If you know anything about canine nutrition, you know that there is a LOT of conflicting information. Simply walk down any pet food aisle and you’ll see all sorts of marketing terms designed by pet food companies to confuse you.
From “grain free” to “all natural”, it can be impossible to navigate the world of pet food and figure out the best dog food. But lucky for you, we at Visionary Pet are here to help!
Low Carb Dog Food
If you want to skip this highly entertaining blog on low carb dog food and just know the key takeaway, then here it is:
Dogs should be powered by protein and fat - not carbs.
But for those of you who want to know why low carb dog food is the right choice for all dogs, keep reading. We’ll start at the very beginning - with the introduction of carbohydrate content to dog food.
The History of Carbs in Dog Food
During World War II, all available metal supplies were allocated for the war effort in countries across the world. And yes, that included the metal used to make cans for wet dog food.
Companies were forced to innovate - and unfortunately for the health of our dogs - that meant using byproducts from the cereal industry to create the first dry dog food. This carb heavy dry dog food could be packaged into bags, making it a food that could be mass produced despite the lack of metal for packaging.
But more importantly, this pivot to dry dog food did something amazing for pet food manufacturers: it allowed them to mass-produce a cheap and high-margin dog food that was easy for pet parents to store and feed.
The Introduction of Extrusion and Kibble
Purina introduced the first dog food kibble in 1956, and the pet food industry never looked back. The kibble was produced using a process called extrusion: which uses heat and pressure to blend wet and dry ingredients into a shelf-stable matrix, AKA kibble.
If you’re paying attention, you’ll know I haven’t said anything about canine nutrition yet. And that’s because the best diet for dogs did not factor into the history of pet food production until recent years.
The goal in pet food production has not been to create the best diet for your dog (a low carb dog food), the goal has been to create the most valuable business possible. And that’s why carbohydrate content is SO high in almost all dog foods to this day!
Why Does Most Dog Food Have Carbs?
The answer to this question is simple. Most dry dog foods are high in carbs because carbohydrate-rich ingredients are cheap and both simple and complex carbohydrates are easy to manufacture with.
If these 2 conditions weren’t true, then the state of canine nutrition would be in a better place. But unfortunately for dogs around the world, it’s much easier to make a food with a high amount of carbs - compared to a high quality food that’s rich in protein and fat.
While pet food companies have been doing a disservice to canine nutrition for decades, things are finally changing. We now have science to support the idea that dogs should eat a low carb dog food for optimal health. And with advances in technology, we now have easy and affordable low carb dog food that any pet parent can buy!
Low Carb Dog Food: The Enlightened Choice!
Here’s something you might now know: dogs actually have no nutritional need for carbohydrates. In fact, high carbohydrate diets damage the health of your dog over time by elevating average blood glucose, increasing systemic inflammation, and reducing insulin sensitivity.
The science is clear: dogs should be powered by fat and protein - not carbs. But one question still remains: how do you choose the right low carb food for your dog?
Grain-Free vs Low Carb Dog Food
In recent years, grain-free dog food has fallen out of favor due to concerns about a link between grain-free dog food and heart issues like dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). But while some grain-free dog foods can lead to issues like DCM, the term “grain-free” actually doesn’t tell us much about if that food at all. Let me explain…
Grain-free tells you one thing about a given food: that it doesn’t contain grains. However, the term “grain-free” says nothing about any other aspects of that food. And in fact, a grain-free dog food can still be very high in carbohydrate content!
The issue with grain-free foods is that many of them use low quality protein sources like soy protein or pea protein isolate. These proteins are not derived from animals, and thus are low in essential amino acids like taurine.
Taurine is an essential amino acid that is found mostly in skeletal muscle and heart tissue. If you feed your dog a dog food with insufficient taurine - whether grain-free or not - your dog can develop issues like DCM over time.
When evaluating the best food for your dog, don’t pay attention to marketing terms like grain-free. The most important factors for selecting the best dog food are:
1. Macronutrient breakdown (fat, protein, carbs); and
2. Quality of protein (animal vs plant-pased)
Let’s evaluate both of these points in full detail.
The Right Macronutrient Breakdown: Feed Low Carb Dog Food
People often overly focus on the minutiae of nutrition, but neglect to ask the most important question: why do we eat? The answer is that we eat for fuel and to give our bodies the protein we need to construct a healthy, functioning body. And the same goes for our dogs.
Dogs need the amino acids contained in high quality protein to build healthy bodies. They also need fuel to maintain clean and consistent energy all day along. You can get fuel by eating fat or carbohydrates, but if you follow the science, it’s clear that fat is the best choice of fuel for your dog.
Based on the latest research, dogs should be powered by a diet that is high in fat and protein and very low in digestible carbs. Unfortunately, the traditional labeling format for dog foods is confusing even for informed pet parents.
Despite what every other blog on pet food nutrition tells you, there’s only one REAL way to determine the macronutrient content of any given dog food: send it to a reputable lab for nutritional analysis.
Unfortunately, this is a costly and time-consuming way to determine macronutrient content - so the only solution is to purchase dog foods that clearly list macronutrient content and create foods that are high in fat and protein, and very low in carbs.
We’ll save you some time, there’s only one: Visionary Pet Foods.
We make low carb dog food for dogs of all breeds and life stages. And unlike everyone else, we use a standard nutrition label to outline exactly how much fat, protein and carbs are in our food. That way, you know exactly what goes into the low carb food that you’re feeding your dog!
Protein Quality: Ensure Your Dog Gets All Essential Amino Acids
The second thing to look for in a high quality low carb dog food is the type of protein used. Dogs are carnivores who thrive on animal protein. Animal-based proteins contain all the amino acids in the right quantities to keep your dog healthy and thriving for years.
Some companies attempt to mislead you with claims like “complete protein” or “all essential amino acids”. But the truth is, when it comes to protein quality, animal-based protein is the correct choice for your dog.
While protein sources like pea protein, soy protein, or even new options like yeast protein do contain all essential amino acids - they don’t contain these amino acids in the right proportions. They are all low in amino acids like taurine and methionine, which your dog needs to thrive.
So...when evaluating the best low carb dog food for your dog, make sure you choose a food that uses only real meat animal protein.
Validating your Low Carb Dog Food
OK, so you’ve found a high quality low carb dog food and you’re ready to transition your dog to their forever food. You found a food that’s high in fat and protein, very low in digestible carbs, and uses only real meat animal protein.
Now, there’s just one thing left to do: validate your dog’s low carb dog food!
If your dog’s food is truly high in fat and protein and low in carbs, then your dog’s food is a ketogenic dog food. What that means is that your dog’s food will promote ketosis - a natural metabolic state where your dog’s primary fuel source is free fatty acids derived from fat instead of glucose derived from carbs.
Measuring Blood Glucose and Ketones
A low carb, ketogenic diet is different from any other diet in the world because it’s the only diet you can actually measure!
Any dog food can claim to be organic, or grain-free, or any of the classic dog food marketing terms. But there's one major problem with these claims: without visiting the product plant and seeing the food be made, there is no realistic way to validate those claims. But a low carb, ketogenic diet is different!
You can validate your low carb dog food easily by measuring blood glucose and blood ketones, and the process is simple.
1. Purchase a Precision Xtra Blood Ketone and Glucose Meter
2.Measure your dog’s blood glucose and ketones
3. Compare your results to the standard values that represent ketosis in dogs. You can learn more about this in KetoPet’s free online eBook.
If you need any help measuring your dog’s blood glucose and ketones, we recommend downloading KetoPet’s free online eBook. In that eBook, you’ll find complete info on the reference ranges for ketosis and how to accurately measure your dog’s blood glucose and ketone values.
Or, you can do what thousands of pet parents looking to feed a high quality low carb dog food have done with success: feed Visionary Pet.
Visionary Pet: Low Carb Dog Food
At Visionary Pet, we make low carb dog food for dogs of all breeds and life stages. We use only animal meat protein - and never add carbs or fillers of any kind!
Our low carb dry dog food is approximately 60% fat, 39% protein, and 1% carbohydrates as a percentage of total calories. We never add common filler ingredients like corn, potatoes, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, or other sugary fruits and vegetables. And we always list our nutritional info in a clear way, so you know exactly what’s in your dog’s low carb dog food!
Unlike other pet food companies, our dog food is very low in carb content - with less than 1g net carb per cup! And we’re obsessed with optimal nutrition for dogs, so if you have any questions about our food or canine nutrition, we’re here to help!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions at all - and we’ll be happy to answer anything we can.
Thank you for reading, and as always…