Counting the carbohydrates in dog food

When you look at a dog food label, do you notice that it does not indicate the amount of carbohydrates in the food? Ever since we started scrutinizing pet food labels, we are astounded by the carbohydrate content of many of the popular brands of pet foods. Dogs are designed to be primarily meat eaters and many holistic veterinarians recommend that the carbohydrate content should be 14-20%. Studies have shown that too much carbohydrates in the diet can cause undue stress for the kidneys over time

A typical label on a packet of dry food will include macronutrients such as the following:

Minimum % protein

Minimum % fat

Minimum % fibre

Minimum % moisture

The % tells the number of grams per 100 grams of food. We can calculate the amount of carbohydrates using the following formula:

100% – protein – fat – moisture = % of carbohydrates (note: do not subtract fiber as it is part of carbohydrates)

For example, if the label list Protein 22%, Fat 12%, Fiber 5%, Moisture 10%

To calculate % carbohydrates: 100 – 22 – 12- 10 = 56%

For canned or raw foods, this will require two extra steps to convert the contents into dry and wet matter, so that it can be compared to the dry food

The equation is as follows:

Wet matter = 100 – (% protein + % fat + % ash + % moisture)

Dry matter = 100 – % moisture

% carbohydrates = Wet matter/Dry matter

For example, if the label lists Protein 17%, Fat 7%, Ash 2%, Moisture 70%

We first convert to dry and wet matter first

Wet matter = 100 – (% protein + % fat + % ash + % moisture):   = 100 – (17 + 7 + 2 +70) = 100 – 96 = 4% or 0.04

Dry matter = 100 – % moisture:  = 100 – 70 = 30% or 0.3

% carbohydrates = Wet matter/Dry matter = 0.04/0.3 = 0.134 or 13%

Pet food labeling does not contain the amount of carbohydrates, so we as pet parents have to do the counting ourselves. It is a simple calculation and do try this exercise on the dry or canned food that you are currently feeding your dogs. One of the assignments I completed as part of the canine nutrition course was to review popular pet food and determine the carbohydrate content in the food. It was really enlightening to discover that the brands of dog food which we previously fed our two Chihuahuas contain a high carbohydrate content. Ever since we started home cooking for our dogs, both of them have lost an average of 350g and this translates to about 8% loss for a small dog. They are also more active and look forward to their meals each time. One of their all-time favourite meals is our PFL grain free meat loaf which contains meat, eggs and organic vegetables. It also warms our hearts each and every time  to see the shelter and street dogs enjoying our meatloaf.

Paws Fur Life, canine massage & nutrition. A healthy dog is a happy dog!