Are Carbohydrates Bad? 

Dogs and cats can get all the nutrition they need from a diet that contains only protein and fat. They don’t even carbohydrates at all!  Yet, most dry dog foods are made up of 40–60% carbohydrates! Carbohydrates aren’t necessarily bad for dogs and cats. Complex carbs in reasonable amounts are a good source of energy, vitamins, and fiber. But the problem is the quality and quantity. 

Dogs that consume too many carbohydrates often develop chronic ear infections, itchy skin conditions, food allergies, and weight gain. Why? Because unused carbohydrates are converted to sugar, which can then cause inflammation in the digestive tract and lead to all kinds of health problems, including obesity.  

Carbs are included in dog food because they are plentiful, inexpensive, and necessary for kibble to hold its shape. And don’t be fooled by “prescription” or grain-free formulas – these are often extremely high in carbs.  So how do you know if you are feeding your pup a food that includes a high percentage of carbohydrates?  You would think that this would be listed on the label – but it’s not! 

So you have to figure it out yourself. To do this, look at the guaranteed analysis and subtract the amount of protein, fat, moisture and ash from 100%. The carbohydrate percentage is what is left over. The ash content of food isn’t usually listed, but you can use 8% as a general guide. You don’t need to subtract the fiber listed.  

If you are feeding dry food, look for one that is less than 35% carbohydrates. Read the label so that you know the source of the carbohydrates. Quality carbohydrates include whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, millet, and quinoa. Other quality carbohydrates are chickpeas, lentils, fruits and vegetables.   

Feeding a raw diet or partial raw, adding some fresh “human” food, and giving treats that do not contain carbs can reduce the overall balance of carbohydrates consumed.


Bottom line is that most dogs will benefit from a diet that is low in carbohydrates and high is meat-based protein.  Eating real, whole, minimally processed foods is important for both humans and pets to experience optimal health and well-being. Many pet parents are choosing to feed their dogs and cats a fresh, frozen, raw diet instead of one that is dry and highly processed.  Give it a try - you could be adding years of health to your best friend’s life.  

Let us know if you would like an analysis of the food you are currently feeding or some recommendations for some quality brands of food.