Can Dogs Digest a Diet High in Carbohydrates?

Can Dogs Digest a Diet High in Carbohydrates?


Can Dogs Digest a Diet High in Carbohydrates

If you’ve noticed your pup becoming more sluggish, gaining weight, or itching more often than usual, it could be because of their diet. Regarding nutrition for our furry friends, one of the most commonly asked questions is whether dogs can digest diets high in carbohydrates. Let’s look at what science has to say about this topic.

What is Salivary Alpha Amylase?

Before we dive into how dogs digest carbohydrates, let’s take a look at salivary alpha amylase first.

This type of amylase is found in the saliva of humans and many other animals, as well as in pancreatic secretions. It is responsible for breaking down starches and glycogen into smaller polysaccharides.

In short, salivary alpha amylase is an enzyme produced by our salivary glands and helps break down complex carbohydrates into simpler ones that are easier to digest. While humans produce high levels of salivary amylase that allows us to easily break down carbs found in foods like bread, pasta, and other starches, our canine companions do not have the same ability.

Do Dogs Produce Enough Salivary Alpha Amylase?

The answer is no. Recent studies have shown that dogs have less salivary alpha amylase than humans, making it harder to digest complex carbohydrates. If these carbs comprise more than 30% of their diet, your pup will likely struggle to break them down properly. This can cause digestive problems such as bloating, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Additionally, since dogs lack the digestive enzymes to break down carbs easily, they often convert them into sugar. This can lead to further issues such as weight gain and excessive bouts of energy followed by extreme exhaustion - which is why carbohydrates should not be given in large amounts.

The amount of carbohydrates in a serving of dog kibble can vary depending on the brand and specific formula. However, as a general rule, most commercial dog foods contain 30-70% carbohydrates. It is important to note that dogs do not have a dietary requirement for carbohydrates. They are primarily carnivorous animals whose bodies are adapted to digesting and utilizing protein and fat. While some carbohydrates can be beneficial for providing energy and fiber, it is important to choose a high-quality dog food that meets your pet's individual nutritional needs.

The bottom line is that dogs can digest carbohydrates but in moderation. Any diet with more than 30% carbs should be avoided to prevent digestive issues and other health problems. Make sure your pup’s food has plenty of protein and healthy fats so they get all the nutrients they need for a happy and healthy life.

What Should I Feed My Dog Instead?

What Should I Feed My Dog

Instead of feeding your pup food with large amounts of carbs, try opting for a balanced diet of proteins (meat-based sources), healthy fats (from fish oils), vitamins, minerals, and fiber from leafy vegetables. This diet should provide all the nutrients your pup needs without any negative side effects caused by too many carbs!

Remember, a balanced diet tailored to our canine companions is key to keeping them healthy and happy! And while some carbohydrates can be beneficial in moderation, it’s important to be aware of the risks associated with too much. With careful consideration and a little bit of research, you can provide your pup with all the essential nutrition they need to stay in good health.


While dogs can consume some carbohydrates without experiencing any negative side effects, they cannot produce enough salivary alpha amylase to break down complex carbs effectively. As such, owners must feed their pups diets with fewer carbs and more proteins, and healthy fats instead so they can remain healthy and active! Doing this will ensure that they get all the essential nutrients they need without suffering from digestive issues or inflammatory diseases caused by too many carbs in their diet.

Ultimately, it’s important for owners to understand the nutritional needs of their canine companions and make sure that they are providing them with a balanced diet that is low in carbs and high in proteins, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. This will ensure your pup gets all the benefits of a nutritious diet without suffering from digestive issues due to too many carbohydrates!

Good luck with your dog's nutrition journey.

Waggy Tails! Paul

Waggy tail dog


Authors Bio

Paul Raybould is the Co-Founder and CEO of KetoPet and Visionary Pet Foods. Paul is an experienced dog dad and a passionate advocate for dogs everywhere. He has a deep understanding of dogs’ dietary needs and the importance of providing them with the best nutrition possible. When not working helping dogs everywhere have a long, healthy life, Paul enjoys spending time with his wife Susan and two rescue standard poodles, Freya and Coconut.


The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If you have any medical concerns about your dog, please consult a qualified veterinarian.



1. Abarca-Rojano, E., Hernández, A., & Gómez-Villamandos, J. C. (2011). Salivary Amylase in Dogs and Cats as Part of Metabolism Study. Veterinary Medicine International, 2011.

2. Kano, M., & Wakamatsu, Y. (2004). Salivary Amylase and Its Role in Starch Digestion. Annual Review of Nutrition, 24(1), 243-267.

3. Kaneko, J. J., Harvey, J. W., & Bruss, M. L. (2008). Clinical Biochemistry of Domestic Animals. Elsevier Health Sciences.

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My 5yr. old yellow Lab started vomiting about a week from the 10 day transition from her previous food to the visionary dry beef also visionary dry chicken, from all the research it sounds like it is too much fat, and that can cause pancreatic inflammation, maybe the wrong kind of fat,? pork fat does cause pancreatic issues


Not long ago, I lost my sweet Yellow Labrador to diabetes. I feed her what I thought was a high quality dog food. My lab suffered with chronic ear infections, itchy skin, and lethargy her entire life, with lot’s of expensive vet bills. After going over everything that might have contributed to her poor health, I discovered research showing that a diet high in carbs is not healthy for dogs. I now have a wonderful Golden Retriever in my life and have decided to try Visionary dog food, and I’m so happy I did. My new dog is doing so well on this food that I would never consider switching to any other dog food. My dog and I thank you for all that you do.


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