In addition to proteins and fats, carbohydrates are one of the three elementary components of nutrition. At least that applies to human nutrition.
With our dogs, things are a little different. That is why there are constant discussions and misconceptions about the right diet.
Again and again, dogs suffer from the fact that people transfer their eating habits to their four-legged friends.
But what does the thing with carbohydrates for dogs look like?
What are dog carbs?
As the name suggests, carbohydrates are made up of carbon and components of water. They are divided into three major groups based on their chemical structure:
- Monosaccharides consist of one sugar component. They include glucose, fructose, and galactose.
- Disaccharides consist of two sugar components. These include lactose, sucrose, and maltose.
- Polysaccharides consist of many sugar components. Glycogen, vegetable and animal starches, crude fiber, and roughage are polysaccharides.
How are carbohydrates digested by dogs?
In humans, the digestion of carbohydrates begins with chewing and salivating.
With the dog it is different. If the dog eats carbohydrates, its digestion only begins in the small intestine.
Multiple sugars, i.e. polysaccharides, are broken down into monosaccharides in the small intestine so that the body can absorb them. Food containing carbohydrates should therefore be processed or broken up before feeding. This means that the nutrients and active ingredients can be used by the animal.
Pre-fermentation of carbohydrates in the stomach can rarely occur. However, this only applies to sick dogs.
If more carbohydrates are fed than can be utilized, the organism stores them in the liver and muscles. When needed, these substances are released and energy is quickly released.
How many carbohydrates are healthy?
The ancestors of dogs, and wolves, eat whole prey animals in nature. It always contains carbohydrates, mainly in the stomach contents.
Carbohydrates are found in grains, but also in many fruits and vegetables. They provide about as much energy as protein.
Carbohydrate table, per 100 grams of the food
Rice has about 70 grams of carbohydrates
Quinoa has about 62 grams of carbohydrates
Amaranth about 55 grams of carbohydrates
Sweet potatoes have about 26 grams of carbohydrates
Potatoes have about 16 grams of carbohydrates
Peas about 11 grams of carbohydrates
However, a high-carbohydrate diet is not only superfluous for dogs, it can even make the animal ill.
Too many carbohydrates lead to obesity
The consequences are diseases that we also know from humans. When a dog consistently eats too many carbohydrates, the body converts these sugars into fat. Fat deposits form. The result is obesity.
Gastrointestinal diseases and dental problems are typical for too many carbohydrates.
The dog’s digestive tract is not optimally designed for digesting these substances. You will quickly notice that your dog has a problem digesting carbohydrates with digestive problems such as diarrhea.
How much carbohydrate does a dog need?
In contrast to excess, a lack of carbohydrates has little effect on the dog. The canine organism can gain energy from fats and proteins. If necessary, it can convert proteins into glucose itself.
However, this metabolic process produces waste products that the dog has to excrete again. That affects his health. It follows that carbohydrates are necessary to some extent though. An excess however can be very harmful.
Dog food without carbohydrates
If you feed your dog ready-made food, you should always check the carbohydrate content.
Unfortunately, many finished feeds have a high carbohydrate content, which often consists of grain. This is especially the case with many types of dry food. It is completely independent of whether it is a cheap or expensive provider.
Therefore pay close attention to the declaration and the order of the ingredients. The higher up the grain is listed, the more of it is contained in the finished feed.
Now grain is not inherently harmful to your dog. However, wheat, corn and the like can easily trigger allergies, which can manifest themselves in digestive problems, skin abnormalities,s or even behavioral disorders.
So it is better to use high-quality types of feed that do not contain these types of grain.
Good alternatives are rice, potatoes, peas, sweet potatoes, or the old pseudo-cereals like quinoa or amaranth.
These foods naturally contain different amounts of carbohydrates. But we don’t want to torture our dogs with an alow-carb diet either.
Always remember that small treats and especially dog biscuits usually contain a lot of carbohydrates from grain.
Rather reach for a homemade biscuit, pieces of cheese, or other delicacies that do not require carbohydrates. This is healthier for your dog and will certainly go down just as well with him.