• Hahnbee Choi, Cert. CN

The Deadly Debate: Dogs & Carbohydrates

Updated: May 15

Carbohydrates are a heavy topic between the kibble and fresh feeding world. The eternal debate between the kibble industry and raw feeders will probably never end... Taking a look at physiology and nutrition, dogs have no essential need for carbohydrates. Dogs not only don't need carbohydrates but thrive without them. But it's been embedded in vets, owners, and more that they need them to survive.



What are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are naturally occurring in sugars, starches, and fibers. All carbohydrates are created from sugar molecules. The length of the sugar chain determines the rate of digestion and absorption (simple vs. complex).


Carbs are a long chain of glucose, which is the main source of energy. Although glucose is a useful energy source, it releases a hormone called insulin to move blood sugar into the cells to use as energy. Insulin is found in both dogs and humans. It is the only hormone that lowers blood sugars, while there are 8 that raise blood sugar. With the 20-70% of carbohydrates in kibble coming from carbs, the insulin levels are drastically changed. Carbohydrates do have their place in fresh diets such as low-glycemic vegetation, but carbohydrates that are fed nowadays are not ones that were consumed ancestrally. This becomes problematic when carbs are low-quality and fed in abundance.


The most common carbohydrates found in dry food are rice bran, corn, soy, wheat, legumes, and potatoes. It is impossible to create kibble without carbohydrates as that is what gives it its shape and shelf-stable life.



Do Carbohydrates & Dogs Mix?

Carbohydrates are controversial due to the hundreds of conventional vets and board-certified nutritionists "proving the benefits" in biased studies that large kibble corporations fund.


An article in Veterinary Practice News was released that stated, "As long as the animal does not have a documented food allergy, owners shouldn't worry about whether the food contains corn, wheat or rice-the ingredients themselves are not important-and more about the quality of food overall."


Due to these statements, the public views the absurd amount of carbohydrates appropriate in modern pet foods. The quality of a food cannot be measured by ignoring the ingredients, as suggested above.


Many veterinary nutritionists have financial ties with large pet food corporations. Veterinary nutritionists receive a diploma from the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN). Major pet food manufacturers also frequently pay the tuition for DVMs studying to become veterinary nutritionists." When so and so brand states that the "expert nutritionist" claims that their food is "XYZ," keep in mind that the person has some obligation to the manufacture and is not biased free. But thankfully, the AVHVMF is pushing for biased-free nutritional information for integrative and holistic vets.


Minuscule research is done on fresh foods compared to processed due to studies being funded by the kibble corporation. But the health difference of any animal on processed vs. fresh food is undeniable.


The health effects of a carb-heavy processed diet are becoming more prevalent as time goes on. Nutritionally, carbohydrates have no species-appropriate aspect about them. Let's explore more down below.



Phytic Acid:

Phytic acid is one of the many anti-nutrients in legumes. Legumes can be found in many grain-free formulas. Anti-nutrients are natural compounds that interfere with the absorption of nutrients. Phytic acid is a phosphorus storage form in plant tissues. This means that the mineral phosphorus is packed into a molecule.