Have you ever noticed that the amount of carbohydrates in dog food is never listed on the back of the bag? If you look at the guaranteed analysis, you will find the % protein, % fat, % fiber, and % moisture – but not the % carbs! That’s because that is all that is required by law to be listed.
But the amount of carbs in a food can be an important thing to consider when choosing what to feed your dog! Studies show that high carb diets can contribute to obesity
But no worries – it is easy to figure out, it just involves some quick math. We will show you how to calculate the carbs in your dog’s kibble.
The % of all macronutrients in a food will always add up to 100%. This includes protein, fat, fiber, moisture, and ash.
Sometimes the % ash might not be listed, but it is typically about 8%, so that is what you should use if it isn’t listed on the bag. By the way, ash might sound weird, but it doesn’t mean they literally add ash to your dog’s food! Ash is just the mineral content in the food – like calcium and phosphorus.
Let’s do an example. Here is the guaranteed analysis from a popular kibble:
First, for the most accurate comparison, let’s convert protein and fat to dry matter basis like we learned how to do in our previous Kibble Math Part 1 article. 100 – 12% moisture = 88% dry matter. 26% protein divided by 88% dry matter multiplied by 100 = 29.5% protein on a dry matter basis. Doing the same for the other macronutrients gives us 18.2% fat and 3.4% fiber on a dry matter basis.
Technically, fiber is a type of carbohydrate, so some people include fiber in the carb % value. However, I prefer to keep them separate, because fiber has such a different role in the body than other types of carbs.
Now, we just subtract protein, fat, fiber, and ash from 100. 100 – 29.5 (protein) – 18.2 (fat) – 3.4 (fiber) – 8 (ash) = 40.9% carbs. (For the record, the guaranteed analysis we are using in this example is Purina Pro Plan Savor Chicken & Rice.)
That may seem like a lot, but actually, it’s about average as far as kibble goes – yes, even grain free kibble. Unfortunately, it is difficult to make a kibble low carb because carbs and starches are a big factor in what helps keep kibble held together into little brown nuggets. However, there are a number of high quality, low carb dry foods on the market. You’ll also be surprised to learn that some of the popular high-quality formulas actually have as much or more than Purina Pro Plan.
For comparison, here is a nifty table with some popular dry dog foods and their % carbs (on a dry matter basis, and not including fiber).
|Acana Free-Run Poultry||33.2% carbs|
|Annamaet Ultra||31.4% carbs|
|Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain||35.3% carbs|
|Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural||24.8% carbs|
|EVO Red Meat||18.1% carbs|
|Fromm Four Star Salmon Tunalini||39.2% carbs|
|Petcurean GO! Sensitivity + Shine Turkey||43.1% carbs|
|Merrick Duck & Sweet Potato||26.3% carbs|
|Nature’s Logic Lamb||37.2% carbs|
|Nature’s Variety Prairie Chicken||41.9% carbs|
|Nature’s Variety Instinct Ultimate Duck||17.6% carbs|
|Nulo Freestyle Salmon & Peas||35.9% carbs|
|Orijen Six Fish||22.6% carbs|
|Taste of the Wild High Prairie||32% carbs|
|Victor Hi Pro Plus||32.8% carbs|
|Wellness CORE Original||32% carbs|
|Whole Earth Farms Turkey & Duck||43.1% carbs|
|Wild Calling Elk, Whitefish, & Turkey||32.6% carbs|
|Zignature Zssentials||33% carbs|
|Wysong Optimal Performance||13.6% carbs|
A quick note: Carbohydrates are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to analyzing kibble. Just because a food is a low carb doesn’t mean it is the best option for your dog.