Do Dogs Need Carbs?

by Pauline Gill
    Cereals, rice and pasta are excellent energy sources.

    Cereals, rice and pasta are excellent energy sources.

    John Howard/Lifesize/Getty Images

    Dogs need energy to run, play and perform all the activities that make up their day. Energy comes from carbohydrates, protein and fat, but carbohydrates offer a direct source of energy. They are an important part of a complete and balanced diet because they spare protein from being used as energy.

    Dogs can survive without carbohydrates, but they convert protein to glucose to produce energy. If protein is used for energy, it can't build and maintain your pup's body tissues. Puppies, pregnant dogs, lactating dogs and severely ill or traumatized dogs need more energy than an adult active dog. A puppy that weighs 10 pounds and will weigh 33 pounds at maturity needs 990 calories a day. A 10-pound mature dog needs 404 calories, according to the National Academies. Carbohydrates can supply the energy necessary to keep your doggie moving.

    Carbohydrates are made up of sugars, starches and cellulose or fiber. They are supplied through grains and vegetables such as corn, rice, potatoes and beets, although your dog might be allergic to some carb sources such as corn or wheat. The sugars found in grains and vegetables are totally digestible, but the starches need to be cooked before your dog can digest and utilize them. Fiber is not digestible but helps prevent constipation and diarrhea.

    Both dry and canned dog foods that are complete and balanced must meet standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), and those standards include the six nutrients -- proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins, water and carbohydrates. Dog foods that carry the AAFCO approval must meet a nutrient profile or pass a feeding trial. No additional supplements are needed for your pup, if his food is complete and balanced.

    Because dogs exhibit omnivorous feeding behavior, they need a diet that contains proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and water, according to the Maryland-Virginia Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. When choosing a dog food, look for the AAFCO statement and the stage of life on the dog food label. If your dog has difficulty digesting the food, talk with your veterinarian. It could be the source of protein or the source of carbohydrates used in the dog food that is causing his digestive distress.

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    About the Author

    Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.

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