How Dogs Use Ketones And Glucose


Let’s picture for a moment your dog’s metabolism (the way they process their food and use it for fuel) is a body of water. Well, two different bodies of water.  

First, picture ocean waves on the seashore. The waves rise, sink, and inevitably crash, ebbing from one large wave to another.  

This is your dog’s body in Glycolysis...getting energy from carbs likes waves crashing on the shore. In Glycolysis, there is an insulin spike (as the wave rises), absorption of glucose and storage of fat (as the wave falls), and finally, there is the sugar crash once the blood sugar spike is cleaned up (the crashing wave).  

Dogs in this state receive energy in a sporadic manner, leaving the dog exhausted. 


 Second, picture a steady, even-flowing stream. The water flows calmly and peacefully, fueled by a never-ending supply of just the right amount of water.  

This is your dog’s body in Ketosis...getting energy from fat as a stream gets its water: peacefully and evenly. When dogs use their fat for energy, energy flows at exactly the right pace (no sugar crash). With much less insulin secreted by the pancreas and fat being used for fuel instead of being stored, energy flows at exactly the right pace...never too much, never too little. 

Dogs in this state receive energy from ketones in a self-regulated way, leaving the dogs energized and healthy.  


How dogs use glucose

Glycolysis is one metabolic way for dogs to get energy from glucose (carbs).  

Here’s an overview of how Glycolysis works: 

  • A dog eats carbs (or an excess amount of protein)

  • Carbs (from sweet potatoes to rice) are processed in the canine body as glucose 

  • In order to actually get energy (ATP) from glucose, glycolysis occurs. Glycolysis is the breakdown of glucose from carbohydrates in a series of steps. Along the way, some ATP and NADH are released and ultimately pyruvate is formed. THEN, pyruvate continues on to the Krebs cycle inside of the mitochondria in order to produce more NADH and then ATP (the energy currency of the cell). (source

  • When glucose is detected in the body, insulin is secreted from the pancreas into the bloodstream to regulate blood sugar levels. Insulin tells the muscles, cells, and fat tissues to absorb excess glucose. Effectively, insulin brings blood sugar levels down to a normal place by forcing the body to absorb glucose.  

  • If there is excess glucose in a dog’s body (since cells and tissues can only hold so much glucose), this glucose gets stored as glycogen in the liver. Glycogen can be used by the body at a later time for energy as glycogen gets broken down back into glucose and then can be used for energy later in the process of Glycolysis.

  • At a certain point when there is too much glucose-turned-glycogen in the liver, glycogen, through the process of Fatty Acid Synthesis, is converted to fatty acids. These excess fats are stored as fat in the tissues.  

What this means: getting energy from glucose (for dogs) is a highly inefficient process that involves a series of complex chemical reactions. For canines who have no biological need for excess carbs (dogs will get all the natural glucose they need through gluconeogenesis), excess glucose is stored in the body as FAT. In this state, fat is not being used for fuel.  

The accumulation of fat during Glycolysis is what makes dogs fat. Not fat itself.  

Over time, with insulin spikes and a series of chemical reactions that force dogs’ cells to essentially make room for excess fat, dogs are at an increased risk to develop diabetes, obesity, and even to fuel cancer with glucose. 

THIS is why we shouldn’t fuel dogs with glucose. Glucose is a toxic, inefficient, cancer-feeding, fat-storing form of energy that is highly inappropriate for a carnivorous canine. Period. 

HOW dogs use ketones 

Ketosis is the other metabolic pathway for dogs to get energy directly from fat.  

Here’s an overview of how Ketosis works:  

  • A dog eats food high in fat, adequate in protein, and low in carbs 

  • Instead of a dog’s body going into Glycolysis and getting energy from glucose, a dog’s body will switch metabolic pathways in order to get energy from fat through Ketosis

  • In a low-carb environment, a dog’s body is programmed to save excess protein (during the transition from Glycolysis to Ketosis) at first and use amino acids in order to create glucose for fuel. Eventually, after time, dogs’ bodies will switch metabolic pathways altogether from using glucose to using ketones-from-fat for fuel.  

  • On a hormonal level during Ketosis, insulin levels drop and insulin is not released as much as it is during Glycolysis (since there is very little glucose in the body). Instead, glucagon levels rise to regulate low blood glucose levels (to make sure there is enough blood glucose). 

  • Now, typically, certain muscles and tissues rely exclusively on glucose for fuel (such as the brain) and cannot use fatty acids for fuel. During Ketosis, Ketone bodies that are produced in the liver can actually cross the blood-brain barrier (since they are soluble enough) and provide fuel to the brain and other tissues. Additionally, various tissues can actually take ketones and produce acetyl-CoA...which enters the Krebs cycle and then this leads to the generation of ATP (energy). In Ketosis, the body adapts to use fat-for-fuel optimally and efficiently!   

What this means: As we’ve mentioned before, “Ketone bodies are energetically more efficient than pyruvate or fatty acids due to their greater hydrogen/carbon ratio and to the fact that, unlike fatty acids, they do not uncouple mitochondria” (source).   

It is widely known that, over time, using fatty acids for fuel actually causes great metabolic stress and is definitely not optimal: 

“Fatty acids cause oxidative stress and alterations in mitochondrial structure and function. The uncoupling of the oxidative phosphorylation is one of the most recognized deleterious fatty acid effects and several metabolite transporters are known to mediate in their action.” (source

On the other hand, when dogs use fat for fuel through Ketosis, this reduces metabolic stress and optimizes a carnivorous canine’s metabolic system since fat is the optimal fuel source for dogs. Less metabolic stress equals a reduced chance of metabolic disease and a healthier, happier pup.



We HAVE TO work with our dogs’ bodies through Ketosis rather than putting them in a position of metabolic stress with Glycolysis.  

At Bones & Co., we often get told that we are capitalizing on a “fad” or “trend” making Keto food for dogs. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.  

We are pushing boundaries and bringing to light scientific facts that other Big Pet Food corporations have conveniently forgotten about. We are doing what no one else is doing...truly putting dogs FIRST, no matter the cost. 

We know that by fueling our dogs optimally, in a way that is the most metabolically-appropriate (KETO), we can save dogs’ lives. That’s our ENTIRE mission and purpose...and we won’t stop until we accomplish our goals.  



If you’re ready to become a #DogFoodRebel and join our FIGHT to feed dogs the right way, please JOIN OUR TRIBE NOW.

We cannot accomplish our goals without a dedicated and devoted group of pet parents LIKE YOU at our side. 

We are DONE being told that kibble is the norm and that there’s nothing we can do but hope for the best with our dogs. We are READY to take action right now and need every hand + paw on deck to help. 

Power To The Paws // Power To The Pet Parents, 

Your Bones & Co. Tribe 

Have specific questions about your dog’s health? While B&C cannot give medical advice, we recommend seeking advice from a Holistic Veterinarian for your best furry friend (BFF). B&C is here to be a resource for you while you learn more about raw food, Keto, and dog nutrition!

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