In this article you will find:
- Our Top Picks for Low Carb Dog Foods
- What is the Best Low Carb Dog Food in 2020?
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- 1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy Weight Chicken Recipe
- 2. VICTOR Select Nutra Pro Active Dog & Puppy Formula
- 3. Nulo Freestyle Turkey & Sweet Potato Recipe
- 4. Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast Formula
- 5. ACANA Appalachian Ranch Regional Formula
- 6. Wysong Epigen 90 Starch-Free Formula
- 7. The Honest Kitchen Force Grain-Free Dehydrated Dog Food
- What Are the Benefits of a Low Carb Diet for Dogs?
- Tips for Choosing a Low Carb Product
- Is a low carb diet good for dogs?
- Which carbs are good for dogs?
- Do dogs really need carbohydrates?
- What is the lowest carb dog food?
Are low carb dog foods necessary? Dogs are carnivores by nature, but not strict carnivores. Cats are obligate carnivores which means that meat is a biological necessity – their bodies are optimized to digest and absorb nutrition from animal products. Dogs, on the other hand, are scavenging carnivores.
This means that they are primarily meat-eaters but they can subsist on plant foods when meat is not available. If you think about it, this makes sense in terms of the domestic dog’s evolution. In the wild, wolves feed primarily on other animals but they don’t pick and choose which parts of the animal they eat – as they feed they may eat the stomach contents of their prey which, in most cases, consists largely of plant materials.
This brings back to the question, what role do carbohydrates play in a dog’s diet? It is important to note that dogs don’t have any specific biological need for carbohydrates – protein and fat are the most important macronutrients in a balanced diet for dogs.
Carbohydrates can, however, provide your dog with usable energy as well as dietary fiber and key nutrients. The thing to remember with carbohydrates, however, is that there are two different kinds – simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates require little digestive breakdown and the energy can be absorbed quickly into the bloodstream.
Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, take longer to break down which means they provide a steady stream of slow-burning energy – it also means that they have a lesser effect on your dog’s blood sugar levels. This is important because high blood sugar can contribute to weight gain in dogs and it may also lead to diabetes.
- Composed of 92% meat protein
- Nutrient-dense recipe
- With L-Carnitine
- Grain-free formula
- With LifeSource Bits
Our Top Picks for Low Carb Dog Foods
If you were to peruse the selection of recipes offered by most of the top pet food manufacturers, you would probably come across at least one low carb recipe. Not all pet food companies are dedicated to upholding a low carb nutritional philosophy, however. If you want to find a low carb product that adheres to your dog’s natural evolutionary diet, we recommend the following brands:
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy Weight Chicken Recipe
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VICTOR Select Nutra Pro Active Dog & Puppy Formula
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Nulo Freestyle Turkey & Sweet Potato Recipe
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Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast Formula
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ACANA Regionals Appalachian Ranch
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Wysong Epigen 90 Starch-Free Formula
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The Honest Kitchen Chicken Recipe
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What is the Best Low Carb Dog Food in 2020?
- Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy Weight Chicken Recipe
- VICTOR Select Nutra Pro Active Dog & Puppy Formula
- Nulo Freestyle Turkey & Sweet Potato Recipe
- Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast Formula
- ACANA Appalachian Ranch Regional Formula
- Wysong Epigen 90 Starch-Free Formula
- The Honest Kitchen Force Grain-Free Dehydrated Dog Food
1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy Weight Chicken Recipe
First 5 Ingredients : Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Peas, Tapioca Starch
Inspired by the diet of wolves, true omnivores whose endurance is legendary, BLUE Wilderness is a grain-free, protein-rich food that contains more of the delicious chicken your dog loves.
BLUE Wilderness Dog Food is made with more of the meat dogs love and formulated to meet the unique nutritional needs of large dogs while helping them achieve and maintain their ideal weight.
Made without extra calories, Blue Wilderness Healthy Weight recipe is formulated to help your dog achieve & maintain an ideal weight.
Exclusive LifeSource Bits are a precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins & minerals selected by holistic veterinarians & animal nutritionists that support his overall body systems.
This grain free recipe features a precise balance of carbohydrates and calories to meet your dog’s energy needs. BLUE Wilderness dog food is a product of the Blue Buffalo company.
Based in the United States, Blue Buffalo makes premium-quality pet foods featuring real meat, fruit and vegetables.
2. VICTOR Select Nutra Pro Active Dog & Puppy Formula
First 5 Ingredients : Chicken Meal, Blood Meal, Whole Grain Millet, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Yeast Culture
Victor Nutra Pro is a high-quality dry dog food. Its nutrient profile is significantly above average and it provides a significantly excellent proportion of protein and fat and a significantly low proportion of carbohydrates.
This formula is the highest-protein, lowest carb multigrain formula for dogs of All Life Stages from the Victor company.
This nutrient-dense recipe is high in protein and contains low carbs to provide sustained energy for sporting dogs and furry friends with high physical demands. It is also ideal for growing puppies and pregnant or lactating females.
Made with gluten-free grains, Victor purpose Nutra Pro Dry Food is an excellent choice for dogs with moderate to high levels of daily activity.
VICTOR Nutra Pro for Dogs is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for All Life Stages, including growth of large size dogs (70 lb. or more as an adult).
3. Nulo Freestyle Turkey & Sweet Potato Recipe
First 5 Ingredients : Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Salmon Meal, Chickpeas, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols & Citric Acid)
Though not one of the largest brands on the market, Nulo is unique from other pet food manufacturers in their commitment to offering fresh, protein-rich, and low carb recipes for dogs.
This brand currently offers two product lines – Medal Series and Freestyle. Both of these product lines are grain-free and made with high-quality ingredients like real meat and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Nulo makes sure that each of their recipes contains at least 80% protein from real meats like chicken, turkey, salmon, and lamb.
They also state that each of their recipes in low in carbs and contain only low-glycemic ingredients like lentils, chickpeas, and sweet potatoes.
They promise not to use any corn, wheat, or soy ingredients and every product is supplemented with probiotics to ensure healthy digestion.
This Nulo recipe provides complete & balanced nutrition for the maintenance of adult dogs. In other words, this formula is AAFCO approved.
This recipe is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for the maintenance of adult dogs.
This product does not contain any artificial colors, artificial preservatives, or anonymous meat ingredients.
4. Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast Formula
First 5 Ingredients : Bison Meal, Peas, Pea Protein, Tapioca, Dried Egg
With lean, red meat bison meal as the first ingredient, your dog is ensured high protein levels that help develop and sustain energy and lean muscle mass.
Bison meal is a lean, red meat protein that is rich in balanced amino acids which are important building blocks for a healthy body. Egg protein is the biological standard that all other proteins are compared against.
Rich protein sources like these help build a strong foundation for your dog's overall health. L-Carnitine helps convert fat into energy promoting lean muscle mass and healthy body condition.
A proper ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3 Fatty Acids helps support a lipid balance for healthy skin and coat.
While guaranteed levels of antioxidant nutrients like Vitamin E and Vitamin C blended with nutrient-rich vegetables and fruits such as peas, apples, blueberries, carrots, spinach and cranberries help support the immune system and optimal health.
5. ACANA Appalachian Ranch Regional Formula
First 5 Ingredients : Deboned Beef*, Deboned Pork*, Deboned Lamb*, Lamb Meal, Beef Meal
Known for their biologically appropriate pet foods, the Acana brand offers what they call “a new class of meat-based foods to mirror your dog’s evolutionary diet”.
Every one of their products is designed to mirror the high and varied inclusions of whole, fresh meats that dogs are naturally evolved to eat.
There are three distinct product lines, each filled with high-protein and carb-limited recipes made with the finest ingredients available.
The Heritage line features three recipes, each made with at least 60% meat and designed in keeping with WholePrey ratios.
The Regionals line features formulas made with fresh, regional ingredients with at least 70% meat inclusions and limited carbohydrate content.
The Singles lineup features four limited ingredient recipes made with 50% meat ingredients, each with a single source of animal protein and digestible carbohydrate.
With a total of eleven dry food formulas to choose from, Acana is another great choice for low carb pet food.
6. Wysong Epigen 90 Starch-Free Formula
First 5 Ingredients : Chicken Meal, Organic Chicken, Meat Protein Isolate, Chicken Fat, Gelatin
Established all the way back in 1979, the Wysong pet food company was one of the first pioneers in the natural and holistic pet food industry.
This company takes pet nutrition very seriously and they state that each of their products is designed for state-of-the-art nutrition.
This company designs their products to mimic the archetypal canine diet, using only the highest quality proteins and other healthy ingredients.
Wysong offers a large selection of dry food, canned food, and even raw foods and supplements for dogs.
Most of their recipes are high in protein with limited carbohydrate content – they also offer their Epigen starch-free recipe.
Another point that makes this brand unique is the fact that many of their recipes are formulated for both dogs and cats.
7. The Honest Kitchen Force Grain-Free Dehydrated Dog Food
First 5 Ingredients : Chicken, Organic Flaxseed, Potatoes, Celery, Sweet Potatoes
One of the few pet food companies that actually offers “human grade” pet food, The Honest Kitchen is committed to providing high-quality pet foods made with the healthiest ingredients.
Not only are their products made from human-grade ingredients, but they are made in human food facilities and held to the highest standards for quality.
The Honest Kitchen uses fresh meats, fish, and produce, including many certified organic ingredients.
All of their products are dehydrated as well, which means that the raw ingredients retain more of their nutritional integrity. Every recipe The Honest Kitchen has to offer is rich in protein, limited in carbohydrates, and properly balanced for complete nutrition.
They do offer some products made with whole grains, but there are grain-free recipes as well.
If you want to feed your dog a pet food that mimics the kind of natural, meat-rich diet he was evolved to follow, a low carb diet might be your best bet. Shopping for a low carb diet can be tricky, though your odds of finding one are better if you stick to the 4-star and 5-star brands.
If you need help getting started in your search for the perfect low carb dog food, consider one of our top-rated brands reviewed above. Each of them offers multiple product choices that are high in protein and low in carbs – exactly what you are looking for.
What Are the Benefits of a Low Carb Diet for Dogs?
Though carbohydrates do serve a few important purposes in your dog’s diet, that doesn’t mean he can’t do without them. Going back to the example of wild wolves, it is possible for your dog to get all of the nutrients he needs from a balanced meat-based diet.
Unfortunately, raw food diets for dogs are pretty expensive and making your own meat-based diet at home requires a good bit of research and planning. The easier and more affordable alternative is to feed your dog a commercial dog food which, in most cases, means feeding him some carbohydrates.
If you really want to mimic your dog’s natural evolutionary diet, however, you should find a product that is low in carbohydrates.
Switching your dog to a low carb diet isn’t just a means of making your dog’s diet more natural – it can also provide significant health benefits in certain cases. Low carb diets are particularly beneficial for dogs that have digestive issues like inflammatory bowel disease or food allergies and sensitivities.
These conditions can lead to chronic inflammation in the digestive tract which can not only cause symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting but can actually interfere with the absorption of essential nutrients.
Low carb diets can also be beneficial for dogs who are overweight and obese and for dogs with diabetes or certain types of cancer. The key is to make sure that your dog is still getting all of the nutrients he needs.
Tips for Choosing a Low Carb Productcheck the label for an AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy that confirms the product is complete and balanced for your dog’s life stage (or for all life stages).
Next, take a look at the guaranteed analysis to make sure the product exceeds your dog’s minimum requirements for protein and fat. Adult dogs need a minimum of 18% protein and 5% fat while puppies need at least 22% protein and 8% fat. Remember, protein is the most important nutrient for your dog so you want that number to be as high as possible.
Fat is a concentrated form of energy for your dog so it should be higher than 5% but not so high that it leads to an excess in calories that could cause your dog to gain an unhealthy amount of weight.
After you’ve determined that the product will meet your dog’s nutritional needs you should check the list of ingredients. No matter what type of dog food you are shopping for, you want to see a high-quality source of animal protein (poultry, meat, or fish) as the first ingredient.
Most commercial dog foods list at least one carbohydrate within the first five ingredients and several within the first ten. This isn’t a problem for most dogs as long as those carbohydrates come from high-quality, digestible sources and they don’t outweigh the meat-based ingredients.
For dogs that don’t have food allergies or sensitivities, whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, and barley offer decent digestibility. For other dogs, however, gluten- and grain-free options like sweet potatoes, tapioca, peas, and lentils are more digestible.
You’ll also want to make sure that the recipe includes high-quality, animal-based fats as well as fresh fruits and veggies plus beneficial additives.
In addition to evaluating a low carb pet food by the quality of the ingredients, you should also get a feel for the amount and type of carbohydrates used in the product. Unfortunately, pinpointing the exact carbohydrate content of a dog food is difficult because pet food manufacturers are not legally required to disclose this information.
You can, however, use the information provided in the Guaranteed Analysis to make an estimate. To do so, you’ll need to remember that the crude protein and fat content plus the ash, moisture, and carbohydrate content will all add up to 100%.
To calculate the estimated carb content of the product, then, you simply subtract the values you are given from 100% and whatever is left over will be the estimated carb content. Once you have that value, you can make a direct comparison of different products until you find the one that is right for your dog.
Is a low carb diet good for dogs?
You see, according to the National Research Council and compared to the other two major nutrients — protein and fat — no carbs are considered essential for a healthy canine diet. Dogs don't need corn. And they don't need wheat, barley rice or potatoes, either.
Which carbs are good for dogs?
Common carbohydrate sources used in canine diets include grains, fruits, vegetables, and a few other interesting foodstuffs. Whole grains, which contain the entire grain kernel (the bran, germ, and endosperm), are good quality carb sources.
Do dogs really need carbohydrates?
As we mentioned before, dogs have no nutritional requirement for dietary carbohydrates. They can get everything they need from a diet that contains only protein and fat. Energy metabolism in the dog can be based on fat oxidation and the breakdown of protein to produce glucose.
What is the lowest carb dog food?
KetoNatural Pet Foods finally began taking orders for Ketona, a truly low-carbohydrate kibble product. Ketona Chicken Recipe for Adult Dogs contains less than 8% carbohydrate, and that's about 75% less than other leading grain-free brands.