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Most of us are aware that dogs are big carnivores. Whether it’s a juicy steak or a can of dog food, it is common practice to feed your pooch some type of meat, fat, or animal protein. However, did you know that you can also give your dog a balanced meal by including carbohydrates too? If you’re unfamiliar with the role of carbs in your dog’s meal, below is some info that can help.

What Counts as a Balanced Meal

There are competing theories as to what counts as a balanced meal for your pet dog. However, what seems universal is that dogs primarily require protein and fats for adequate growth and survival. But, what about carbohydrates?

According to the American College of Veterinary Nutrition, a complete diet includes proteins and fats plus carbohydrates (including fiber), vitamins, minerals, and water. While carbohydrates aren’t as important as protein and fat, they feature in the required nutrients for healthy development.

What are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are a source of glucose that comes in the form of starches, fibers, and sugars. Carbs can also be divided into simple and complex categories. Simple carbohydrates consist of fructose, sucrose, and lactose, which require little to no digestive breakdown. They are readily absorbed from the small intestine and then converted into glucose. Sources of simple carbs include:

  • Table sugar
  • Honey
  • Fruit

On the other hand, complex carbohydrates consist of fibers and some starches that are digested more slowly than simple carbs. Complex starches require additional breakdown via enzymes produced by the pancreas and the intestinal wall before they are absorbed. When it comes to fiber, this is generally harder to digest, which is why some of this material is fermented by intestinal microbes. Sources of complex carbs include:

  • Whole grains
  • Potatoes
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Fruits
  • Nuts

What are the Benefits of Carbs?

When it comes right down to it, carbohydrates are a source of energy for your dog. Whole grains, in particular, provide slow-releasing and sustainable energy, which can help build stamina and reduce appetite in dogs who are always hungry. Carbohydrates are also a fantastic source of fiber, which can be highly beneficial to digestion and absorption in the gut.

Other benefits of carbohydrates are that they:

  • Generate heat in the body
  • Create a base for other nutrients
  • Can be converted into fat (some carbohydrates)

Carbs can also have different benefits depending on the breed and activity level of your dog. If you’re thinking to yourself, ‘does a working dog need carbohydrates has the right answers’.

How Much Carbohydrates?

While carbohydrates are part of a balanced diet for your pup, it’s important to get the ratio right. Opting for a dog food that is pure carbohydrates won’t provide your pet with adequate nutrition. Bear in mind that dogs primarily require protein and fats, so it’s best to choose foods that contain a balance of meat, whole grains, and fats. Many producers now add other healthy ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, and probiotics. If your dog is growing, they will have high energy needs, so it’s best to feed them at least 20% carbohydrates.

The Verdict

While dogs do not necessarily need carbohydrates for survival, adding these into the diet can help with energy and fiber intake. So long as you’re providing a well-balanced meal that offers plenty of protein, fats, and carbohydrates, then your dog should be trim and healthy. Just make sure that the carbohydrate source is also healthy and not just full of sugar.



Photo by Andriyko Podilnyk on Unsplash


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