What’s in a Carb?

Baked Molly a pawsitively delicious pork roast the other night:

  • four pounds boneless pork roast
  • one carrot
  • one stalk celery
  • about two inches of water in the bottom of the roasting pan

Looked just like any ol’ roast, except for one thing—talk about going light on the veggies! I typically use veggies sparingly in Molly’s meals, and don’t use grains at all. Why?

There’s a hot debate going over whether carbohydrates—better known as grains, veggies, and fruits—have a place in the dog or cat’s diet. The reasons for including them:

  • they keep costs low (plant foods cost less than meat)
  • they make it possible to produce convenient dry kibble (this applies to grains in particular)
  • they contain vitamins and minerals
  • they provide fiber, which can help keep your pet regular

Sounds dandy, right? But interestingly, the National Research Council, the organization in charge of setting nutritional requirements for pet food, lists no minimum requirement for carbohydrates for cats or dogs. Why? Because cats and dogs don’t require carbohydrates to maintain life. There are plenty of people feeding their pets meat only, and their pets are thriving.

In fact, Molly and I have experimented with a purely meat diet. For vitamins and minerals, I included two ingredients, organ meats (go figure—who’da thought organ meats are bursting with vitamins and minerals?) and sea vegetables (which are super-bursting with vitamins and minerals and very easy for pets to digest). Molly did quite well on this meal plan.

We’ve also tried a ratio of 50% meat, 50% veggies—the other extreme. Her coat went dull and she had eye discharge—two simple signs that a dog isn’t thriving on her diet.

Hence the new experiment—just a tad of veggies, primarily for the vitamin, mineral, and fiber benefits, plus a bit of organ meat and sea vegetables to make sure her vitamin and mineral needs are covered.

Keep in mind—a dog or cat has to work harder to process carbohydrates. Simply put, their digestive systems are maximized to process protein, not carbohydrates. So I always take two simple steps to help Molly derive any benefits from her carbohydrates:

  • If I serve her veggies cooked, I make sure they’re nice and soft
  • If I serve her veggies raw, I make sure they’re chopped small

It’s really easy to tell if I didn’t make her veggies easy enough to digest, or if I gave her too much—I can identify the veggie again in her stool!

What about you? How do you feel about plant foods in pet foods?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *