The 10 Best Low Carb Dog Food in 2021

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    Vicki Smirnova
    Vicki Smirnova

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    Vicki Smirnova is a professional writer and editor who adores animals and helps readers get along well with their pets. She has been working in digital media for more than 5 years and has great experience writing content about lifestyle, including pets. Vicki specializes in dog health and nutrition, cat feeding, dog training. She is an aquarium lover and is passionate to write about fish care at home. Also, Vicki headed several websites and worked as a news editor.

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  • Updated on: 02/18/2021

Dogs are carnivorous animals descended from wild-living canines like wolves that feed on the prey they catch. This wild diet comprises high levels of meat and fat for good health.

But can — and should — dogs consume carbohydrates?

best low carb dog food

Most of our domestic dogs’ daily food is far removed from that wolf-like diet and usually comprises a mixture of meat and carbohydrates. In fact, most commercial foods are between 40%-70% carbohydrate — which is perhaps not a surprise, as these ingredients are cheaper than meat and vegetable options. And because it isn’t mandatory to declare the carb content of pet food, many labels don’t advertise this food component.

Research has shown that domestic dogs actually have different genetics related to digestion than their wild cousins. These changes helped them digest carbohydrates as they adapted to the diet they were fed by our ancestors.[1] That said, just because they can digest carbs doesn’t mean that high levels of carbs are good for them. Dogs do not need carbohydrates for normal digestion, and in general, carbs do not fulfill nutritional needs other than providing energy.[2]

At a Glance: TOP-3 Picks for Low Carb Dog Foods

Too much low-quality carbohydrate may reduce a dog’s ability to absorb nutrients from food, and there are concerns that carbs may be associated with inflammation and metabolic stress in dogs, as in humans, although this link has not been proven.

Completely eliminating carbs from a dog’s diet is unrealistic and unnecessary. Carbohydrates are used in forming the food into a hard kibble, which can play a role in keeping the teeth clean. Good-quality carbohydrates can benefit the dog by providing fiber and nutrients that they wouldn’t get from other food types.

In the chart below are the best option of low-carb foods for dogs with high quality ingredients:

Products

Features

Links

Best Overall
ketona dry dog food

1. Ketona

  • Reduces itching and inflammation.

  • Builds strong, lean muscles.

  • No by-product meals or artificial flavors.

  • No potatoes, no barley.

  • No cereal grains or tubers of any kind.

Great Formula

2. Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast Grain-Free Natural Dry Dog Food

  • With red meat bison meal as #1 ingredient.

  • L-carnitine helps burn fat.

  • Guaranteed levels of antioxidant nutrients.

Best For Healthy Weight
wellness core natural grain free reduced fat dry dog food

3. Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Reduced Fat Dry Dog Food

  • Food is made with a high concentration of protein from fresh meat ingredients.

  • Grain-free.

  • It contains probiotics and taurine for a healthy heart.

Because of these concerns, some owners would prefer to feed a low-carb diet. Low-carbs can also be recommended for dogs suffering from allergies, diabetes, hypertriglyceridemia, gastrointestinal conditions, and even cancer. Low-carb food will be about 30 percent or less carbohydrate. Look for carbohydrates from higher-quality sources, such as fruits and vegetables, and avoid foods with wheat, corn, gluten, rice, oatmeal soy flour.

Best Low Carbohydrate Dog Food (All Reviews)

1. Ketona

ketona dry dog food
The Best Overall

Ketona feed formula contains the maximum amount of protein and the minimum percentage of carbohydrates, no more than 5%. There are no by-products or artificial flavors in the feed. The meal does not contain corn, rice, wheat, and other low-quality carbohydrates.

90% of the protein in this recipe comes from meat or fish. All the protein used in the Ketone recipe is grown on a ranch in the United States. High-quality protein helps your pet maintain healthy muscles. It builds strong, lean muscles, and burns fat instead of storing it. The formula can help reduce itching and inflammation in dogs with certain allergies. It doesn’t contain byproduct meals or artificial flavors.

Pros

Cons

  • More animal protein.
  • Can be ordered online, with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  • No cereal grains or tubers of any kind.
  • No.

2. Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast Grain-Free Natural Dry Dog Food

Great Formula

This food will provide your dog with high-quality protein from red bison meat. Natural protein helps to develop and maintain muscle mass. The feed formula contains balanced amino acids, essential building materials for a healthy body.

A feed with quality protein helps provide a solid foundation for overall health. This product contains L-carnitine, which helps convert fat into energy, helping to maintain a healthy weight in the pet. The right ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids helps maintain a lipid balance for healthy skin and coat.

This diet is grain-free and gluten-free, using vegetable and fruit sources of carbohydrates. It helps support a lipid balance for healthy skin and coat.

Pros

Cons

  • L-carnitine helps burn fat.
  • Guaranteed levels of antioxidant nutrients.
  • Made free of grain and gluten.
  • Only for adult pets.

3. Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Reduced Fat Dry Dog Food

wellness core natural grain free reduced fat dry dog food
Best For Healthy Weight

Wellness CORE is grain-free dry dog food made from natural ingredients. The low-fat food is made from turkey, chicken, salmon oil, fruits, and vegetables. These healthy foods help maintain optimal health.

Grain-free formulas of Wellness dog food are recipes that consist almost entirely of meat. Each grain-free, nutrient-rich formula provides your pet with high-quality protein without grains, gluten, or artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors. Supported by omega fatty acids, antioxidants, glucosamine. Food is made with a high concentration of protein from fresh meat ingredients. It contains probiotics and taurine for a healthy heart.

Pros

Cons

  • No filler.
  • Premium protein expertly balanced with nutrients.
  • Grain-free.
  • Fairly expensive.
  • Some owners said the dog doesn’t like the food.

4. TruDog Feed Me Crunchy Munchy Beef Bonanza Dog Food

trudog feed me crunchy munchy beef bonanza dog food
Best for Healthy Digestion

Beef protein is the main ingredient in this formula, will strengthen muscles. Dogs will be able to get everything they need to grow from this feed.

The nutrition obtained from beef ingredients fills the muscles with high-quality protein, making them more elastic. Also, this food helps strengthen bones. TruDog Feed supports the attractiveness and shine of the puppy’s coat. This food plays the role of a dental health improve. Prevents food sensitivities from worsening.

Features:

  • Plays the role of a dental health improve.
  • Prevents food sensitivities from worsening.
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight.

Pros

Cons

  • Helps maintain a healthy weight.
  • Crafted from simple, nutrient-rich ingredients.
  • It may be unsuitable for already obese dogs.

5. Honest Kitchen Embark Turkey Dehydrated Dog Food

honest kitchen embark turkey dehydrated dog food
The Best Vegetables

Honest Kitchen Force dog food is a fully balanced product. All ingredients for the feed are made in the USA. This formula contains no grains, soy or GMO ingredients, or preservatives. This diet is designed for dogs of all life stages from puppies to active adults.

The recipe is rich in protein, contains a minimum amount of carbohydrates, and is correctly balanced for a full-fledged diet. If you want to feed your pet healthy food, this diet may be your best choice.

Features:

  • Foods maintain their vitamins and minerals.
  • Made with real free-range chicken.
  • All meat is hormone and antibiotic-free.
  • No corn, wheat, soy or GMO ingredients.

Pros

Cons

  • No preservatives or by-products.
  • Made in the USA.
  • No corn, wheat, soy or GMO ingredients.
  • Potatoes are not nearly as good a choice as the other ingredients.

6. Taste of the Wild Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

taste of the wild grain-free dry dog food
Best For Strong Muscles

Unique dry food Taste of the Wild is made from high-quality ingredients. This food contains a large amount of protein. Each serving will provide your dog with a variety of nutrients, antioxidants, and other vitamins and minerals that support your dog’s health.

This product does not contain grains, gluten, corn, and soy. All ingredients support healthy digestion. The food also contributes to the health of the skin and the shine of its coat. It helps support strong muscles.

Real protein-rich ingredients including bison, roasted venison and beef, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids support healthy skin and coat.

Features:

  • It helps support strong muscles.
  • Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids support healthy skin and coat.
  • Nutrient-rich and highly digestible recipe.

Pros

Cons

  • Made in the USA.
  • Nutrient-rich and highly digestible recipe.
  • Grain-free recipe.
  • No symptoms of improvement in the skin.

7. Rachael Ray Nutrish Dish Super Premium Dry Dog Food

rachael ray nutrish dish
Best For All Breeds

With this food, you can give your dog more protein. This food consists of chicken, many vitamins and minerals, fruits, and vegetables. With each serving, your dog gets a good balance of different ingredients. There are no fillers or preservatives.

All products that are part of the feed are grown on a US farm. So you don’t have to worry about your dog’s health. There is no wheat, soy, or gluten in the feed, which can also cause allergic reactions. Added rice, flaxseed, and poultry fat provide natural sources of omega fatty acids. Food Includes chicken as the first ingredient, and crisp carrots which support your pet’s immunity system.

Features:

  • Plenty of vitamins and minerals.
  • Crisp carrots support your pet’s immunity system.
  • It’s great for pets with sensitivities to certain ingredients.

Pros

Cons

  • No fillers, preservatives or corn.
  • It’s great for pets with sensitivities to those ingredients.
  • Meat pieces are not soft.

8. Orijen 6-Fish Formula for Dogs

orijen 6-fish formula for dogs
Best With Fish

This product is rich in fish proteins. Mackerel, herring, flounder, redfish, monkshood, and silver hake are included in the product.

The product is manufactured in the United States. The product is produced by a company that has been specializing in the production of pet food for many years. It supports peak skin and coat conditioning.

Features:

  • Made with salmon, herring and flounder, etc.
  • Infused with marine-sourced DHA and EPA omega 3 fatty acids.

Pros

Cons

  • Support lean muscle.
  • Made in the USA.
  • Relatively expensive.

9. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Nature’s Evolutionary Diet Adult Healthy Weight — Chicken

blue buffalo wilderness natures evolutionary diet adult healthy weight chicken
Editors Choice

BLUE Wilderness is a grain-free dog food that is rich in protein and chicken meat. The food is made from natural ingredients, without bones. It also includes sweet potatoes, peas, cranberries, blueberries, and carrots.

All these products provide your pet with all the necessary vitamins for a healthy and happy life. The food can be used to maintain weight, as it is low-carb. All products are not subjected to excessive heat treatment during production, which saves a much more considerable amount of useful ingredients. Support immune system.

Features:

  • Added L-Carnitine boosts metabolism and helps burn fat.
  • Healthy oxidative balance.
  • Support life stage requirements.

Pros

Cons

  • Grain-free formula.
  • Great balance in proteins and natural sources carbohydrates.
  • Some pieces are not appealing to dogs.

10. Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Salmon & Peas Recipe Dry Dog Food

nulo freestyle grain-free salmon and peas recipe dry dog food
Best With Probiotic

A special recipe for food will allow your dog to be full and in good physical shape. The feed does not contain grain products and avoids chicken and egg proteins, often cause allergies in dogs.

The composition contains useful and natural ingredients that improve your pet’s physical health and maintain its weight in a normal state. Omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids contribute to the dog’s good brain activity, and your pet will have a healthy coat and skin. Small kibble formula is crafted for every adult breed.

Features:

  • Omegas 3 and 6 for skin, fur and brain.
  • Small kibble formula is crafted for every adult breed.
  • BC30 probiotic for good gut health.

Pros

Cons

  • Grain-free food.
  • Made in the USA.
  • Some dogs react poorly.
  • Only for adult dogs.

Final Thoughts

Our best choice is Ketona Low-carb Dry Dog Food. This dog food contains 85% less carbohydrates than other grain-free brands. Besides, this product contains less than 5% starch and 0.5% sugar. The protein of this feed is grown in the United States. There is a guarantee of quality. You do not need to worry about antibiotics.

The recipe for this food contains 46% more protein than other leading brands. There is so much protein in this food that will promote the development of lean and energetic muscles.

READ MORE: What to Choose Wet or Dry Dog Food?

benefits of low carb diet for dogsImage by JackieLou DL from Pixabay

READ MORE: How Can I Stop My Dog from Begging Everything?

Benefits of Low Carb Diet For Dogs

A low-carb dog diet is usually grain-free food. It’s doesn’t include cereals, such as wheat or corn. Grain can be associated with allergic reactions and digestive disorders. The basis of high-quality grain-free feed is fresh meat. Such food meets the natural needs of the predator and is easily absorbed by the body.

Grain-free food is not a therapeutic diet, but a full-fledged healthy ration adapted to the lifestyle and suitable for each dog. When following the feeding norm, such a low-carb diet solves many health problems: it prevents obesity and diabetes and fights dermatological diseases. Low-carb feeds also have other benefits:

  • Meat — first ingredient. The basis of high-quality grain-free feed is selected fresh meat. Dogs are predators, and their diet should be based on meat. As a result, the pet develops harmoniously, and its digestive system is not overloaded due to unnatural grain nutrition. Animal proteins are the key to the health of the skin, coat, and musculoskeletal system. 
  • Guard against diseases. A high-quality low-carbohydrate diet reduces the risk of developing obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. Over the past 10 years, the number of dogs suffering from diabetes has increased by 80%! The reason is a sedentary lifestyle and a diet rich in carbohydrates. Grain-free recipes with a reduced carbohydrate content solve this problem and help protect the health of the pet.
  • Maintain normal sugar levels. Low-carb foods can be useful for pets with diabetes and insulin resistance. It provides a decrease in the glycemic response, normalizes sugar levels. High carbohydrates, on the other hand, lead to a constant increase in blood glucose levels. Be careful when studying the composition of the feed.
  • Normalize digestion. Grain-free food is easily absorbed by the organism. Food with dietary fiber improves the work of the intestinal epithelium. Probiotics improve digestion and strengthen the immune system. The combination of digestible fiber, probiotics, and prebiotics improves digestion.
  • It contains useful plant components. Low-carb recipes may include fruits and vegetables. They cover the dog’s need for plant-based food, but they do not overload the digestive system, unlike cereals.[3]

Tips to Choose a Low Carb Kibble

When buying low-carb dog food, you should carefully consider the composition. 

  • First, you need to check the label for an AAFCO statement that confirms that the product is complete and balanced for the stage of your dog’s life (or for all stages of life).
  • You also need to make sure that the product meets protein and fat requirements. Adult dogs need a minimum of 25 g protein and 14 g fat, and puppies need at least 56 g protein and 21 g fat.[4]
  • Since protein is the most essential nutrient for your pet, pay attention to the source of protein in the feed. As the first ingredient, you want to see a high-quality animal protein source (poultry, meat, or fish).
  • Also, make sure that the recipe includes high-quality animal fats, vegetables or fruits, and healthy supplements. 

READ MORE: Can Dogs Be Vegan?

how to choose low carb dog foodPhoto by Camylla Battani on Unsplash

FAQ

Is starch bad for dogs?

In small amounts, starch does not bring any benefit or harm to dogs’ body, and in large amounts, it can dramatically increase the level of insulin in their blood.

What percentage of carbohydrates does a dog need?

The dog should receive no more than 30% of energy from carbohydrates. High-carb diets lead to sharp spikes in blood sugar, contribute to overweight, and put excessive stress on the pancreas.

How to calculate carb percentage in dog food?

To calculate the carbohydrate level, look at the PS: GA label — this is the minimum amount of the package’s specified nutrient. Then add up the fat, fiber, ash, and moisture values and get the total percentage. If ash is not listed, then estimate around 8% for ash. Then subtract this number from 100 to get the total amount of carbohydrates.

Do carbs make dogs fat?

A dog can get fat if the amount of carbohydrates consumed is greater than the amount of energy consumed. If you make the right diet, the dog’s weight will remain normal.

Article Sources:

  1. Arendt, M. “Diet Adaptation in Dog Reflects Spread of Prehistoric Agriculture.” PubMed Central (PMC), 1 Nov. 2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5061917/.
  2. “Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats.” The National Academies Pressnap.edu/catalog/10668/nutrient-requirements-of-dogs-and-cats.
  3. Pajic, Petar. “Independent Amylase Gene Copy Number Bursts Correlate with Dietary Preferences in Mammals.” PubMed Central (PMC), 1 Jan. 2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6516957/.
  4. “Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs. A Science-Based Guide For Pet Owners.” National Academies Press, 2006, nap.edu/resource/10668/dog_nutrition_final_fix.pdf.

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