Are carbohydrates healthy for the dog or are grains and the like even harmful? Should the four-legged friend prefer to eat “low carb”? Questions that are hotly debated among dog owners again and again.
Dogs aren’t strictly carnivores, but they should still eat mostly protein and fat. However, according to widespread expert opinion, carbohydrates are also suitable for the dog’s stomach – at least if the animal eats them in moderation. To what extent the energy suppliers should be on the menu and to what extent they can even be good for the dog, you can find out here.
What are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are named for their components: carbon and water (“hýdor” means “water” in ancient Greek). The energy suppliers can be roughly divided into several types:
● Simple carbohydrates (simple sugars) such as glucose, also called dextrose, or fructose ( fruit sugar ).
● Double carbohydrates (double sugars) such as lactose ( milk sugar ), table sugar, or maltose ( malt sugar ).
● Multiple carbohydrates (three to nine sugar molecules) such as stachyose and verbascose, found primarily in legumes.
● Complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides) such as starch and dietary fiber.
In principle, simple carbohydrates can be absorbed and utilized directly by the dog’s body as a source of energy. However, he usually does not need this immediately available energy. If dogs take in too much energy that they don’t use up, they gradually build up energy reserves in the form of fat pads – they become fat. Sugar is also bad for your teeth.
Multiple and complex carbohydrates can be beneficial for the dog. However, you should chop up the food before feeding it so that the dog can use and digest the nutrients it contains.
Low Carb is Not Necessarily Healthy for the Dog
Since carbohydrates are demonized in many human diets, many dog owners are considering a “low carb” diet for their furry friends. This is completely unnecessary because carbohydrates are not harmful to the dog. The four-legged friends have even genetically adapted to be able to use carbohydrates as an energy source – just like us, humans.
Are there Good & Bad Carbohydrates for Dogs?
On the other hand, a small amount of carbohydrates is enough for the dog. This is usually covered by regular dog food. In general, all carbohydrates are an important source of energy for the dog and are therefore good – as long as they are not consumed excessively. Because: A disproportionate consumption of carbohydrates can lead to obesity, indigestion, and dental problems, just like with masters and mistresses.
You should not feed your dog pure sugar and a lot of grain, as they provide too much energy at once, which it cannot burn off so quickly. This means that sweets, bread, cakes, and biscuits are generally taboo for dogs. Raw fruit — for example, a grated apple in a bland meal — is allowed in small amounts. Otherwise, vegetables in moderation are usually well-tolerated by four-legged friends and provide them with additional vitamins.
Positive Effect of Carbohydrates in Dog Nutrition
Some types of carbohydrates, on the other hand, can even have a positive effect on the psyche of four-legged friends. The American psychologist Dr. Holly C. Miller and her team found in a study that dogs that are supplied with enough carbohydrates can concentrate significantly better in impulse control and are more resistant to stress. The research team found that a small proportion of chopped fruit and vegetables in the diet is not harmful to the dog, but beneficial.
Conclusion: Carbohydrates as a Sensible Addition to Dog Nutrition
Ultimately, there is no precise information on how rich dog food should be in carbohydrates. It is, therefore, best to observe your dog and pay attention to digestive problems and the animal’s weight. What is certain, however, is that carbohydrates should not form the basis of dog nutrition. Even if the animals are omnivores, meat should make up the majority of their bowl, followed by fish and animal products. If in doubt, you should consult a veterinarian.