We often have negative associations with fats and carbohydrates in our diets. So, it is not surprising that we may assume that a low fat, low carbohydrate grain free dog food formula would be best for our dogs. But, that’s not always the case. Let’s take a closer look at fats and carbohydrates and the roles they play in a dog’s nutrition and health.
The Roles of Fats and Carbs
Fats and carbohydrates both serve important functions and contribute to a healthy, complete and balanced diet. Fats provide energy, help the body absorb certain vitamins, and support healthy skin and coat. Fats have also been shown to increase palatability. Quality fats in dog food include fish oil and animal fat preserved with mixed tocopherols (a form of vitamin E).
Carbohydrates supply dogs with readily available source of energy. Grains and starchy vegetables like potatoes are excellent sources of carbohydrates, which once eaten are broken down into simple sugars and absorbed, providing a readily, usable source of energy. Many of these carbohydrate sources, like grains, also provide fiber, which is beneficial for digestion.
The Amount of Fats and Carbs in Dog Food
The percentage of fats and carbohydrates in dog food varies greatly from formula to formula, and also depends on whether the formula is intended for growth or maintenance or other lifestyle factors such as weight management, sporting dogs, etc. It is important to read the label to ensure the product is suited for your dog’s life stage and life style, as well as to ensure the product provides complete and balanced nutrition.
Grain free formulas may be thought to contain higher levels of proteins and fats with fewer carbohydrates than their grain-based counterparts. But, this isn’t true for every grain free formula. Some brands offer grain free low fat dog food formulas. And, some grain free formulas contain the same amount of carbohydrates as grain-based formulas, with pea starch, sweet potatoes or other alternative carbohydrate sources.
The Amount Your Dog Needs
The amount of fats and carbohydrates your dog needs depends upon your dog’s breed size, activity level, environment and other lifestyle factors. As a general rule, highly active dogs need more dietary energy than less active dogs. If your dog does not have an active lifestyle, he may not necessarily need a higher fat diet. For these dogs, a grain free low fat dog food formula may be a good option to help maintain an ideal body condition.
Talking to your veterinarian is the best way to determine the amount of fat and carbohydrates your dog needs. He or she can help you choose a dog food formula that best suits your dog’s life stage and lifestyle. If you don’t need a low-fat formula and want to feed grain free, one option is Purina® Pro Plan® Natural Grain Free formulas, which contain high-quality protein as the first ingredient and alternate sources of carbohydrates. No matter which formula you choose, it’s a good idea to observe your dog and monitor his weight to ensure that his food is keeping him at his best.