
    2) the liver/kidney are overworked with free floating fructose (bad carbs), excess fat and protein
    3) Has excessive storage bills (not a small fridge in kitchen but a warehouse/bunker)

    Nature gave us storage and reserve options because they are often needed. This is why animals are drawn to rare but rich high-cal foods. In the West these reserves are never needed (keyword: supermarket, fridge, freezer).

    My assumption, based on how nature works, is that longevity comes from not dealing with excesses and shortages for too long as these come at a health cost, mainly to liver and kidney. This is why I believe in this prioritisation when it comes to healthy eating:

    1) Never drop below your needs and rarely exceed them
    2) Only look at better % once your BMI is in check (no need to cal counting or weighing yourself. Eat less of the same and use a mirror)

    When it comes to fat/protein/carb % I would:
    1st) control long-term storage = proteins (nitrogen test)
    2nd) control short-term storage = fats (espcl. if liver/kidney/heart issues)

    As long as you use only good carbs, they don’t need to be controlled given modern activity and temperature levels in the West. Instead of eating only fruits all day, we can eat more starch and fibre rich foods to slow down energy releases. More smaller meals are a natural implication compared to high-protein, high-fat. This is true for humans and dogs, only in different proportions. Dogs need and can handle 2-3 more protein and fat than humans (see e.g. nitrogen test for dogs says ca 20% protein and for humans ca 7%).

    This only works if bad carbs are strictly cut. No gluten-rich, fructose rich, processed foods with low GI. One needs to educate oneself a little first. Shawna, for example fed her little one barley, assuming it helps with nitrogen trapping purposes. Well meant but Barley has gluten and gluten is a nitrogen-rich globular protein that releases nitrogen and strains liver/kidney even more. That’s NOT what I mean with good carbs for liver/kidney disease. I mean cauliflower and quinoa and such.

    When it comes to scientific discoveries, we cannot choose when we find a new puzzle. They rarely come together without some ongoing rearranging. E.g. When we discovered that Protein and muscles are related, everyone was screaming “more protein” (or “got milk” for calcium and bones). When we discovered that saturated fats increase heart disease, we screamed less fatty fat. When we discovered that carbs increase blood sugar we tried to leave them out for diabetics. The gov recommends less added sugar for that reason etc.

    All of this is true but out of context on it’s own and a mere puzzle piece. We cannot escape that no matter how we eat, it all come down to glucose. But we can control much food we eat and how glucose is released. Because it’s indirect, fats and protein keep the blood sugar low but at a guaranteed long-term cost to liver and kidney and potential malnutrition (most vitamins are in carbs). Because bad carbs (fructose) hit the liver and blood too quickly they too guarantee health issues.

    There are many myth busters that I support, especially when they have scientifically holistic arguments. Food for example is supposed to increase your blood sugar (more energy), it’s natural and healthy, just not too much. That protein is dangerous in high quantities was fought off Big Agra lobby groups for ages but the gov had to finally acknowledged it recently, together with bad carbs:

    The myth that saturated fats are bad has not been busted properly yet with good arguments. When it comes to fats, we repeatedly want to ignore the evidence and use anecdotal evidence and stories like: “Saturated fats are not actually bad because I know a diabetic patients who cut out carbs and is now much better off”. If any diabetic patient cuts his cals and bad carbs, he will benefit majorly compared to before. It does not mean that saturated fats are not bad for your arteries and heart and even long-term insulin efficiency. Proteins and fat energy is too costly for the body and these foods are too hard to find in nature to be healthy if consumed too much. Nature’s metabolism seems to know if we are truly fighting the elements or if we just like the reward of an warrior without the effort.

    You further ask:

    “So, if this diet diet (diabetic high-protein, high-fat, low carb) does have deficiencies in any vitamins I believe they could be dealt with by supplementation.”

    I am not a fan of synthetic supplementation unless absolutely necessary. In the case that you want to keep up a high-protein, high fat diet I recommend the type of veggies, fruits etc that wolves would consume in the wild with more nutrients and lower GI than say hybridised apples or potatoes. Foods spinach like spinach, cauliflower, peas.

    Spinach has 30% good protein (no nitrogen, better quality amino score than beef, 119 to 91, according to the government data), good 14% fats (low risk to heart and insulin efficiency) and its 56% carbs have a GI index of 0. I repeat, 0. But this is not all, it has a nutrient balance of 91 aka covers almost everything. I already managed cauliflower with a nutritional score of 80, also not bad compared to only 34 of raw beef? Peas have a nutrient score of 81 and are high in good protein.

    As you know by now, I would do more than switch from bad to good carbs. Given modern realities, I would reduce animal protein and fat generally and replace it with foods that don’t have expensive middlemen costs attached.

  • Hi Shawna

    “The key becomes focusing on your food quality, not your calories.”

    What about people who are already eating quality foods, they’re just eating a little too much?

    For them cutting calories, absolutely works!

    “That well-worn notion—that as long as you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight— is simply dead wrong. It is antiquated and while some experts still espouse this viewpoint, it does not work.”

    Again I ask, what if you are already eating the type of foods that Dr Hyman promotes, you’re just eating a little too much?

    Then this idea that as “long as you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight” becomes absolutely correct, instead of “dead wrong” 😉

  • Shawna

    My pup, the one in my gravatar, had kidney disease for almost nine years – from birth. She was given one year to live post diagnosis. She lived much, much longer.

    Dogs with kidney disease need to definitely eat a “high quality” protein but I completely disagree on what the term quality means. In terms of kidney disease quality refers to bioavailability. Vegetable protein, unless very carefully combined, have poor bioavailability. They are not even a complete protein. Egg is considered the most bioavailable protein from a whole food source (whey protein being better yet).

    Audrey ate a raw, high protein diet, between – 45 and 54% all but the last few months. She was unmedicated and never had problematic symptoms until the last few weeks.

    I did try giving her barley, for nitrogen trapping purposes, when she was a year and half old but she ended up having a sensitivity to it and developed leaky gut.

  • Shawna

    Hi Hugoporter,

    Thank you for response. I’m not a professional but I enjoy researching — a lot.

    Regarding your comments on fats

    1) Actually, in most cases, with a high fat diet counting calories isn’t even done let alone necessary. There are many, including Dr. Attia and the Diet Doctor (Perlmutter, Mercola etc) that don’t advocate counting calories (even on the high fat diet) but I’ll focus this comment on Dr. Mark Hymann’s article “The key becomes focusing on your food quality, not your calories. That well-worn notion—that as long as you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight— is simply dead wrong. It is antiquated and while some experts still espouse this viewpoint, it does not work.”

    Of course counting calories works (I’m sure Dr. Hyman would agree) but not long term. Eventually the human will give up on a restricted calorie diet or the dog will start dumpster diving etc.

    2) Proteins are restricted in the high fat / low carb diet but there is a but — more later.

    3) Saturated fats are not bad fats — I think this can be sufficiently exampled with coconut oil which is a saturated fat. If you were familiar with the high fat / low carb diet you would know that coconut oil, ghee and/or butter as well as cream, cheeses etc from grass fed cows is frequently and even heavily used in the high fat / low carb recipes. Ah, sorry, I see you mention coconut oil now.

    Proteins and Dr. Atkins –
    “Atkins products use a blend of proteins from four sources:• whey protein isolate
    • soy protein isolate
    • sodium caseinate
    • calcium caseinate”
    Protein isolates are not at all, even remotely in most cases, healthful.

    Here’s what’s recommended on the Atkin’s diet
    “High fiber vegetables, protein (fish/seafood, poultry, beef, pork, eggs, plant-based), healthy fats (olive oil, avocados, nuts, butter), dairy (cheese, Greek yogurt) and low-glycemic fruits (berries, cherries, melon).

    If carbohydrate tolerance allows:legumes, higher starch vegetables and whole grains.

    Avoid: sugar, refined flour, trans fat.”

    There’s no designation between healthy, naturally raised animal sources of protein and feed lot raised. “Plant proteins” are recommended as well as whole grains etc.

    The Paleo diet however is a higher protein diet but the protein is suggested to be from naturally raised animals only. Per Nutritiondata website, a feed lot fed cow eating soy and corn has a fat ratio much higher in saturated fat and omega 6 linoleic acid then that of a grass fed/finished cow. In fact, cows are fed grains to get them to gain weight faster.

    Plant based proteins, except nuts, are eliminated on the paleo diet due to the inflammatory factors involved in them.

    In this article they write
    “Health Effects of the Paleolithic Diet

    In healthy sedentary humans, the short-term consumption of a paleolithic type diet improved blood pressure and glucose tolerance, decreased insulin secretion, increased insulin sensitivity and improved lipid profiles [75]. Glucose tolerance also improved in patients suffering from a combination of ischemic heart disease and either glucose intolerance or type 2 diabetes and who had been advised to follow a paleolithic diet. Control subjects who were advised to follow a Mediterranean-like diet based on whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish, fruits and vegetables did not significantly improve their glucose tolerance despite decreases in weight and waist circumference [76]. Similar positive results on glycemic control were obtained in diabetic patients when the paleolithic diet was compared with the diabetes diet. Participants were on each diet for three months, whereby the paleolithic diet resulted in a lower BMI, weight and waist circumference, higher mean HDL, lower mean levels of hemoglobin A1c, triacylglycerol and diastolic blood pressure, though levels of CRP were not significantly different [77]. Although the paleolithic diet studies are small, these results suggest that, together with other dietary changes, the withdrawal of cereal grains from the diet has a positive effect on health.”

    “Excess proteins has to be excreted via liver/kidney and this is bad if it get chronicle.” This information is outdated and has been debunked of recent years.
    “Mythology of Protein Restriction for Dogs with Reduced Renal Function

    Kenneth C. Bovée, DVM, MMedSc
    Department of Clinical Studies
    School of Veterinary Medicine
    University of Pennsylvania
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania”

    Rancid fats can definitely be a problem but the fats from flax, as an example, is just as likely to go rancid as that from salmon. The fats in sunflower seeds, just like chicken fat, is more stable. Saturated fats, again think coconut oil and butter, have been redeemed as health promoting fats however saturated fats from grain fed animals are still believed to be inflammation causing.

    For the record, I’m not against carbs in general. The majority of my plate consists of fats and veggies. I eat only small amounts of meats. My dogs however eat high protein, moderate fat and lower carb (veggies and fruits) raw meals. My foster Papillon came in weighing over 30 pounds. My vet said she was too fat to exercise even. She lost over half her body weight (she now weighs 12 pounds) on high protein, low carb raw diet (and has kept it off for years – we ended up adopting her).

  • Hi hugo

    Regarding diabetics and diet, I look at the big picture first and foremost.

    Diabetes is currently ranked as the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S and as the 8th leading cause of death in the world (as of 2012).

    High blood sugars have been proven to be the cause of the complications that are responsible for the shortened lives and diminished quality of life suffered by most diabetics.

    Normalizing blood sugars is the answer to avoiding the early death, blindness, heart disease, loss of limbs, nerve damage and any other complications caused by diabetes.

    The only diet that has so far been shown as capable of allowing normalized blood sugars in a diabetic is pretty much the same “northern wolf” type diet that I feed my dogs.

    So, if this diet diet does have deficiencies in any vitamins I believe they could be dealt with by supplementation. I am NOT as fluent in that area as you are, so I would definitely appreciate your analysis of what might be missing in such a diet!

  • Hi hugo

    Your comment truly touched the heart of this “animal lover”

    I agree that in modern society there is no way we can duplicate a dog’s natural environment! My main struggle in that area is figuring out a way to honor a dog’s nature, at the same time they are a member of a human household, in a city, being fed, not hunting, walked on a leash…

    When I first came to this website I spoke out about many of the things you mentioned and I was met with hostility. So much so, that I quickly realized if I wanted to be able to post about anything without being harassed I would have to downplay the ethical arguments.

    Anyhow, the main thing we differ on regarding diet is carbohydrates. I agree with your assessment of the differences between the dogs in our living room and wolves, or the common ancestor both wolves and dogs descended from.

    I can see less of a need for fat and protein, but at the same time, I don’t see that increasing carbs is the answer. It’s a conundrum for sure.

    I also agree with your follow up question “”what happened ever since”. Yes, dogs are adapting to a diet laden with starches by producing more amylase than wolves, but at what cost to their health? A modest adaptation in their digestive enzymes is not the same as a restructuring of their digestive tracts, or their dentition or…

    This ethical journey of mine contains no easy answers. It’s not a mathematical equation that can be figured out with certainty, it’s a philosophical journey of “equal consideration for all creatures great and small” 😉

  • hugoporter

    PS: How do low-carb diets get their essential vitamins?

  • hugoporter

    How do patients get their essential vitamins according to Dr Bernstein?

    The ADA position is that it’s ok for short term weight loss and that one has to monitor a lot of things going forward with this:

    Because people following low carbohydrate diets may replace calories from carbohydrate with fat or protein, the recommendations also include monitoring the lipid profile (blood fats, including cholesterol and triglycerides) of patients on such diets. High protein diets may also worsen kidney problems. Therefore, it is also recommended that patients with kidney disease be counseled about appropriate intake of protein and that their kidney functions be monitored carefully. “Short-term weight loss is beneficial, but what is most important for health is keeping the weight off long-term” said Albright.

  • hugoporter

    Rich-nitrogen proteins are complex globular proteins found in most allergenic foods such as seeds, gluten, meat, dairy, soy, …
    Low-nitrogen-protein is most simple veg protein like cauliflower or spinach. These foods have a better protein score than even beef but come in a simple to handle package 😉

  • hugoporter

    Hi Shawna,

    I fully understand how a low-carb high-fat diet can mean to relieve for diabetics and can weight loss. If:

    1) calories are restricted firmly, and
    2) proteins are restricted firmly, and
    3) only good fats are used (no saturated fats due to their impact on insulin efficiency)

    this can lead to improved health for those who have previously overfed on calories, proteins, bad fats and bad carbs.

    It would not be my ideal choice for therapy or weight loss but I think it’s one of the better ones. Better than high-protein diets (RIP Dr Atkins) for sure. Protein goes in to muscles and is so called secondary storage for humans, the last resort. Dogs can tap into it faster and cleaner if activity triggers it. Fats and carbs the human body can deal with and store better, faster cleaner. Excess proteins has to be excreted via liver/kidney and this is bad if it get chronicle. The first energy source the body seeks, be this good or bad, seems to be glucose. Only if carbs are not present does ketosis kick in. Senior dogs sleep more, still dream (use the brain), and it makes sense to me that they experience more ketosis. When carbs are not coming in like with sleeping or during exercise when has not eaten enough carbs before, ketosis naturally kicks in, this is what it is made for officially.

    In other words, when it comes to human energy, the body prefers:

    1st) glucose via carbs
    2nd) ketosis (fat) if not enough carbs present, fasting, sleeping intense exercise, it goes for fats
    3rd) Gluconeogenesis (muscle) if not many fat reserves are left, the body starts tapping into muscle tissue (bad for weak hearts)

    Source for energy storage in humans: Glycogen functions as the secondary long-term energy storage, with the primary energy stores being fats held in adipose tissue:
    Source for why nature picks glucose: The reason for glucose seems that it is generally one of the cleanest sources for almost all land life. But fat is still better for the body than excess protein.

    This makes sense when we look of primate food sources where carbs and plant protein is plentiful and fats, animal proteins and GI carbs (honey) rare.

    I think that a period of chronic excess in calories and rich, rare foods and without activity leads to most modern problems in humans but also dogs (given their environmental and metabolic changes). Too much:

    1) calories
    2) protein
    3) saturated and RANCID fats
    4) bad carbs

    E.g. Dogs don’t run 14 miles daily in the cold to get their special Gluconeogenesis going and too much protein goes bad. Dogs don’t fast and cannot get their ketosis going either. They too suffer from too much of everything

    These are my favourite ted talks:

  • hugoporter

    El Doc,

    Totally agree re commercial approach to feeding. Love your ethical focus and I consider myself close to it as well. Whenever we’ve managed to improve ethics we have benefited as a whole. But since culture has broken up with nature (agriculture), we are caught in the middle and everyone of us has to compromise/prioritise one way or another on our journey to a better world.

    I can also identify with your evolutionary back to nature approach. I think it’s the right way to ask “what has someone evolved to eat in past ” first. But there should be a follow up question “what happened ever since” and what are the implications? In the case of humans, do we look at primates or do we start looking after fire usage spread? Which humans anyway, those after the migration periods had vastly different diets. It’s rarely straightforward.

    I also agree that straying too far from any ancestral diet is what causes modern problems. High temperature reduces protein efficiency, low activity excretes more proteins via the liver, high fructose hybridized and processed high GI carbs also need the liver to work overtime etc. It’s hard to know how to balance it all out best.

    The protein/fat % you feed are a wolf diet. I don’t believe that you are feeding an ancestral dog diet per se. Maybe an ancestral northern working dog diet for very old breeds. Most dogs have lived close and off humans for 15,000+ years and it is established that their gut can digest fiber and starches somewhat better than wolves (my first video showed that). Family dogs in ancient Rome and Greece (often Spitz, Greyhounds and Mastiffs ) have most likely been fed more fiber and even starches all year long (not just in summers). Breeds like the German Shepherd are less than 150 years old and most likely come from dogs that are used to higher carbs (despite their fake wolfish look). Just like lactose tolerance has spread quickly across the middle east and northern Europe in some humans (not in dogs yet).

    It’s not just the activity that differs, it’s the temperature conditions and related fasting too. Given that wolves have seasons (summer/winter) where they have to stock up and then use up, given that they cover over 14 miles in the cold, I believe that their protein/fat requirements are higher than those of domesticated dogs. My understanding is that given that dogs always live in fake summer (indoor room temperature except for some walks in winter) and given that they exercise only 1/3 of wolves (both time and intensity), given that dogs rarely fast for weeks on end, that they need less protein/fat. They don’t tap into protein and fat metabolism enough (given the longevity they experience thanks to our security, medicines and hygiene). Although meats and fats have no GI index to worry about, they do cause health problems when animal metabolism doesn’t tap into it properly. It’s in this context that unused protein/fat can lead to liver/kidney damage which in turn doesn’t help insulin efficiency etc?

    Given that you have low activity dogs that don’t face low temperatures for long and rarely fast beyond a few days , I’d say it save to try more good carbs and plant protein for health reasons. I am thinking stuff like cauliflower. Most dogs can smell it’s complete protein count (103 amino acid score, beef has less), like it and it’s full of wonderful carbs with a GI index of 2 (almost nothing).
    What types of fats and carbs do you feed, this can make a big difference?

    When it comes to food, it is the “not killing” part that is most unnatural for real carnivores for me. How can one live a whole live being a carnivore and not having hunted and killed once, whole generations? Carnivores are on this planet to control herbivores from overpopulation so that they do not eat up their own food too fast. Not being able to do their natural job and hunt they are dependent on humans breeding even more new animals specifically for them. Most of them don’t see daylight, sleep in their excrements and cannot turn around. Horribly off? We force dogs to participate in biodiversity loss and climate change instead of controlling it. For others it is the cooking. Wolves never cook, dogs every single time. Of course I know of exceptions. Some sledge dogs come close to wolves in terms of activity and temperature, some hunting dogs kill periodically. But these dogs are in very small number worldwide. This is where I will deviate from the food topic somewhat and since are at it.

    Wolves never leave their families before puberty. We remove young pups from their mothers at week 8. Wolves can chose their mates freely. Commercial breeding (aka forced incest) and artificial insemination are common in domestic dogs. Some dogs are not spayed and neutered but still never get to have sex.

    Wolves can chose where they go and what they do. Many dogs are either locked up in houses/apartments or have to go on a leash. They basically need the ok from humans to pee. We force them inbreed more than they usually would, risking their wellbeing. We even throw away dog manure instead of leaving it behind as fertiliser, as real wolves do 😉

    I have met the strangest combination of values when it comes to “natural”. People who claim to love dogs and wolves but wear canine fur. People who claim to love animals and then they feed them animals who have never been able to move around or see daylight. People who find it unnatural to spay/neuter but who don’t have a problem to put their loved ones in a crate (illegal in Europe). People who claim their dog must eat the most natural diet yet accept synthetic vitamins and rancid oils inside. Have I mentioned people who are ok to mutilate the tail and ears of their best friends? People who claim to love freedom and are against arranged marriages for humans then go and buy from an incest breeder. Naturalists who don’t find the leash strange? Most of us are full of contradictions or at least compromises and priorities.

    I can slowly understand humans who think that we should not “own” animals anymore than we own children and own women and own workers. We should reconsider the term dog owner sooner rather than later?

    My personal interest when it comes to ethics outside food is the education of and coexistence with dogs. I cannot understand why the media present only two extreme schools of thought:

    1) positive enforcement: in practise this is classical conditioning based on treats (B.F. Skinner)
    2) alpha leadership: need I say more

    Both approaches are somewhat unethical or at least outdated to me. Conditioning without context for true understanding is manipulation. The focus is repetition, obedience and behaviour rather than understanding and learning. Since the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness we know that animal consciousness works like ours.

    In fact, dog brains and human brains are more similar than our digestive and metabolic systems. Recent 2014 MRI scans confirm that dogs use the same brain regions for communication and learning as we do. MRI scans also confirm that they can distinguish between emotion and content of communication. I.e. dogs have real potential for true learning and understanding.

    Conditioning and intimidation might trigger desired behaviours and obedience but they do not utilise the full brain potential. They treat the animal as microwave that merely has to function but does not need to understand. This means missing out on a whole dimension for both dog and human. Instead of entering an equal relationship based on equal brain functions and shared experiences, we treat them as eternal mothers and fathers and never allow them to grow up.

    In the wild, the only goal a wolf mother is for her kids to become self-sufficient and independent. She will most likely die before them and they need to start their own families one day. This is why she does not teach her children with treats nor with domination or physical force (unless there is a life threatening situation). What she does is reward them with more range (autonomy) as they grow.

    In the wild, the best treat and rewards for learning is always more autonomy and freedom. E.g. Learning how to hunt means you can dare to leave your pack after puberty to start your own. We have lost the most powerful reward and only know treats and fear as enforcements. An eureka moment is better than a treat.

    I further find academic experiments like curiosity research unjustified. Academic experiments in virtual setting with virtual task that don’t provide dogs with real-life context to figure out what’s going on should be reconsidered. They are often unethical and often waste money because it’s simply bad science. Scientists should rather work on non intrusive field tech and testing that at least has a theoretical chance to be insightful. Observe and test them in their real homes or not at all. There are millions of family dogs out there with different conditions and diets to test, don’t keep extra lab dogs in lab cages.

    Sorry for speaking my mind so openly and for the long distraction from the food topic.

  • Hi Shawna

    “high fat, low carb diets are now being recommended for human patients. They are finding that by eating a high fat, low carb many with diabetes can get completely off of insulin and other drugs”

    A low carb high fat diet for diabetics is by by no means a new development. Dr Richard Bernstein is the Guru of low carb, high fat diets for people with diabetes.

    For over 30 years Dr Bernstein has been preaching this to his patients. He has helped thousands of diabetics live long, healthy lives, free of the complications and early death normally associated with this disease!

    I’m very happy that you saw this video on tedtv 😉

    His books should be required reading for anyone who has, who is affected by, or who just wants to learn about, diabetes.

  • Shawna

    I was not specifically talking about human diabetics but high fat, low carb diets are now being recommended for human patients as well. They are finding that by eating a high fat, low carb many with diabetes can get completely off of insulin and other drugs. In this Tedx PurdueU talk, given by medical doctor Sarah Hallberg discusses how high fat diets can benefit diabetic patients. The talk is titled ”
    Reversing Type 2 diabetes starts with ignoring the guidelines”

    This is an AMAZING and emotional TedMED talk given by Dr. Attia.

    A high fat / low carb diet can be difficult for many to follow but for some it could be a true gift. “American Diabetes Association, Diabetes Spectrum” article titled “A Low-Carbohydrate, Whole-Foods Approach to Managing Diabetes and Prediabetes”

    All that said, a high fat / low carb diet has not been studied in canines however they have discovered that senior dogs use ketones more readily than glucose for brain health needs. “The results support the hypothesis that brain function of aged dogs can be improved by MCT supplementation, which provides the brain with an alternative energy source.

    Dietary supplementation with medium-chain TAG has long-lasting cognition-enhancing effects in aged dogs (PDF Download Available). Available from: [accessed Jan 19, 2016].

    Grains and legumes as well as fruits (in many areas) and veggies are not in great supply year round. That’s assuming that the dog could actually get nutrients from these foods. In order to do so, they would have to wait until the grain and legume sprouts or the fruit and veggie begin to break down to unlock the nutrients (since they don’t produce cellulose). How many animals living in a natural environment would have access to cooked foods?

    I actually am aware that humans do not have a requirement for carbs. I do feel that carbs, in appropriate amounts, and the right kinds, are quite healthful for human and dog but I think were we differ is which carbs are actually appropriate.

  • Hi hugoporter

    Thank you for your time and energy (haha).

    I’m an animal ethicist. My specialty is modern dogs and all the ethical issues that go along with raising them as domesticated pets while still giving equal consideration to the animals that wind up in their food bowls!

    I feed a lightly cooked, homemade diet that consists of pasture raised meats, mostly organic, but always fed a species appropriate diet. The calorie breakdown of the meals I feed is roughly;
    40-60 % protein
    30-50% fat
    5-15% carbs

    While I am by no means an expert on the science of nutrition, I base most of my feeding practices on the natural history of the dog.

    When looking at the domestic dog and asking the question of “what to feed” I look to the past. I know that if an animal does not adapt to the food in their natural environment they will cease to exist.

    Over their evolution, dogs adapted to their environment and ironically it is only mankind that has disrupted this coexistence.

    So when figuring out percentages of calories to feed a dog, I have a huge problem with carbohydrates above 25%. I also have issues with varying too much from their ancestral diet in any category.

    The reason I go up to 25% on carbs is because I know our domestic dogs are NOT the calorie burning, high energy creatures they were descended from. I worry that the ancestral diet might have a little too much fat and protein for some dogs.

    The tricky part is, I don’t know if straying too far from the ancestral diet is what caused these problems in the first place.

    I believe the upping of carbohydrates, the lowering of protein and most, if not all of the modifications made to the ancestral diet of the dog in the last 100 or so years had NOTHING to do with science and everything to do with, let’s figure out how to make CHEAP, hugely profitable dog foods without killing the dogs too quickly or obviously 😉

    IMHO the science of feeding dogs came about in order to figure out how to achieve the goals of profit and re-purposing of refuse from the human food chain and not in response to the question “what’s the best diet for our beloved dogs”

  • hugoporter

    Thanks for the links and the questions they pose. Just some quick unstructured points:
    RE Dr Attia: I am ok with good fat as an energy source but the human body itself prefers glucose if it can get it first. Are we specifically talking about diabetics? Bear in mind that fat is rather rare in nature for monkeys, apes and primates to eat only protein and fat.
    RE High-Protein-Low Carb diets: If the carbs are bad, high GI, energy can be released too quickly leading to more fat. If however, calories are reduced overall, even bad-high-carb diets will lower weight. Never wait for a change in diet if overweight 😉
    RE Starches: yes starches become carcinogenic as well but to a smaller degree than meat tissue.
    RE Carb requirements: there is no evidence that exogenous carbohydrate is needed for human function either. Same for chimpanzee , not just for dogs and cats. And yet chimpanzees in the wild and even wolves have been observed to eat uncooked and unprocessed carbs like berries, to varying degrees obviously. Cooking of low GI carbs can obviously increase the effectiveness of digestion, just like it does for humans (I know only a few pure raw foodies ;-).
    I can reply in more detail if needed but the work week has kicked for now. Maybe I already touch upon some in my reply to el doctor?

  • hugoporter

    Hello el doctore,

    I don’t mind questions at all. It helps me structure my own thoughts. Let me know if you have more and sorry for the long reply.

    Q 1: In canine mother’s milk you say that protein is 20% of calories…
    A: If you use 4 cal for 1g of protein or carbs and 9 cal for fat, you should get to 20%?

    Q 2: If we stick with 20% energy from protein, what would you say the fat and carb percentages should be for a puppy, an adult dog, and a senior dog..
    A: I will provide my understanding of good %s for fat/carbs/protein below the 3rd Q&A. Here I would like to add that every mammal baby needs far more fat and protein during its neonatal period than later. The older an animal gets, the less protein and fat requirements it has. Older animals apparently need a lower E/T amino acid ratio but that is another discussion and can easily be achieved with more plant protein. I just used the 20% to point to an approx maximum for protein needs in terms healthy muscle and organ building but not energy. After the neonatal period, the nitrogen balance test gives us a good indication for protein needs. I am ok to feed more than 20% protein as dog digestion and gluconeogenesis can handle it better than humans and heating decreases protein efficiency, etc.

    Q 3: You state that excess protein (above 20% of calories) “can be regarded as glucose”.
    A: The whole picture is, of course and unfortunately, a bit more complicated than that. As mentioned, dogs and humans are different. Humans use different precursors for gluconeogenesis than dogs and have different metabolic rates. Gluconeogenesis in humans is mostly triggered by fasting/starving or lack of carbs. Unless a dog get prolonged moderate exercise gluconeogenesis does not kick in. This is according to National Research Council book sited by the article above, “Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats”, 2006, page 289. I am not sure the science on how this all works together is in yet however. We know what happens but not how.

    So you are right, protein does NOT always turn into glucose. First, it’s actually only certain amino acids that can be converted, what happens to the excess amino acids? Unfortunately, this can be a problem. If excess protein does not turn into glucose, the body cannot store it easily like fat and carbs. It eliminates the excess amino acids via the liver/kidneys into the urine. If this happens regularly, health is at risk.

    The average lifespan of a wild wove is 6-7 years and they cover an average of 14 miles per day. The food supply of wild animals also varies, with abundance but also draughts. The protein, and fat, requirements for longevity are therefore different for 3 year old wolf (or working animals) and a 7 year old domestic family dog. Not even our best hunting dogs in the West have to hunt their food daily. Fluffy the domestic dog who runs around the garden and goes around the block should not get proteins like a wolf and if anything less calories. (Smaller active breeds can actually handle more protein/calories better than some sluggish bigger breeds.)


    CAL ALERT: Unless one lowers the BMI of a dog to healthy levels first, optimising other issues is almost in vain in the long run. I believe that consuming too many calories is worse for dogs than consuming say too little/much of protein/fats /carbs. Of course, the proportions and ingredients of food matter but one cannot find a good balance without weight control first. An animal that overfeeds chronically and is inactive most the time (no winter summer hunting/fasting season) has different %s to a an animal that is lean and active .

    Assuming that calories are under control, here are my %s for fat and carbs as well.

    Protein: 20-30%
    Less animal protein and more plant protein as dog gets older or has liver/kidney damage. Assumptions based on fact that dogs less active than wolves and therefore convert less protein into glucose and build less muscle mass.
    I only buy organic or hunted meat as antibiotic and hormone concentrations are worse for small dog bodies than for humans.
    If you get good quality raw meats, cooking is not necessary, feed it raw as nature intended it. If I don’t get high quality meats, I rather feed cooked organic plant protein than animal protein. Plant protein sources that can compete directly with any type of meat based on their amino acid count are for example: cauliflower and spinach. They have a higher amino acid score than beef for example without being rich in nitrogen.

    Fat: 10-30%
    Dogs can handle more saturated fat than we humans before it gets unhealthy, but they too get blood sugar problems if they consume too much. In case of a high animal protein diet we can assume that calories from saturated fats are automatically covered. I would only add the essential fatty acids in form of shredded flaxseeds, extracted oils get rancid and fish oil already shows mercury levels that are questionable for humans.
    If the animal protein % is low, it is ok to add plant oils. But careful diabetics, coconut/palm oil is also high in saturated fats. Seed but also fish oils gets rancid easily and this is unhealthy. Avocado oil carries a toxic chemical for dogs. I therefore use a mix of olive, coconut, palm and animal fats.

    Carbs: 40-70%
    Avoid highly processed, gluten or free floating fructose carbs (low GI) and everything is ok. No wheat, syrups, sugars, white rice, white potatoes.
    Whole food sources such a fruits, quinoa, brown, rice, buckwheat, most lentils and legumes, amaranth, sweet potato etc are good sources of carbs as they have a low GI index, fibre and no gluten. I do believe that dogs with high activity (wolves or working dogs) can do fine on a diet higher in protein/fat. But given average activity levels of domestic dogs (lower protein needs) and the low quality of protein/fat sources, a higher than ancestral carb diet can lead to better longevity. After all, glucose delivered via low GI carbs is a clean energy source, widely used in living organisms including wild canines.

    In other words, I am mostly in line with official veterinarian % guidelines? I would mainly adjust caloric intake, I would lower it. I do believe that adjusting to a higher carbs diets with smaller but more regular meals compared to the ancestral diet makes sense for longevity of most domestic dogs. (I am actually less in line with the government guidelines for humans).


    What I am not in line with is ignoring the quality of ingredients. Too much commercial food still uses rancid fish or seed oils. How many use meats free of antibiotics/hormones? Carbs from white rice or white potatoes as carbs instead of quinoa, buckwheat or sweet potato can mean the difference between insulin shots or not in overweight animals.

    Modern dog food is astronaut food. In order to sell as a “complete” source, companies supplement with all sort of ingredients to get this certificate. The idea that one brand can market one product is great for the health of marketeers and bad for the health of dogs. Eating the exact same astronaut food every day on end was maybe ok for Laika, the first dog in space, but not for earthlings. It’s impossible that e.g. one product is best for puppies every day. It’s not variation if you switch food sources only every couple of months/years from puppy to adult to senior. Home cooking is not only often cheaper but also gives you more control and options to vary. With a rice cooker it takes only a few minutes to cover a few meals.

    I should stop as this is getting too long. Let me know if you have more Qs and kind regards.

  • Shawna

    What are low-nitrogen proteins?

  • Shawna

    You have some good points but those points bring up more questions.

    You mention that “mother milk is one of the best indicators for true net protein requirements”. If we take this as an example for the quantity of protein in the diet should we also consider this as evidence for the amount of fats and carbs in the diet? Mother’s milk being significantly higher in fat on a dry matter basis is 41% fat, 33% protein and only 17% “sugar”

    You mention that humans don’t convert protein to sugar but that is not true. Extreme athlete and medical doctor Peter Attia of the Eating Academy eats a ketogenic diet and in order to reach ketosis he has to keep his protein intake down as the human body will make glucose from protein as well. BUT eating more carbs is not going to get him into ketosis – higher fat must be utilized. Dr. Attia was pre-diabetic and slightly overweight (despite his intense workout routine) until he eliminated excess “healthy” carbs from his diet and (he was already eating moderate protein) replaced the carbs with quality fats – avocados, grass fed butter, olive oil, nuts etc. Dr. Attia has a couple excellent TedTV talks on the subject and is interviewed by The Diet Doctor who is also an advocate of high fat, low carb diets.

    In the article he states “When you eat something, it will stimulate insulin to varying degrees, depending on what’s in it. Carbohydrates stimulate insulin more than any other food. And even within carbohydrates, there are different amounts of insulin stimulus that result form it, depending on the simplicity of them. Proteins also stimulate insulin, but to a much lesser degree. And fat doesn’t stimulate insulin at all.”

    There are, at least, two Journal of Nutrition papers showing dogs can lose weight on high protein, moderate fat and low carb diets. If protein stimulated glucose in the manner you suggest I don’t see how a high protein diet could lead to not only weight loss but also better muscle tone. Here’s the two papers

    “High-Protein Low-Carbohydrate Diets Enhance Weight Loss in Dogs1,2”

    “Weight Loss in Obese Dogs: Evaluation of a High-Protein, Low-Carbohydrate Diet1,2”

    You mention that cooked proteins become carcinogenic however that is true of cooked starches as well. Dr. Demian Dressler of the Dog Cancer Blog mentions it “Another carcinogen is polyacrylamide, again from high temperature cooking, this time of sugars in starch.”

    I think the fact that dogs can not efficiently utilize carbohydrates (even healthier forms like fruits and vegetables) without human intervention is a key point in considering whether these foods should be a significant portion of their diet. Plus the fact that they have no nutritional requirement for them – not saying they can’t benefit just that they have no requirement.

    I do agree that the quality of the ingredients as well as the processing method has a significant impact on the healthfulness of the diet.

  • Hi hugoporter

    They both had diabetes when I adopted them (6 and 8 years old). I don’t know their histories. Thanks for your concern 😉


    1) In canine mother’s milk you say that protein is 20% of calories. I did find an analysis that calculated the actual (not Atwater) protein energy at 30%. But to stick with your 20% for now, what would the fat and carbohydrate energy numbers be? i.e. P 20%, F ?, C ?

    2) If we stick with 20% energy from protein, what would you say the fat and carb percentages should be for a puppy, an adult dog, and a senior dog. You can adjust the protein levels also if you’d like.

    3) You state that excess protein (above 20% of calories) “can be regarded as glucose”. The data I have seen and the data in your first video say that protein in limited situations, can or may be converted to glucose for energy, but that fat, then carbs, will be used as energy before protein.

    And I haven’t found anything that states that excess protein always becomes glucose.

    I just want to understand where you’re coming from a little better.


  • hugoporter

    Hi el doctor,

    I appreciate this discussion with you. Please excuse my long reply (there wasn’t time for a short one 😉 I also followed up on some of your recent posts, sorry to hear that two of your companions have diabetes. When this happens, nutrition becomes more than an interest. Do you know the approximate cause of their diabetes e.g. previous obesity or kidney issues?

    If I may summarize my main protein point to prevent confusion: “As long as dogs get enough (but not too much) calories and protein (less than 20% for most), health is more about the quality of the ingredients and preparation than food types”.

    1) Dogs are different than humans because they can convert excess protein directly/healthily into glucose (energy), we can’t. They can also use glucose from carbs directly. In this regard they are true omnivores who can get energy from carbs, fat and protein. We humans can only get direct/healthy energy from carbs and fat and only deplete muscle reserves for energy when starvation kicks in. More on dogs and protein/glucose:

    2) Dogs need less than 20% for muscles and organs and anything above say 20% can be regarded as carbs (glucose). Careful with diabetic dogs as animal(!) protein has no fiber and releases glucose the fastest!!!. e.g. if you feed dogs 80% animal protein than 60+% can be regarded as glucose (with no fiber to slow it down). Carb foods such as rice (5-10%), fruits (5-10%) and legumes (20-30%) also contain amino acids (protein) which has to be considered in total %. Dogs still need 3-4 times more protein than we do for msucles and organ but they don’t need 20 times more than us (adult humans are fine with 5-7% according to the FAO and WHO):

    3) As long as dogs get enough calories and protein (less than 20% for most), health is more about the quality of the ingredients. Are fats rancid or not? Does the meat I use come from farms that use antibiotics (antibiotics destroy the microflora and promote tumour growth). E.g. If had to chose between 60% processed-factory-farmed meat and 60% high-quality organic carbs, I’d go with the latter option any day.

    Re the paper you linked to, I looked at it. Researches wanted to test how dogs would eat given that they themselves can choose. It’s curiosity research sponsored by Mars Petfood (who have given us humans healthy foods such as Mars Bar, Milky Way, M&Ms, Bounty, Twix etc. Go figure). The actual findings provide great insights as to how Mars Petfoods thinks and operates and less information about actual dog health.

    Studies have shown that herbivores like apes like to vary their food sources. Mars wanted to test the same with dogs, who are more carnivorous. From an evolutionary point of view herbivores tend to eat several times a day (herbivores depend on abundant plants) and wolves sometimes only every other day (their natural food sources are rare and tricky to get). When provided with calorie dense foods that are rare in nature, both herbivores and as we now know carnivores go for the rich food first and keep coming back if it is provided.

    Honestly, this makes common sense and one almost has to wonder why we needed research for it? We just have to look at us humans? When we provide humans with fatty foods or foods that have added sugar (more calorie rich than fruits) – we too tend to go for the calorie rich, cooked food rather than the wholefood raw versions. These days humans eat dairy, meat, added sugars, seed oils and wheat three times a day every day. Over the span of only a few decades we have turned our main and side dishes around.

    It’s not different when you give domesticated dogs the option but it does not make it “healthy” in the long-run. Originally both species have not evolved to live as long as we do today and longevity is only a recent issue. Primates don’t exceed 40 years in the wild and wolves are around 6 years if I am correct. Cancer, kidney disease and diabetes were never part of the “wild” equation, it was only about the “here and wow” ;).

    Again, the Mars research does not tell us much about health but about instinctual taste preferences that do not apply to dogs as they do to wild wolves or strays. The research does tell us however how to stage a marketing campaign: “Dogs prefer Mars Petcare”

    A study that you will never see sponsored by Mars Petcare is a comparative health analysis between low-temperature homecooking and generic wet or dry food. They would never publish a paper about rancid oils used in their Pedigree brand or show us pictures of where the meat comes from. If am not mistaken, Mars Petcare has yet to reveal the precise ingredient lists of their products (why is there no legal issue when it comes to commercial products)?

  • Hi hugoporter

    Thanks for those links, and the info you posted! I’m looking through it, and when I have a better understanding of it, I’ll reply 😉

    While doing a little studying on what you wrote, I came across this study on self selection of different macronutrient profiles by dogs. I found it quite interesting;

    “Geometric analysis of macronutrient selection in breeds of the domestic dog, Canis lupus familiaris”

    “Using nutritional geometry, we show that the macronutrient content of the diet was regulated to a protein: fat: carbohydrate ratio of approximately 30%:63%:7% by energy, a value that was remarkably similar across breeds”

  • hugoporter

    There are only two ways to determine approximate amino acid requirements per species.

    1) mother milk: tells us what a rearing baby needs in terms of protein (neonatal period)

    2) nitrogen balance: tells us what growing and aging human needs in terms of essential and total amino acids

    It is true that mother milk is not an ideal protein indicator beyond the first stage of life requirements usually go down as we age. I called it “best” in the context of our discussion because we can usually assume that it is “not more” but less.
    The magnitude of the basal energy needs and of the total amount of protein turned over in a day are both related to active tissue mass. In young animals and growing children both rates per unit of active mass are increased compared with those observed in adults.

    There is one argument that implies more protein than mother milk and nitrogen balance testing indicate for older dogs. The adult requirement for essential amino acids falls more sharply from infancy than does the total protein requirement. Thus, the proportion of total amino acids (T) that must be supplied as essential amino acids (E) (the E/T ratio) falls with age.

    This can lead us to believe we should feed our animals more than 20% protein as they grow older. Potentially 25% claims this study here:

    But actually, as mentioned before, it is more about the quality of proteins than the quantity. As the FAO link above explains, the older dog seeks less total amino acids and more essential ones. Merely giving them more of the same protein does not guarantee that at all, it keeps the same E/T ratio.

    I am obviously not for low-protein diets either. If your dog has or develops kidney problems one should not lower protein intake per se but, again, check the quality of your proteins. These days one can switch to e.g. low-nitrogen proteins.

    When it comes to dogs there is too much fuss about how much actual meat and protein there is in their food and too little about the actual quality of the ingredients (also fats and carbs) and even less about preparation. High temperatures cause animal foods to produce cancerogens. Ancestral diets did not include this type of processing nor did they consume rancid fats etc.

  • Hi hugoporter

    “After all, mother milk is one of the best indicators for true net protein requirements in mammals and dog milk has around 20% of calories from protein or 7.5% in weight.”

    “In other words, when it comes to dog food (as long as it has 20% protein) the quality ingredients is key.”

    Can you please post links to data that says the nutrient makeup of mother’s milk is indicative of the nutrients required by a mammal past the age of “breastfeeding”?

    The only data I found so far says that the nutrient makeup of mother’s milk is the best indicator of the nutrients required during the neonatal (newborn) phase.

    “Thus, it is logical to assume, on a teleological basis, that the composition of the milk of different species represents the optimum composition of nutrients required during the neonatal period of that species.

    “Consequently, it has rightly or wrongly been assumed that the composition of the milk of any mammalian species is the best indicator of the nutrient requirements of the offspring during the neonatal period.

  • hugoporter

    Another point missing from the ancestral diet comparison is cooking and baking. I have never seen a wolf or lion cook or BBQ his food. This article in general is a bit spotty. Their main source is the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, “Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats”, the bible of dog and cat nutrition. It clearly states in chapter 1 that dogs’ digestive system is well adopted to carbs and that it should be clear that there bad (processed sugar) and good carbs. What sticks out is that dogs can change metabolism rates depending on diet, cats not so much. In other words, the above article is a good one for cats but a bad one for dogs who can even deal with starches. After all, mother milk is one of the best indicators for true net protein requirements in mammals and dog milk has around 20% of calories from protein or 7.5% in weight. Anything above that level is converted into glucose (carbs) anyway. In other words, when it comes to dog food (as long as it has 20% protein) the quality ingredients is key. When it comes to cats, it’s the composition and quality that counts.

  • DogFoodie

    You bet! I knew you two would have a lot in common.

  • Leigh5738

    Hi, I have been reading posts by toxed2floss and it has been extremely interesting. The health issues we are experiencing as a result are all here and it’s good to read how someone else is coping with it as the numerous doctors and vets we have seen simply don’t have a clue what to do about it. Thank you so much for the pointer. Leigh

  • DogFoodie

    Hi Leigh,

    I’m so sorry about what happened to you and your dogs. I know someone who was intentionally poisoned in a similar way. If you’re still dealing with issues, you might want to check out this blog / forum: The friend I mentioned created the site and posts there regularly. She shares a lot of great information. Best of health to you and your pups.

  • Leigh5738

    Hi, I am no expert. In my own personal experience as a dog owner who got sprayed with glyphosate by the local farmer while out walking the dog and then had to quickly deal with a dog that had two grand mal seizures and a few focal seizures. I have found that if my dog doesn’t get a potato a day plus half a carrot or a sprinkling of peas she starts having issues. I think all the fresh b vitamins and the carbs found in potatoes sooth her. Interestingly she can no longer tolerate beef, or any grains including rice as these make her bloat and itchy.

  • Pitlove

    Balanced homemade and raw diets do exist. Primal is a good example of a nutritionist formulated commercial raw diet.

  • speak of mind

    Hi, I just read your post. the difference between dogs and wolfs affect to 36 genome regions, 10 of which have a role in digestion. If there’s a difference between wolfs and dogs, it is indeed in the digestion system: No surprise since they were domesticated more then 9,000 years ago. BTW it is starting to be an issue that some homecooked and raw diets are linked to poor calcification and early fractures. I wonder how long before pet insurance will stop cover animals fed these sort of things.. …so much to discredit companies that make research rather than just writing anecdote in websites. Thank you

  • speak of mind

    Just a reminder of carbohydrates being necessary in pet and human diet:

  • Karen Mitchell

    Yes, thank you. I’ve researched into the “activated charcoal”..(it’s NOTHING like the commercial charcoal treat, scuze the french, crap tho)

  • Karen Mitchell

    Since my girls have been on an all natural raw diet they very rarely have any flatulence and that’s only when I give them broccoli or similar

  • Shawna

    “Better ways to correct flatulence” — oh my gosh, I COMPLETELY agree with that. Flatulence is caused by anaerobic bacteria consuming undigested proteins and/or carbs. You would want to start a good quality enzyme and a good quality probiotic.

    In my post, however, I was specifically talking about a chronic, life threatening disease – kidney disease. In kidney disease activated charcoal binds with toxins in the gut as well as the nitrogen waste products that build up in the blood. Those same nitrogen waste products are what ends up causing death at the end stages of the disease.

    That said, I did give the same supplement I gave my kd girl to my other dogs. Although cancer takes time to manifest, after a year or more of using it no dogs have developed cancer. I do mix up the ingredients in the homemade supplement mix and I only use a small amount of AC in the overall mix. I decided to look again but I still am not able to find any data showing “food grade” activated charcoal to be carcinogenic. I did find one research paper that showed no tumor formation in “carbon black” but did show tumors in benzene extracted carbon black. I don’t know how this would relate to “food grade” AC? The paper does state this though “Dietary carbon black was not carcinogenic in
    limited lifetime studies in rats and mice at levels up to 10% of the
    diet. Information was also presented to show that carbon black was
    able to adsorb some chemical carcinogens and, under certain
    experimental conditions, was shown to reduce their carcinogenic

  • Karen Mitchell

    I asked Vet Dr Bruce Syme, about feeding charcoal treats etc. He has been studying as a vet for 25 years and has his own natural products here in Australia. I got asked a question by a member of my group about flatulence and so I researched into it. This was Dr Bruce’s response.
    Charcoal is a no no in any form, unless you use it in an acute poisoning situation. Burnt food as charcoal is the most dangerous form, but I prefer to play it safe and avoid all forms. there are better ways to correct flatulence (eg probiotics).

  • Gailyn White Terry

    Karen, yes charcoal is carcinogenic EXCEPT activated charcoal. It is widely used in hospitals to control anemia in cancer patients and remove toxins from the digestive tract. You don’t absorb anything in activated charcoal, it just moves things through the system that you would otherwise not want hanging out there. Burned food, bbq, and charcoal briquettes are another story.

  • Shawna

    Hi Karen and thank you!!

    I completely agree with you on antibiotics. My entire family RARELY uses them. We uses alternatives for everything from ear infections (onions & colloidal silver) to pink eye (coconut oil) to digestive upset (garlic). Audrey however was beyond help with alternatives unfortunately. She had been taken in and it was assumed that her feeling ill was her kidneys and she was given sub q fluids. They didn’t help and I felt something was still off so she was taken back a few days later. By this time the infection was too bad. 🙁

    I had never thought about food grade activated charcoal as a carcinogen but I know that “food” can be (amines) – specifically protein and starch. I googled it and it appears, to me at least, that because AC is burned wood it does not develop the same carcinogens that protein and starches do. This was from a quick google search though. I am open to additional information if someone finds it.

  • Karen Mitchell

    Several years? Then you have a long way to go

  • Karen Mitchell

    Sorry for your loss. antibiotics aren’t good for our pets, or humans. It’s great that you discovered a probiotic.

    I know of most of your suggestions and a couple I have made note of, thank you, some great info here.
    Recent cancer research has shown all charcoals to be highly carcinogenic, and as such, it can no longer be recommended. That came from a very good vet of mine who is an advocate of raw diet for pets. I don’t know hoe true it is, but I’m not taking a chance..I will wait till I see some facts before giving it to my girls.

  • JimmyInNYC

    Apparently you don’t know anything about diabetes. At all. Ketones are produced from burning fat. You’re trying to describe ketoacidosis – a result of high glucose AND blood ketones – which is NOT the same as ketosis. Ketoacidosis is deadly. Ketosis is most certainly not. You wanna know how many carbs humans really need? Zero. Zilch. Zed – just like dogs. I wish people who think they had a “scientific background” knew a thing or two before posing their own stupidity themselves.

  • Doug Krause

    Google nutritional ketosis (fat burning versus carbs/insulin that resolves the related inflammatory “diseases” such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, insulin resistance, cancer, fat phobia, etc). The ketogenic diet for humans consists of around 70% fat, 25% protein and 20-30 grams of carbs per day from non-starchy vegetables. Human bodies (and I’m sure dogs, too) maintain a lower but stable blood sugar level and 60-70% glycogen storage from burning fat instead of carbs in the form of ketone bodies. Amazingly enough, even the brain will run on ketones instead of glucose without the oxidative / free radical damage. See also articles and videos by Dr John Westman and Dr Jeff Volek. Note that the boy will convert amino acids from EXCESS protein to glucose via gluconeogenesis, preventing the state of ketosis.

  • pitlove

    dogs are scavenging carnivores. which means that they are still carnivores and require a species appropriate diet and a biologically appropriate diet

  • pitlove

    PLEASE please watch these videos

    especially as someone who is in the veterinary business.

    It is so upsetting and sad that vet’s have less knowledge about nutrition coming out of veterinary school than someone who has simply researched dog food for a few years.

    “Dogs don’t need ancestral models of diets, they’re domestic animals, not wolfs” — jesus christ this could not be more wrong. Dogs share 95% of the mitochondrial DNA of wolves. They highly benefit from an ancestral diet. They would not be getting carbs out in the wild except for SOME partly digested grains from their preys guts.

    It is insane to me how Hill’s Science Diet really has the perfect marketing tactics. Get into the vet schools, teach them all the wrong information about nutrition, convince all the students that dogs needs carbs and corn and all the horribly inappropriate ingriedients found in their food oh! and also teach them that dogs NEVER should switch their diet EVER! Perfect way to keep people funneling money into their business.

    I highly suggest looking into the holistic side of your practice. It offers far more options to you than the prescription diets that Science Diet and RC offer that can cause more harm than good.

  • erdoke

    Official standpoint of the medical establishment is that “The two main causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure”. As high blood pressure is also mainly caused by hyperinsulinaemia, I have not much doubt that it is high insulin and high blood sugar that are behind most cases of CKD.
    As a consequence, a low carb, moderate protein and high fat diet seems to be the right approach to slow down further progress of the disease.

  • Shawna

    One misconception is that protein “makes the kidneys work harder”. They know that is simply not true as the filtering is a passive process. Protein, even in the later stages of kidney disease, is in no way harmful to the kidneys. Phosphorus is but phosphorus is high in many foods – including carbs, like quinoa.

    The dog in my avatar had kidney disease from birth and was weaned on to a high protein raw diet (protein on a dry matter basis was 45 to 54%). She lived eight years and seven months and we didn’t lower her protein till the last four months of her life. It was an antibiotic given for a bacterial infection (not caused by her food) that ended up taking her life not the “natural” progression of her kidney disease.

    Dr. Barbara Royal created a lower phosphorus prescription raw renal diet. The diet is sold through Darwin’s raw.

    Have you come across “nitrogen trapping” in your research. Basically, if the blood gets a bit high in BUN you can help bring it down by diverting the nitrogenous products (BUN) through the colon. I used this as necessary with Audrey if I noticed any subtle signs of not feeling well — a bit lethargic, not as spunky as normal etc. You want to feed a HIGH quality probiotic (I use Garden of Life Primal Defense – human product) and you want to feed those beneficial organisms with a suitable fiber (aka prebiotic). I tried several and failed — pectins from grapefruit and apples actually increased her BUN. I settled on a human product Fiber 35 Sprinkle Fiber.

    Also look at the quality of the water you have available. The water in my area is LOADED with toxins. I’ve been drinking filtered water since 1995 so when Audrey came into my life she went straight on to reverse osmosis water too.

    The one supplement I would not allow myself to run out of was a product made by Standard Process called Canine Renal Support. I can go into why if you want but the short answer is – it helps prevent further damage to the kidneys.

    Some additional supplements to research are 1. turmeric – it is anti-inflammatory, safe and is also anti-fibrotic so will help prevent scar tissue. 2. Food grade activated charcoal has been shown to be beneficial with kidney disease as it helps pull toxins and heavy metals from the digestive tract. 3. Chlorophyll (which is abundant in high quality Chlorella products) helps build red blood cells as well as helps clean the blood. 4. Burdock root is a prebiotic and is known as the “blood purifier” of the herb world. The whole root can be found at Whole Foods or it can be found as a supplement in most places. 5. Coconut oil will add calories without compromising the pancreas. It also has MANY additional benefits including antimicrobial.

    There’s much more but it can get a bit overwhelming… Best of luck to you and best of health to your fur kids!!!!!!!

  • Shawna

    I’m very intrigued by your posts erdoke — very interesting and informative.

    Would you mind discussing this comment a bit further “Continuously high blood sugar and insulin have much more to do with the cause, but it is true that when you already have CKD protein must be limited.”?

    My pup had kidney disease from birth and ate a high protein raw diet all but the last four months of her eight and half years of life. I know carbs didn’t contribute to her disease but am interested in the concept of carbs/insulin as a cause of kd. Any additional information you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

  • Crazy4dogs

    That’s funny Shawna. I just read through the whole thread about an hour ago. It was!

  • Shawna

    I neglected to read all the way through the thread before posting. I see much of what I posted has already been discussed. Very interesting discussion.

  • Shawna

    The dog in my avatar had kidney disease at birth with symptoms of polydipsia and polyuria as early as six weeks of age. She wasn’t officially diagnosed till 13 months old. She ate a high protein raw diet eight years and four months of her life (which was eight years and seven months. The protein amounts ranged between 45 and 54%. I did feed a small amount of veggies 15 to 20% and fruit 5%.

    Per Dr. Attia M.D. in the video I linked above, ketosis can not be achieved when eating a diet with too much protein as the liver can efficiently make glucose from protein if excess protein is consumed (in humans at least). I believe Dr. Attia addresses some of the symptoms in the paper you site as being caused by excess protein as well as too little sodium and a few other minerals when trying to achieve ketosis. As per the making of the video, Dr. Attia has been eating a ketogenic diet for a year and half.

  • Shawna

    Ketogenic acidosis, a side affect of diabetes, is very serious indeed. BUT a healthy person, let alone pet, can quite safely eat a ketogenic diet – and in some cases they are now learning should.

    A ketogenic diet has been used to treat epilepsy for many years. I first learned of this in a film called “First Do No Evil” based on the true life story of a young boy with severe epilepsy. Once on the ketogenic diet he no longer had seizures.

    Info from the Mayo Clinic.
    “The ketogenic diet — a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that mimics the fasting state and stimulates the ketogenic metabolism pathway — was first used in the 1920s at Mayo Clinic. It has since been discovered to improve seizure control in children with intractable epilepsy. More than 100 Mayo Clinic pediatric epilepsy patients are currently on the diet.”

    New research by Purina has discovered that older dogs are not as efficient at converting sugars to glucose. Fat is now being discussed, specifically coconut oil, as an alternate energy source (ketones) for senior dogs. This is currently being discussed quite a bit but I’m pulling the below data from Cambridge Journals.

    “The group given the MCT supplement showed significantly elevated levels of β-hydroxybutyrate, a ketone body. These results indicate, first, that long-term supplementation with MCT can have cognition-improving effects, and second, that MCT supplementation increases circulating levels of ketones. The results support the hypothesis that brain function of aged dogs can be improved by MCT supplementation, which provides the brain with an alternative energy source.”;jsessionid=C4F7A32B210C58ABB0D6E8E617C0676D.journals?aid=7807704&fileId=S0007114510000097

    Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, MD (aka The Diet Doctor) had/has (can’t find the video right now) an amazing video interview with another MD who is also an extreme athlete. This MD purposefully went into ketosis and monitored his vitals the whole time. His athletic performance and his focus improved on this LOW carb diet. As mentioned, I can’t find that video but Dr. Eenfeldt talks about a ketogenic diet pretty extensively on his website.

    For the record, I’ve heard that the ketogenic diet is not as useful in dogs with epilepsy as dogs have a much harder time reaching ketosis.

    Edit — for the record, I do believe a small amount of carbs (from fruits and veggies) is beneficial and my dogs’ raw diets do include small amounts (up to about 20-25% of total diet).

  • Guest

    ‘I wont’ get into details of why’ because I’m quite happy to discredit what you wrote but unable to support my own claims.
    Is that what you meant?

  • Cup_of_STFU

    I won’t get into the details of why, but your post contains a ton of misinformation. As you said, people should take the time to read and learn about ketones, and it shouldn’t be from internet comments on the subject.

  • Tamzbabies

    Balance is the key to life and one of the most difficult things to achieve, eh? I tend to agree with the article, quanity and quality is key. But dogs can and in some case must receive carbs, as in the case of renal disease. Personally, while vet is very supportive of my own intense research in the good health of my furry kids, he has also admitted to a general lack of understanding about proper nutrition in the professional community. Vets are hits hard at conferences and in office by the largest pet food distributers (*Purina, Royal Canin etc..) with samples and in some cases money . These companies have rather deep pockets big money (as their are owned by even largder corps) some of which funnels into veterinarian universities that are given generous donations by said companies who in turn release reports that ultimately support their food as “proper” nutrition, a bit skewed. I learned to be vary wary and dig deeper….
    A recent personal example is my 15 and half year old JR that was recently diagnosed in the beginning stages if KD last week, she had lost enough weight to be alarmed but we had caught it early enough that we could be able to manage it with diet. We discussed in depth more whole forms of carbs such as organic potatoes, sweet potatoes, cottage cheese, etc and formulating a personalized diet for her. Not wanting to leave that evening without food, my vet (although hesitantly) offered their script diet of Royal Canin renal Lp, a small bag and two cans. We both knew that I would do my own research to find the best diet for her and this was only temporary..
    The ingredients of RC was my first look and what I found was somewhat alarming. With dog in Kidney failure/disease, one would assume that the food should be top notch with the best ingredients (especially at the over inflated price!!!) but in the cans the first ingredient is “meat by product”, which basically all the meat leftover from production (ie, hooves , snout, innards, ligament etc etc) and not the best protein for said sick dogs, or any dog on a regular basis. The first three ingredients in the dry was rice (?), brown rice and shockingly corn- which we now know is harmful. My dog refused the food flatout! My resulting research (which is still ongoing, hence my being here) has formulated a plan of raw diet (being some of the highest concentration of pure protein~ human grade musccle meat, marrow and some organs, without antibiotics, USA sustainable livestock) carbs from whole grains (farro,, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa has too little calories which she needs) sweet potatoes and potatoes, some fruits, and cottage cheese. I shared this with my vet whose was in total agreement~ his only concerns was the raw diet being too much of a percentage of protein (which ultimately makes the kidneys work harder). He wasn’t against the tiresome disagreements of the “safety” of a a raw diet (look it up~ there are statistcally way more dry food recalls then ever of the Raw food (and those that were, were mostly voluntary , unlike a majority of dry food). When I pointed out that protein was first (signifying the majority ingredient) in the RC cans ingredient list with substandard by production meat, we decided that the majority would be the good Raw Diet meat, closely followed by an assortment of calorie laden carbs,
    SO far so good, as she actually gained a half pound (she’s 10 pds) in the past week and seems less lethargic, etc. GIven the script diet, we most likely wouldn’t have seen that so quickly.

    I also have a 12 year that was diagnosed with osteosarcoma almost 2 years ago and she’s about to beat the statistics we were given. I read a multitude of studies (.edu searches are quite helpful), the Dog Cancer Survival Guide (written by 2 veterinarian /oncology vets with each vet having some slight different opinions on the same subject~ great insights) and other publications. That research led to her begin on a grain free diet ( not raw) with homemade chicken/turkey stew, lots of vegetable, beans and some fruits and she is doing very well, above expectations.

    I would encourage readers to do their own research coupled with common sense and disseminate all the info you can find. It may be time consuming (although we have developed such good patterns, it’s not much time spent). It may cost a little more, but ultimately you will have a healthier, longer lived friend while keeping those vet bills down!

  • erdoke

    No, I just say that low carb does not necessarily equals ketosis. It often does, but carbs are not the actual switch, it is always hormones.
    I assume that dogs are at an early stage of becoming omnivores from carnivores?

  • Salty2
  • Fatty Bumbum

    so you’re saying that a low carb diet doesn’t increase serum ketones.

    and you’re also saying that dogs are obligate carnivores.
    We’ll have to agree to disagree I guess 🙂

  • Salty2
  • erdoke

    No, it is not correct that eating no carbs equals high kevels of serum ketone bodies if by definition. High insulin suppresses secretion of glucagon and low glucagon means no gluconeogenesis, no lipolysis and no conversion of fatty acids to ketone bodies. Now, relatively high insulin levels can be maintained by overeating red meat and dairy high in whey protein for example which can competely block you from entering ketosis whatsoever. Therefore, those who try to follow the high protein diet you keep insisting on for some reason, will often fail to be in ketosis.
    This way, a truly ketogenic diet is high in fat, fibers and organic acids and low in carbohydrates while moderate in protein. All in all ketogenic = not insulinogenic.
    I kindly remind you that ketogenic diets are used successfully for improving not only epilepsy, but for other neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease (= Type 3 diabetes).
    Not recommending a protein and fat diet for carnivores is a strange decision indeed. On the other hand you need to realize that most carnivores in nature go for organ meat and the fatty parts and not for lean meat. Several times the energy can be obtained from fat than from protein, while organ meats are much more nutrient dense than epanything else in nature. OK, maybe eggs are an exception.
    I will not comment further on kidney disease and potential causes. My wife does unfortunately have CKD, I have read more about it the last ~ years than most nephrologist. We can manage it quite well on a low carb, high fat diet. It is of course not high in protein.

  • Fatty Bumbum

    Ok, I’ll give it to you that I don’t have enough evidence to support that a high protein diet will cause renal issues. But I think we will both agree that it causes renal changes that wouldn’t happen if the diet wasn’t unnecessarily high in protein. Wether you consider these changes or not, a cause of an illness it would be, of course, a different matter. I agree I might be biased about this, but if we’re talking about feeding animals or ourselves more natural foods, substituting sugars with a high protein diet it’s probably not the best way to go.

    Now I diet with no carbs at all, it would be ketogenic by definition. (I know, i’ve been told, this is not what the initial article is about, tho it looks like it when you read it). A ketogenic diet is used with people with epilepsy and is likely to cause these symptoms: I’m sure you’d agree that you wouldn’t want to use a diet causing all these to your children if it wasn’t because there is a solid evidence that is helping with your kid’s epilepsy. Well, I wouldn’t recommend it to a dog either. Would I?

  • erdoke

    Academic education does not include necessary updates from the past 20-30 years of research. I do not blame you, I was in the same shoes until 1.5 years ago, regardless of also having rather intensive education in molecular biology. Only when you check the actual status of recent research, you realize that some chapters in textbooks are worth nothing.
    When doctors claim that ketones are categorically bad, or that the brain cannot run without continuous (external) supply of glucose, I immediately smell textbooks and no personal check of the science.
    In fact ketone bodies (BHOB and acetoacetate) are helpful in many conditions, for instance in restoring insulin sensitivity or in improving neurological disorders. Now we know that our neurons do not use glucose, but rather fed by lactic acid by the astrocytes. There is a clear preference of lactic acid over any other fuel, even over ketone bodies.
    Check out the blog of a fellow vet:
    By the way, your claim about high protein consumption causing kidney disease is also false. Continuously high blood sugar and insulin have much more to do with the cause, but it is true that when you already have CKD protein must be limited.
    The Atkins diet indeed misses the point a bit, because not carbohydrates as a whole group are solely responsible for obesity and subsequent metabolic diseases, but loss of insulin sensitivity. However, it is not difficult to understand the role of high consumption of refined carbohydrates in developing insulin resistance, isn’t it?

  • Dear “Dr” Fatty Bumbum,

    Where in this article or anywhere on this website do we advocate a carbohydrate free ketogenic diet?

    We are only reminding readers that (unlike protein and fat), carbs are not an essential nutrient.

    You are obviously missing the point of this article.

    The objective here is to simply call attention to the scientific fact that the overwhelming majority of today’s extruded dog foods are unnaturally over-weighted in carbohydrates.

    By the way, according to our posted commenting policy and in the section entitled, “A Word to Veterinary Professionals”, our rules state:

    In the interest of fairness, those who publicly claim to be veterinary professionals are kindly asked to post using their real names.

    Thanks for honoring this reasonable request when posting here. Thank you.

  • Fatty Bumbum

    I have a bit of knowledge about physiology since I am a full time veterinary surgeon with several years of experience and I have several diabetics under my care, which by the way, are doing pretty well.

    I’ve also have some renal patients, which is what you’ve going to end up with a diet too rich in proteins and I’m quite frustrated about diseases I diagnose after people listen and read things in the internet.
    Dogs don’t need ancestral models of diets, they’re domestic animals, not wolfs. Neither are we monkeys. Both branches had evolved separately.

    I don’t mind people expressing opinions, but absolutes like this: ‘Zero. That’s how many carbohydrates are nutritionally required by a dog to sustain life.’ are pretty dangerous.

    By the way, your answer is wrong in a very basic concept. The article is advocating a ketogenic diet. If you don’t believe me, read this: or source in the internet any relation to the ill-advised Atkin’s diet.

  • erdoke

    Please do not comment without having a basic understanding of physiology. Thanks.
    Ketone body production in the liver is regulated by insulin, more specifically when insulin is consistently low. Type 1 (or burned-out type 2) diabetics have no insulin, thats why ketoacidosis can develop. I hope you see the difference now. If not, just think about blood glucose. Within a certain range it is considered normal and above that an issue, much above life threatening. Now, ketone bodies are normal even in a broader range than glucose.

  • Fatty Bumbum

    Before you attempt to feed your dog no carbs at all, find out what ketones are and what can they do to your body. Ever wonder why diabetics die? They can’t process the carbs they need.

  • 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 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.”

    Purina Research has data as well

    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.

    And “Weight Loss in Obese Dogs: Evaluation of a High-Protein, Low-Carbohydrate Diet”

    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.”

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • “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):

    -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):

    -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.

  • 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,

  • 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.

    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…


  • 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.

    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.

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

  • 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?

  • 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

    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.

    This one is much more scientific.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.”

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

  • Shawna


    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…

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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??

  • 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?

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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!!

  • 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

    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.