Picking A Low Carb Dog Food

Story takeaways:

  • Bones & Co raw foods average ~1-2% net carbs

  • Many pet parents choose to fuel their dogs with more fat and protein and less carbohydrates, since carbs = inflammatory & unnecessary for carnivorous canines

  • Since AAFCO does not require pet food companies to label their carbohydrate content, the best way to see the # of carbs in your dog’s food is to calculate it

  • Grain-free dog food does not automatically mean low-carb dog food. Sometimes, grain-free food can have a higher amount of carbs than other dog foods.

low carb dog food

A little bit of background:

Dogs are carnivorous canines (taxonomically, Canis lupis familiaris) that biologically require meat and fat in order to thrive. While dogs are technically able to process carbohydrates, this source of fuel is less than ideal and can cause inflammation and metabolic stress in dogs’ bodies.

As carnivores and close relatives of the gray wolf, dogs have no biological requirement for carbohydrates. The most appropriate diet for carnivorous canines is raw meat high in fat content. See why: https://www.thebonesandco.com/blog/how-fat-is-optimal-for-dogs. On a metabolic level, carbs are inflammatory to dogs as dogs’ bodies have to work overtime in order to process this inappropriate fuel.

With the disease rates of our dogs being astronomically high, many have turned to low carbohydrate dog food options in order to reduce the risk of developing diseases that are made worse by long-term carbohydrate consumption.

the problem: not all low carb foods are made equal

If you’re interested in choosing a truly low carb option for your dog, you’re going to have to do a bit of digging. Some pet food labels (especially on dry food) make it appear as though the food is low carb when really, it is not.

For instance, “grain-free” dog food does not mean “carb-free” dog food. Confusing, right?

We’re here to help.

Grain-free versus low-carb

Currently, according to AAFCO standards, pet food companies do not have to put the carbohydrate percentage on the label of dog food. Activists are working to change this but for now, this is the status-quo.

When large pet food companies don’t have to label the carb content on the back of their bags, people can easily mistake grain-free for carb-free, which isn’t the case.

The amount of carbs in a dog’s food = the amount of sugar in a dog’s food since dogs process carbs as glucose.

The real problem with the grain-free kibble craze is that grain-free kibble is still dry kibble, lacking the moisture of real, raw food. Grain free food can also contain items like sweet potatoes and tapioca, both of which are carbohydrates but technically aren’t grains. Grain-free food can still be high-carb food, which is highly inappropriate for carnivorous canines.

This video by Dr. Becker and Rodney Habib explains really well how grain-free products can even be the products with the most amount of carbohydrates and sugar.

“Grain-free” is a marketing ploy to trick consumers into thinking that kibble without grains is healthier than kibble with grains, which simply isn’t true. Grain-free kibble still contains a high amount of carbohydrates and a lack of moisture…which is a huge problems for dogs.

Don’t be pet fooled: grain-free dog food is not automatically low carb and dry food labeled “grain-free” often is very high in carb content.

how to: Count carbs In Your Dog’s Food

You might be surprised to learn just how many carbs are in your dog’s food.

Many companies (even some raw companies) do not have a truly low-carb recipe since fillers like vegetables are still ultimately processed as glucose in a dog’s body. You can easily calculate the actual amount of carbs in your dog’s food to ensure that they are staying away from inflammatory carbohydrates.


1. Review "Guaranteed Analysis" on the dog food label (PS: the GA is the minimum amounts of the specified nutrient in the bag)

2. Find the fat, protein, fiber, ash and moisture %'s

3. Add those values together to get one total percentage

4. Subtract that number from 100 to get your carb total!



Bones & Co. Carb Count:

Here is the Guaranteed Analysis for Bones & Co.’s Beef Patties:

Crude Protein: 14% (min)

Crude Fat: 15% (min)

Crude Fiber: 2% (max)

Moisture: 68% (max)

CALCULATE: 100 – (14 + 15 + 2 + 68) = 1% Net Carbs

Bones & Co.’s Raw Beef Patties contain ~1-2% carbohydrates! Now that’s a low carb food!

Blue Buffalo

Here is the Guaranteed Analysis for Blue Buffalo’s Freedom Grain-Free Adult Chicken Recipe:

Crude Protein: 24.0% (Min)

Crude Fat: 14.0% (Min)

Crude Fiber: 6.0% (Max)

Moisture: 10.0% (Max)

Calcium: 1.0% (Min)

Phosphorus: 0.7% (Min)

Omega 3 Fatty Acids*: 0.5% (Min)

Omega 6 Fatty Acids*: 2.5% (Min)

Glucosamine* 400 mg/kg (Min)

CALCULATE: 100 – (14 + 10 + 24) = 52%

This recipe from Blue Buffalo contains 52% carbohydrates, making it “grain-free” but not carb-free.

how to pick a truly low carb dog food

The best way to pick a truly low carb dog food is to calculate the carb content in the food. Only then will you be able to separate fact from marketing tactic and choose a food that works best for you and your pup’s body.

Remember: while there are simple and complex carbohydrates, both types are processed as glucose in a dog’s body, which is sub-optimal.

Carbs wreak havoc on a carnivore’s body and can cause chronic inflammation and metabolic stress, two things that are linked directly with diseases like cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

It’s up to pet parents to remain vigilant against marketing tactics like “grain-free” when dogs process all carbs as sugar/glucose. Calculating the percentage of carbs in your dog’s food is a good first step to see how biologically-appropriate the food you are buying is.

Ketogenic Food: The Ultimate Low Carb Option

The reason why we craft high fat, moderate protein, and low carb food is because we believe it is optimal for dogs.

We believe: dogs do not need carbohydrates so we refuse to fuel them with anything less-than-optimal.

Our dogs’ lives are at stake when we choose to prioritize convenience and cost over the well-being of our furry friends. Tired of seeing dogs suffer needlessly from issues made worse by improper nutrition, we created the first 100% balanced Ketogenic raw food for dogs. Our food is not only low carb, it’s metabolically appropriate and optimal for dogs.



  • KETO approved line of food, bones, and supplements

  • 95% Meat, Bones & Organs

  • Made responsibly from grass fed, cage free animals

  • Small but mighty (a 3-person company!)

  • We support local, independent Pet Retailers

  • MORE Meat & NO Fillers

  • NO HPP: completely raw food


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!