Are you feeding your best friend too many carbs? If kibble is their main meal, then they are getting a great deal of it.
On average, dog food consists of up to 30-60% grains and starches. Of course, you give your pet only the best out there, but is it bad for them?
There is a huge debate raging about whether dogs can have carbohydrates or not. While a lot of research is available on why feeding our dogs carbohydrates should not worry us, we cannot always rely on this. It is not simply a matter of whether starches are good or not, there are other factors involved.
For the love of your animal companions, it is worth looking a bit deeper. Let’s have a look at the issue from a long term health perspective.
We love our doggos. When they have a shiny coat and lots of energy, we feel great! We feel like we are doing the best we can for them. When we look deeper, though, there are proper research results showing that a high carbohydrate diet causes obesity in dogs. This happens over time.
Obesity in a creature that is not in control of what they eat is definitely a warning sign.
As with humans, obesity in a pet points to an underlying condition. And the studies above concluded that this condition is an insulin problem, developed over years of feeding commercial pet food. A problem that they found was easily corrected when switching over to a higher protein diet!
Like us, our beloved pets have a complex digestive system, complete with gut microbiomes and hormones that regulate their bodily functions.
Because they are only partially evolved to take in certain carbohydrates, their beneficial gut bacteria are not designed to thrive on all the fibers that reach the gut. Bad bacteria on the other hand, flourishes!
Insulin resistance and Inflammation
Dogs also suffer from blood sugar issues. When they eat too many carbohydrates, or of the wrong kind they have blood sugar spikes. To control these spikes, their bodies release too much insulin. Over time, their pancreas becomes increasingly inflamed. Insulin resistance sets in.
General inflammation, due to pancreas inflammation and bad gut bacteria increases, and causes obesity. Most often there are other problems that come along too, like allergies, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Barely manageable for a human, perhaps, but not always so for our fur babies. Something that could have been easily prevented.
Are all carbohydrates bad?
It comes down to the type of carbohydrate, as well as the amounts of it.
We need to be aware of the grains and starches that are cheap and easy to come by. The ones mostly added to commercial dry pet food for structure and substance. These include corn, peas, rice, potatoes and sugar. For dogs, these are simple carbs – easily converted into glucose. (Which is what starts the chain of problems in the first place, remember?)
There are some complex carbohydrates that are not too easily converted to glucose, spiking insulin levels. These can be beneficial to your dog’s health when used in moderation.
Plant based carbohydrates that have phytonutrients in them have antioxidant properties. Simply – they have the opposite effect on a dog’s health, if used in moderation. Some of these include fruits like apples and berries and a tiny amount of banana. Other great sources for dogs include veggies, like sweet potatoes, broccoli and pumpkin.
So if you ever wondered whether fruit and veggies are good for dogs, now you know!
As for how much we can feed them – We have an interesting study for you. It was found that when dogs are left to self-select their food, they only consume 7% of starches. Definitely a good guide for us!
But my dog is not sick!
You may look at your dog child and think that, because he or she is not obese or otherwise sickly, this information is not relevant. At least not right now. But these things are happening right under your nose, whether you can see it or not.
Will you wait for long term complications to set in? Or could you prevent ill health by making good choices on their behalf now? We know that you will make the best choice, based on love for your pet babies.