When choosing the right food, snack and treats for our dogs, there are quite a few factors we have to keep in mind, especially if the main source of food is store-bought commercial dry food, because in that case, we have less control over what they eat, unless we carefully check for nutritional value, ingredients, and macros.
Carbohydrates can compose only 30% or even up to 70% of store-bought pet food, coming from grains and plants, like barley, oats, brown rice, whole wheat, corn, sweet potato, potato, and millet. A dog’s diet should consist basically 40% on carbohydrates, the rest being 30% of protein and 30% of fats, any excess of these three groups of aliments would have a negative impact in our dog’s health, mood and behavior, since each has an important function in the diet and digestive system, and the role of carbohydrates is to be the main source of energy for all the body functions and activities our dog does, once in the organism, dogs can break down some carbohydrates types into glucose or simple sugar that is easy to be absorbed and used, but more complex carbohydrates require a bit more of work to be broken down.
Starches are the main components of ingredients like potato, sweet potato, peas, grains, and beans. They are digested slower, and the body needs to use additional special enzymes (amylase) to break them down, stressing out the pancreas, causing an imbalance in the digestion process, and taking too much unnecessary energy.
This became a problem mainly with dry commercial pet food because manufacturers are abusing the use of carbohydrates in the process by adding too many grains, beans, and cheap vegetables that result in them in a productive low-quality ingredient, lowering the manufacturing cost.
So, what are the main starch-loaded ingredients you should avoid in your dog food nutrition facts?
- Corn: mainly used as a filler ingredient, because it doesn’t bring any valuable component to the diet, and even though it can be included, it shouldn’t constitute the major part of the product.
- Soy: it is used by manufacturers as a source of cheap protein, but it’s also the most common allergen used by the industry and has been shown to contain harmful chemicals and substances.
- Wheat: while being nutritionally valuable for humans, our dogs can’t take it that well, it’s difficult to digest, and gluten is also a common allergen to avoid.
- Potato starch: on the contrary to potato protein, the starch, commonly used as a binding agent, contains almost no nutritional value other than starchy carbohydrates.
Another reason to avoid ingredients high in starchy carbohydrates is that they are usually very high in calories, and contain very little nutritional value, so they bring nothing to the table other than slow digestion carbs, and supplying calories we could be covering instead with nutrient-dense aliments, such as vegetables like carrots, broccoli, and celery, or fruits like apples, berries pears, that are higher in good carbs nutrients and vitamins, and make up for the best training treats and snacks for our pets.