Dogs and carbohydrates Dogs and carbohydrates

Do Dogs Need Carbohydrates?

Read time: 4 mins

21 Dec 2019

Just like humans, dogs use carbs to give them energy and keep their tails wagging. Though humans don't have tails, now we think of it.

We usually get our daily dose by eating complex carbohydrates. Our dogs' wolf ancestors drew all of their energy needs from protein and fats – as their diet was predominantly raw meat.

Today's domestic dogs could survive without carbs, but (because they chose to live alongside humans who fed them) they've evolved to have a carbohydrate element in their diets. Including controlled amounts of low-glycemic carbs (low GI) in their food helps keep them full of bounce.

Dogs aren't complete carnivores, thanks to their close relationship with humans, our four-legged family members have become omnivores. This means that for optimal health, they need a good and balanced diet containing a range of readily digestible nutrients and vitamins.

What Percentage of a Dog’s Diet Should Be Carbohydrates?

While your pup can gain a lot of energy-enhancing glucose and all-important nutrients from the protein they eat, it’s not the only source.

According to PetMD, at least 20% of your dog’s diet should come from slower-digesting complex carbohydrates. A carb-boost leaves the protein they’ve gobbled up to be used for more important things, like creating amino acids, building and repairing muscle tissue and supporting their immune systems.

Can Dogs Digest Carbohydrates?

Yes, dogs can digest and use carbohydrates as an energy source.

The problem lies more within the quality of the carbohydrate source. Some carbohydrates, such as rice and corn, have a high-glycemic index and as a result cause an insulin spike when consumed.

This causes your pooch to have a short-lived burst of energy. Because they are so quickly digested, they can cause irritation to your dog's digestive system, which usually presents itself as sickness and diarrhoea.

It is much better to opt for slow-release carbohydrate sources that will keep those squirrel-chasing instincts going for longer.

Benefits of Complex Carbohydrates in a Dog’s Diet

Energy boost

Complex carbohydrates have a lower glycemic index, which means that they are digested over a longer period of time, as a slow release energy source, rather than all at once. This can help to sustain your pup longer for those wholesome Sunday morning walkies.

Great for their guts

On top of keeping weight healthy and freeing up any protein for more essential functions, high-fibre carbohydrates (in the right quantity) are also really good for your pup's gut Thankfully, this will usually result in the production of much more manageable poops. Phew.

Help to regulate blood sugar

While all pups can benefit from complex carbs, dogs with certain conditions will really appreciate their goodness.

Take diabetes, for example. Dog diabetes is all about irregular blood-sugar levels and inhibited glucose absorption. You can find out more about it from the Blue Cross. If your four-legged family member does have diabetes, your vet may recommend that you feed them a balanced diet rich in high-fibre foods. Mostly because they’re slower to digest, so blood-sugar levels stay steady and spikes are less likely.

Where Do Dogs Get Their Carbohydrates From?

Best sources of carbohydrates for dogs

  • White potato (cooked)

  • Sweet potato (cooked)

  • Lentils
  • Pearl barley

  • Quinoa

Carbohydrates to avoid for dogs

  • Wheat (pasta, flour)

  • Rice

  • Rye (bread)

  • Oats

Butternut Box and Carbohydrates

Butternut Box recipes have been cooked up by our expert Vet and Nutritionist team. That means you can be assured each doglicious pouch is a nutritional all-rounder. Like a high-wire walker, they're totally balanced. Just more delicious.

Our meals contain low-GI carbs such as lentils and sweet potatoes to support the good intestinal bacteria. It's these powerful little microbes which keep your four-legged family member’s stomach and digestive system happy and thriving. Increasing awareness about gut health is recognising that diverse gut bacteria promote not just healthy digestion, but also play a role in boosting immunity, reducing inflammation and influencing positive mood and behaviour. So it's worth taking care of these guys.

Here at Butternut Box, we offer complete dog meals designed around your pup's requirements. That means you don't need a degree in animal nutrition to be sure you're feeding the right thing (that'll be sighs of relief all round then).

You just need to provide us with some impawtent information like your dog’s age, breed, activity-level and body condition. Our smart algorithm will then determine the ideal diet for your furry friend, as well as the perfect portion size.