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Disclaimer: I eat a modified ketogenic diet that is low in carbs, some call it a carnivore diet and some call it zero carb diet. I also feed my 2 dogs on a raw prey diet. So I am 100% biased towards low carb diets for humans and dogs, and I mean really low carbs. In fact my diet is closer to my dogs, than it is my wife’s hahah. So please don’t get touchy if you feed your dogs kibble. I am not preaching that you should change, and I am not saying all dogs on kibble are unhealthy. I am just highlighting that similar marketing strategies are used to market human and dog food, and very little of what is said is logical.
I stumbled on the below article when doing a bit of research for my blog regarding human consumption of grains. Turns out the dog food industry is peddling the same methods as human food companies are.
The article is called “why grain free pet food is’t better and carbs are good”. Obviously this article immediately got my attention, and is a good example of how to manipulate people with half truths and half baked science. It is a tremendously effective strategy in human food marketing too. The article is here:
So what does the article say:
- He starts off by explaining what a carb is and to point out grain-free does not mean carb free. So he is basically saying all kibble has carbs in regardless, but don’t worry because he is going to tell you why carbs are good for dogs.
- He points out that your dog is not a wolf. This is clever because it nullifies anyone who would say I feed my dog an ancestral diet based on a dogs evolution. He tries to prove dogs are different to wolves due to some gene differences, which enable the breakdown of starch (complex carbohydrates). So he is saying dogs have a slightly better method of digesting carbs than wolves, he does not show dogs should or are efficient at digesting carbs. They are just a bit better than wolves. Humans also have the same proteins in our mouths, to help us break down starch. It does not give humans or domesticated dogs the ability to break down plant cell walls. Which is crucial for animals that requires plant food as an energy source. Note all carbohydrates stem from plants. However he also misses the point entirely, that the digestive system has next to nothing to do with the gene differences he notes. A domesticated dogs digestive system is that of a top tier predator, everything from the PH of their stomach to the length of the colon cries out Carnivore. Plants are not needed at all. I mean Zero, dogs can get all the vitamins and nutrition from meat.
- He ends the chapter by saying dogs can equally digest grain-free and grain kibble just as well. However he never asks the question should dogs be given either.
- Again the next chapter he laughably says don’t worry they will get all the starch and glucose present from both forms of kibble, like its a good thing. Yes all the glucose (SUGAR) in kibble will be digested by your dogs. Thank god no sugar will be lost.
- He ingeniously backs up his glucose folly, by doubling down on it. You see a dogs brain like a humans requires glucose to survive. So he is suggesting if a dog or human does not eat glucose they will die. Unfortunately in the same chapter he describes how dogs and humans can make glucose from protein (amino acid), and completely misses out that one of the main functions of the liver is to create glucose. In fact excess dietary glucose crossing the blood brain barrier, is one of the reasons why we get Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Dogs like humans can and should create there own glucose, and both can produce Ketones for energy. Therefore carbs are not essential for a dogs glucose requirement.
- The next myth he peddles is the classic “calorie in calorie out”, your dog is fat because you are feeding it too much or not walking it enough. Simple but wrong, same as humans should eat less and go to the gym more. This has been applied to humans since the 1970’s and is incredibly outdated. Hormones drive weight a lot more than calories, although obviously you don’t want to go crazy with calories. The calorie in calorie out dogma was first started by coca-cola funnily enough, as they were trying to deflect from the case against sugar. They also helped fund the attacks on saturated fat, and won. By restricting calories you could be under nourishing your dog. I believe it is more important to ask what you are feeding your dog, not how much.
- He pretty much finishes off by saying its all a con, all kibble is the same just marketed differently. Nice to admit, but I don’t think he meant it to come across like that.
You will notice at no point in the article does he prove that dogs need carbs, he just states they can be digested. He has a bold title saying carbs are good, then writes about how dogs can digest them. So you come away with a feeling dogs should eat carbs. You see the whole article isn’t about grain-free vs grain kibble, the underlying point of the article is to reinforce that you are OK to carry on buying kibble.
You see the exact same methods applied to humans as you do dogs. Its not what you eat, its how much, carbs are essential etc. The only reason humans and dogs are pushed grains and vegetables is because they are cheap. If dog food companies could farm elephants cheaper than grow wheat, all kibble would be made from elephants and there would be many a study funded to convince you to buy elephant kibble.
In the Keto forums I am in you often see memes along the line of “what we class as healthy whole grains, farmers use to fatten cattle”. I personally just lump all carbs into that pot now. The Standard Western Diet is generally 40-65% carbs, 10-35% protein, 20-35% fat. I checked out a cheap, medium, and expensive kibble brand. Guess what they all came in at around 50% carbs, 30% protein, and 20% fats (which included vegetable oils which are glorified poison to both human and dogs). I did find kibble that was different, for example one from a brand called Eden was 80% protein to 20% fruit & veg. These were specifically marketed as ancestral appropriate kibble. However you still have issues with the ravages of processing and what ingredients are being used. So kibble is very similar macros to the current standard western diet for HUMANS. Which is crazy. Humans are the most obese and disease ridden animals on the planet, dogs are the second, and domesticated cats the third unfortunately. The same dietary mistakes are being made for humans and our pets who we love. We even treat these mistakes the same. Rather than resolving dietary issues, we over medicate and vaccinate our pets. What I also found interesting is that I am guessing Dog Food nutritional content rules are different. They often tell you how much protein and fat is in 100g of kibble, but they don’t mention the total carbs. Although its easy to work out. This suggests to me people do have a subconscious understanding that dogs shouldn’t be eating loads of carbs.
There is a rule of thumb I have, it is the more a product states how many vitamins/minerals/fibre it has been fortified with; the more I avoid it. I apply the same reasoning to my dog’s diets. This is why I do not feed them dry dog food. You see they fortify something that has no nutritional value, to make it appear healthy. Just look at the breakfast cereal isle. Now unfortunately they generally fortify with synthetic vitamins and minerals as they are cheaper, humans can not use these efficiently and I am guessing it is the same for dogs.
Just a thought is the long term aim of kibble for dogs really a way of getting humans to eat it eventually, there is an episode of Black Mirror for you.