How to Pick a Dog Food that is High Protein, Moderate Fat and Low Carb
Learn how to compare kibble to canned, freeze dried, or gently cooked frozen dog food on a dry matter basis so you can find the one highest in protein, moderate in fat and lowest in carbs.
Watch the video or read the transcript below. Enjoy!
There's a saying. You can't outrun your fork.
You cannot exercise your way out of a diet of pasta and potatoes.
Most people understand what their bodies would look like if 50% of their daily diet came from pasta. But making these decisions for pets are difficult when carbs are not printed on labels, and comparing a kibble to a canned is like comparing apples to oranges. And the pretty pictures on the packaging are allowed to mislead them.
Did you know that of the 10 million tons of ingredients that go into pet food, .05% of it is a green leafy vegetable?
It's no wonder that 50% or more of our dogs are considered overweight or obese. A healthy diet is the foundation of a healthy body and for most dogs that means a diet that is high in protein, moderate in fat and low in starch.
So how do you compare a kibble to a canned to a freeze dried to a frozen? Well, that's what we're going to our local pet supply store to find out. So here we go.
According to our pet supply store friends there are a lot of complicated questions regarding good nutrition and what's in the bag.
Amy: "Thank you for allowing us to come in today to comparison shop at Worldly Pets."
Sue: "Thank you for coming in to do that."
Amy: "So I have a couple of questions for you. What is the #1 thing that parents look for when shopping for dog food?"
Sue: "I feel like most often they are coming in with an issue they need to solve. Digestive issues. Skin problems. Allergies."
Amy: "Do they ever ask you to help them determine which product might have higher protein or lower carbs?"
Sue: "Yes. Yes, they do. Especially if the dog has a health issue and they were sent here by the vet."
Amy: "So have you ever seen one standing in the pet food aisle with a calculator?"
Sue: "I have not, but I guess maybe we all should be because it is not an easy question to answer without a calculator."
Amy: "Thank you."
Our local pet supply store friends picked out four products for us to take a look at: a kibble, canned, freeze dried and a gently cooked frozen. So let's take a look at their macronutrients to see which one has more protein, moderate fats, and lower carbs.
Protein, fat and carbs are macronutrients. One of the best ways to look at macronutrients in food and compare one type of food to another (like a kibble to a canned) is on a DRY MATTER Basis.
Dry Matter compares apples to apples (or in this case oranges to oranges) by removing the water from the nutrient equation.
To calculate dry matter simply subtract the value of moisture printed on the label from 100.
The dry matter in our samples varied widely from 15% in canned all the way up to 95% in freeze dried.
Next, you want to divide the protein on the label by the dry matter. For the record, bacon is not a healthy protein.
The protein in our samples also varied widely from 33% in kibble up to a whopping 80% in gently cooked.
Now let's figure out the fat as a percentage of dry matter. Take the value of the fat on the label and divide it by that dry matter percentage.
Now here comes the tricky part. Carbs. Add up the percentage of protein on a dry matter basis plus the percentage of fat on a dry matter basis. Take that sum and subtract it from 100. That will give you the percentage of carbs.
In the four products we looked at, the kibble variety is loaded with 47% carbs -- which is actually on par with the amount of starch found in most kibble formulations. The only product in our analysis with low carbs was the gently cooked recipe with a remarkable 1% carbs.
On a dry matter basis, 10% or less would be considered a low carb diet.
So back to our original question of apples and oranges. Did you pick A or B as the product with the most protein?
Applying what we now know on a dry matter basis, the correct answer is A. It is the gently cooked recipe with high protein, moderate fat and low carbs.