Many pet owners avoid dog foods containing too many carbohydrates. If you want a high protein and low-carb dog diet, you should know about the types of commercially foods available.
High Protein Defined
Commercial dog food production follows the standards put forth by the Association of American Feed Control Officers (AAFCO). The minimum amount of protein in dog food for adults is 18 percent and 22 percent for puppies and diets for pregnant and nursing dogs. More active dogs, such as sport dogs, require about 25 percent, and athletic dogs, like sled dogs, around 35 percent. A high protein dog food is one in the higher range above 22 percent up to 65 percent for a normal dog. You should choose the level of protein based on your dog's own level of activity.
If you look at the ingredients for most commercial dog foods, between 30 and 70 percent are carbs. A low-carbohydrate food will be around 30 percent or less. Seek carbs from higher quality sources like fruits and vegetables. Avoid foods with wheat, corn, gluten, brewer's rice, oat meal, and soy flour.
How to Calculate Carbs in Dog Food
Some pet owners seek a lower percentage of carbs in comparison to other foods whereas others want a grain-free diet. Manufacturers are not required to print the carbohydrate percentage in their food. You can estimate by taking the protein, fats, and moisture contents and subtracting them from 100 percent. Then, add about 8 percent ash. For example, a food has 50 percent protein, 10 percent fat, and 10 percent water. Subtract 70 percent from 100 percent, then subtract 8 percent, which leaves 22 percent carbohydrates.
A protein content around 9 percent may not seem high. Canned food is primarily moisture, so it's 9 percent by volume of the remaining ingredients. For a canned food with a typical moisture of 75 to 78 percent, the remaining ingredients are 22 to 25 percent, and 9 percent is about 30 percent of the total ingredients.
High Protein Low Carb Dog Food Choices
Many higher protein and low-carb dog food choices may be harder to find but may be available at specialty pet stores and online.
Wysong Epigen 90
Top on Dogfood.co's list of high protein dog foods, Wysong Epigen has 63 percent meat-based protein. It's also the only starch-free food, based on Wysong's claims. The fiber content is 3 percent and fat 16 percent. Top ingredients include organic chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, potato protein, and meal protein isolate. A 5-pound bag is about $28, a 20-pound box is about $100, and a 40-pound case is nearly $200.
Nature's Variety Instinct Ultimate Protein
This dry dog food is on top lists of high protein food because 95 percent of the protein comes from chicken or duck instead of plant-based proteins or animal meal. The diet is also grain, corn, wheat, soy, and by-product meal free. The chicken or duck formula dry food has 47 percent protein, 17 percent fat, and 3 percent fiber. Top ingredients include chicken or duck, eggs, tapioca, chicken fat, ground flaxseed, and natural flavor. The chicken version gets a 4.9 out of 5 star customer rating with the duck receiving 5 stars. A 20-pound bag of the chicken or duck is about $80, and a 4-pound bag of the small breed bites is about $27.
Orijen Tundra Dog Food
Orijen gets a 5-star rating from Dog Food Advisor. Their Tundra Biologically Appropriate Grain-Free Goat, Boar, Venison, Duck & Mutton Dry Dog Food has 38 percent protein and 16 percent low-glycemic carbohydrates. The first five ingredients are fresh goat, fresh wild boar, fresh venison, fresh artic char, and fresh duck. A 25-pound bag is around $114.
American Journey Limited Ingredient Diet
This canned food receives a 5-star rating from users on Chewy.com. The Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe is grain-free and has 9 percent protein, 6 percent fat, 1.5 percent fiber, and 78 percent moisture. The top five ingredients in this low carb wet dog food are chicken, chicken broth, chicken liver, sweet potatoes, and flaxseed. A case of 12 12.5-ounce cans is about $24.
Merrick Backcountry Grain Free 96% Real Beef
The first five ingredients of this canned food are deboned beef, beef broth, beef liver, dried egg product, and dried yeast culture. It gets a 5-star customer rating. It's grain-free with 10 percent protein, 3.5 percent fat, 3 percent fiber, and 78 percent moisture. A case of 12 12.7-ounce cans is about $35. Although it's canned, the food is a loaf that can be sliced or mashed up for your dog to enjoy.
Find the Right High-Protein Food for Your Dog
Remember every dog is different so you may need to test out a few brands. Make sure the protein level is appropriate for your dog's daily activity level.