I’m confused! I was brought up to think that carbohydrates are part of a balanced diet, but now I’m not so sure. And what horrifies me is that when I read the label on the kibble biscuits my dog lives on, they are almost half grain carbs and I just can’t get weight off him, even on the low-calorie version. Please help clear up my confusion!

Nick Thompson advises…

Yes! Nearly all kibbles, even the ones ‘made with real meat’ and that are ‘grain free’ are chocked full of carbohydrates. Most contain 30-60 per cent carbs to keep them from falling apart. Kibble manufacturers love carbs – especially grain carbs like wheat, oats and maize/ corn – because they make for a nice biscuit that doesn’t disintegrate when touched. Your baker loves high-gluten flour because it makes spectacular bread consistency, texture and loaf shapes for the same reason. Cereals are cheap components. Just think of the price of an 800g loaf of bread in the supermarket (£1-£1.50) versus 800g of beef mince in the same store (about £5). If you were manufacturing thousands of tonnes of dog food, what would you rather put in your kibble to maintain profits? Did you know that the quantity of carbohydrate is completely unregulated in Europe? Yes, that’s right – FEDIAF (the European Pet Food Industry) has no recommendation for the minimum or maximum amount needed for health. They even say that carbs are not required. I agree. I don’t think dogs need cereal carbohydrate at all. They get fibre from bone mainly, but also from insoluble fibre from vegetables, grasses, herbs and berries. No wheat, oats or maize/ corn is necessary.

To answer your question, I think your dog is most likely eating too much grain carb. This may be a big reason why you’re finding it difficult to shed his pounds. My answer is to consider a raw diet made of meat, bone, fat and some vegetables. They are easily available from lots of manufacturers if you search for ‘raw food for dogs’ online. Side effects may include better poos, a glossier coat, fresher breath and cleaner teeth. My experience with these ready-made foods or homemade raw foods (as long as the diet is complete and balanced), is that dogs usually slim down to their ideal weight very nicely and are easy to maintain at their new excellent condition.

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