the 8 Best Low Carb Dog Foods in 2020

If you are in a hurry and just want to find out what the most popular low carb dog food is, then we recommend the Acana Originals Protein Rich as the best low carb food for your dog. 

Your dog’s ancestors were natural predators that relied on real meat to survive. So, why does dog food today have more carbs than protein? Most dog food brands showcase photos of real meat on the front, but if you look closely at the ingredients, you’ll notice that the food is packed with carbs. That’s why many dog parents are now seeking low carb dog food options for their furry friends

In this article, we’re going to review the following low carb dog foods

.

Low Carb Dog Food Reviews

When it comes to dog food, there are endless products to choose from. So, I have helped narrow down your search by choosing eight popular low carb dog foods. I will analyze them based on features, pros, and cons. 

Ketona Chicken Recipe Dry Food for Adult Dogs

Ketona Chicken Recipe Dry Food For Adult Dogs

Ketona Dog Food is known for selling dry dog food that contains less than 5% carbs. That’s nearly 85% less than other popular brands. This also means that it has less than 5% starch and 0.5% sugars. This leaves more space for high quality protein sources, and this formula contains over 46% protein. This specific formula has chicken as the primary ingredient, and this chicken is non-GMO and antibiotic-free. 

This food comes in two sizes that are much more expensive than most kibble brands. That’s because they’re full of real meat rather than filler carbs. However, only the first ingredient listed is a meat source, then it’s followed by a few non-meat protein sources. This could mean that a lot of the protein is not coming from quality animal meats. Plus, dog food ingredients are listed in order of weight before being cooked into the food. Chicken is full of moisture and loses a lot of weight after being cooked, so the food might have less chicken than it seems.

Pros:

  • It only contains 5% carbs.
  • It has over 46% protein.
  • The chicken is non-GMO and antibiotic-free.
  • It comes in large and small bags.
  • The company sells salmon recipes too.

Cons:

  • It’s expensive.
  • A lot of the protein might come from non-meat ingredients.
  • It might have less meat than it seems.
  • Picky dogs might not be interested in it.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Adult Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Adult Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo is a much more well-known brand, but it contains about 35% carbs. It doesn’t disclose the exact number of carbs on the bag, so the amount has to be concluded based on the percentages it does list. This is significantly less carbs than most popular dog food formulas, but it’s still more carbs than protein, which is 30% of the food. The primary protein in this dog food is chicken, and chicken is listed as the first two ingredients. One of those ingredients is chicken meal, which is a meat concentrate that contains about 300% more protein volume than fresh chicken.

This formula is also a grain-free diet, making it a great choice for dogs with grain allergies. It’s designed to keep your dog at a healthy weight by promoting lean muscle mass without any excess calories or fats. It even contains superfood ingredients to support a healthy immune system, promote energy, and protect your dog from major health concerns.

Pros:

  • It’s affordable.
  • It lists chicken as the first two ingredients. 
  • It’s grain-free for dogs with allergies.
  • It has less carbs than most kibble brands.
  • It comes in multiple sizes.
  • It contains superfood ingredients.

Cons:

  • This brand has had a lot of recalls.
  • There are more carbs than protein.
  • The brand doesn’t disclose the amount of carbs.

VICTOR Purpose Nutra Pro Dry Dog Food

VICTOR Purpose Nutra Pro Dry Dog Food

This dog food formula only contains about 28% carbs, but the exact carb percentage is not listed on the bag. This is less than the amount of protein, which is approximately 38%. Victor Dog Food is known for being high in protein for an affordable price, so less carbs doesn’t affect the price of this product, which is great for dog parents on a budget. This particular formula contains chicken as the primary meat source, but the brand has other similar formulas with different proteins.

The first ingredient listed in this formula is chicken meal, which is a quality meat source. However, its second ingredient is blood meal, which is considered controversial. Blood meal is high in protein, but it’s a by-product of slaughter. Since this formula is high in protein, it’s made for high energy dogs and growing puppies because it helps promote energy. It contains vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids to benefit your dog’s health.

Pros:

  • It’s affordable.
  • It comes in three sizes.
  • It has less carbs than protein.
  • It contains vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids.
  • It’s made with gluten-free grains only.

Cons:

  • One of the meat sources is a controversial by-product.
  • It might not be good for sensitive dogs.
  • Dogs could get sick after eating it.
  • The company doesn’t disclose carb percentages.

Nulo Adult Grain Free Dry Food for Large and Small Dogs

Nulo Adult Grain Free Dry Food For Large And Small Dogs

Nulo appears to have only 30% carbs in this formula according to calculations. That’s still less than the protein, which is 33%. Nulo is another high quality dog food brand that specializes in high protein while still maintaining a fairly affordable price. This formula comes in three different flavors: lamb, salmon, and turkey. It can also be purchased in three different sizes. All of these options are grain-free, making them ideal for dogs with allergies or sensitivities.

This formula contains meat as the first three ingredients, none of which are by-products. 85% of the protein in this formula is animal-based. This food is also packed with omega fatty acids to help keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy. It’s also designed to promote lean muscles, and it’s a good choice for dogs of all sizes and life stages.

Pros:

  • It contains more protein than carbs.
  • It has three different flavors.
  • It contains meat as the first three ingredients.
  • 85% of the protein is from animal sources.
  • It comes in three different sizes.
  • It has superfood ingredients.

Cons:

  • The company doesn’t disclose carb percentages.
  • Picky dogs might not like it.
  • It could make some dogs sick.

ACANA Regionals Grain Free Adult Dry Dog Food

ACANA Regionals Grain Free Adult Dry Dog Food

Acana also doesn’t disclose their carb percentages, but according to the included amounts, the food contains about 26% carbs. This is much less than the 33% protein that the formula contains. This brand has a few similar formulas, including ones with ranch proteins, fish proteins, and grassland proteins. Acana is known for containing lots of high quality animal proteins, so all the meat comes from pasture-raised mammals, cage-free birds, and wild-caught fish.

Each formula is slightly different, but I’ve taken a close look at the Appalachian Ranch formula, which is made with beef, lamb, bison, and catfish. The ingredient list shows that the first six ingredients are animal proteins, including three deboned meats and three meat concentrates. 70% of the proteins in this formula come from animals. The company also uses whole animal ingredients, including meat, organs, cartilage, and bones, to keep dogs as healthy and strong as possible. On top of everything, it’s grain-free for dogs with allergies.

Pros:

  • It has more protein than carbs. 
  • It comes in multiple unique formulas.
  • It lists animal protein for the first six ingredients.
  • 70% of the protein in this food comes from animals.
  • It uses whole animal proteins. 
  • It’s grain-free.

Cons:

  • It’s expensive.
  • They don’t disclose their carb percentages.
  • It’s not a good choice for dogs with certain meat allergies.

Instinct Original Grain Free Natural Dry Dog Food

Instinct Original Grain Free Natural Dry Dog Food

By looking at the guaranteed analysis on this food, we can estimate that it contains about 27% carbs. This is much less than the 37% protein it contains. However, it also has about 20% fat in it, which is a bit more than most dog foods contain. This means that it’s likely a better option for active dogs only. It’s made without grains, by-products, corn, wheat, soy, or potatoes, making it a great choice for dogs with allergies or sensitivities.

The most popular formula is the chicken flavor, but it also comes in four other recipes. It can also be purchased in three different sizes. The first two ingredients are chicken and chicken meal. Further down on the ingredient list, it also includes some fish proteins too. In total, about 70% of the proteins come from animal sources and nutritious oils. The other 30% comes from fruits, vegetables, and other wholesome ingredients. All the chicken used in this food is cage-free.

Pros:

  • It has more protein than carbs.
  • It lists animal protein as the first two ingredients.
  • It’s great for dogs with allergies.
  • It comes in five different flavors.
  • It comes in three different sizes.

Cons:

  • The company doesn’t disclose carb percentages.
  • It could make some dogs sick.
  • The food could arrive expired or moldy.

Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural Dry Dog Food

Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural Dry Dog Food

This popular dog food formula only contains approximately 24% carbs. This is much less than the protein percentage, which is 38%. It’s important to note that the formula contains about 20% fat though, so it might not be a good choice for lazy dogs. This is another grain-free formula that’s suitable for dogs with allergies or sensitivities to grains. It contains turkey, chicken, and fish in it, so it’s not a good choice for dogs with poultry allergies.

Turkey meal and chicken meal are the first two ingredients, which contain much more protein than fresh meat. Then, it also has a lot of superfood fruits and vegetables, including blueberries, carrots, and spinach. It also contains omega fatty acids to keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy. The food packaging is completely recyclable, and it comes in three different sizes. 

Pros:

  • It has a lot more protein than carbs.
  • The packaging is recyclable.
  • It lists protein as the first two ingredients.
  • It’s grain-free.
  • It contains superfood fruits and vegetables.

Cons:

  • The company doesn’t disclose carb percentages.
  • It might not be good for overweight dogs.
  • It’s not good for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

Purina Pro Plan SPORT Formula Dry Dog Food

Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural Dry Dog Food

This Purina dog food formula contains about 31% carbs, which is just a little higher than the protein, which is 30%. This is another formula with a lot of fat, at about 20%. It comes in four different sizes, all of which are more affordable than similar brands. This particular formula uses chicken as the first ingredient, and it’s made for active, sporting dogs. Therefore, lazy dogs might not do well on this formula because of the high fat percentage.

Chicken is only listed as the first ingredient, and then it’s followed by some filler ingredients and by-products. It has special ingredients to assist with immune system health and joint health. However, it contains a lot of common dog allergies, so it’s not a good choice for sensitive pups. 

Pros:

  • It’s affordable.
  • It has less carbs than most kibble brands.
  • It comes in four different sizes.
  • It benefits immune system health and joint health.
  • It comes in a few different flavors.

Cons:

  • This company has had a lot of recalls.
  • They don’t disclose their carb percentages.
  • It has fillers and by-products.
  • There are more carbs than protein.

Low Carb Dog Food Summary

Carbs are common items in a diet, both for humans and dogs. Yet, too many carbs can be unhealthy. For years, the dog food industry has been using way more carbs than necessary, which is puzzling for many people.

How Many Carbs Do Dogs Need?

On average, it’s estimated that carbs make up approximately 14% of a dog’s total ancestral diet. But, the reality is that your dog doesn’t need carbs in their diet at all. Protein and fats are what your dog thrives on, but carbs don’t even compare. Even so, most dry dog food formulas contain as much as four times the carbohydrate content found in dog ancestral diets. 

Most kibble formulas have between 46% and 74% carbs, greatly outweighing the amount of protein and fat. Most dog parents know that it’s important to closely analyze the ingredient list before choosing a dog food. However, it’s equally as important to look at the carb percentages as well.

Why Do Dog Food Brands Use So Many Carbs?

The main reason dog food brands use so many carbs is because carbs are cheap. Carbs cost less per calorie than protein or fat, so most companies favor them. Unfortunately, the pet industry today is all about money, so a lot of companies care more about gaining profit than serving healthy food. All dog food brands claim to be healthy, but in comparison to brands with less carbs, other foods don’t stand a chance.

Carbs are also essential for making dry dog food. Kibble is the most popular type of dog food because it’s affordable, long-lasting, and easy to store. Carbs have a long shelf life, which is why they are the ideal kibble ingredients. They are also easy to find, which is another reason why they’re so affordable. It’s important to note that none of these reasons for using carbs have to do with health or nutrition though.

Pros and Cons of Low Carb Dog Foods

Carbs can provide some benefits for your dog, but not enough to make a huge difference. Most dogs are just fine without them. So, by removing unnecessary carbs in a diet, you’ll have more room for beneficial ingredients. Carbs often replace essential vitamins and nutrients that your dog needs, so less carbs often means healthier dog food. 

Your dog’s ancestors ate high meat percentages, so a low carb dog food is usually the closest you’ll get to an ancestral diet. Not every low carb dog food is automatically healthy, but looking for low carb diets can help you narrow down your search. If you’re willing to pay more for dog food, a raw or fresh diet is usually the healthiest and most natural for your dog. 

However, more healthy ingredients often means more expensive products. It can be difficult to find a low carb dog food that’s also affordable. However, an extra cost is usually worth it in the end. Healthier dog food brands can help protect your dog from major health concerns and they can give your dog the energy they need to thrive. Low carb dog food could even extend your dog’s life, so it’s worth the price.  

What to Look for in Low Carb Dog Food

Just because a dog food brand is a low carb diet doesn’t automatically mean it’s healthy. There are still a lot of factors to consider before deciding on the healthiest food for your dog. First of all, make sure your dog is getting a high quality protein in their diet. Ideally, the formula should list animal protein as the first few ingredients, including real meat rather than by-products. At the very least, the food should contain 18% protein, but hopefully it has much more than that.

Fats are also a crucial part of your dog’s diet. Fat might be something that humans try to avoid, but fat in dog food can help your dog have healthy skin and it can improve their cardiovascular health. However, unlike protein, fat shouldn’t be too high. The food should contain a minimum of 5% fat, and the fat should never be as high as the protein. This is because too much fat could cause your dog to gain weight, especially if they aren’t an active dog.

Finally, to choose the best low carb dog food, you should check the carb percentages. Unfortunately, dog food companies aren’t required to disclose the exact carb content of their products. So, in some cases, you’ll need to make a guess based on the ingredients listed and the included percentages. Odds are, if a company chooses not to share the amount of carbs, then there are probably too many carbs in it.

The best way to find out the carb percentage is to add up the protein, fat, and any other percentages listed. Then, subtract that number from one hundred to get your carb percentage. You can also do a quick search online to find websites that have analyzed the food’s percentages and ingredients. It shouldn’t be so difficult to find healthy food for your dog, but that’s just how the pet industry is at the moment. 

Frequently Asked Questions on low carb dry dog food

The amount of dog food to choose from can be overwhelming. So, I’ve answered some frequently asked questions to help you narrow down your search.

What is Considered Low Carb in Dog Food?

A low carb dog food would ideally be a food with less than 30% carbs. As mentioned earlier, many brands contain as much as 46% to 74% carbs, which takes away from the protein and other healthy ingredients. Ideally, the amount of carbs in your dog’s diet should be significantly less than the amount of protein. That way, their food is more closely related to their ancestral diet.

Is carb free or low carb dog food good for Dogs?

In general, a low carb diet is healthy for dogs. Dogs don’t require any carbs in their diet, so the less carbs a dog food has, the better. Usually, less carbs means more room for quality protein and other beneficial ingredients. However, this isn’t always the case. Not all low carb diets are equal, so make sure you look closely at the ingredients too. A high quality low carb diet should also have animal protein sources as the first few ingredients and no by-products. Also, check for superfood ingredients that improve aspects of your dog’s health, such as skin, joints, heart, and digestion.

Is Grain Free Dog Food Low Carb?

No, grain-free dog food is not always low carb. Grain-free has increased in popularity recently because many dogs have grain allergies. Many low carb diets are also grain-free to accommodate the needs of sensitive dogs, but not every grain-free diet is also low in carbs. Some companies will claim to be healthier because their food is grain-free, but it always comes down to the ingredients they use. If you can find a diet that’s grain-free, has healthy ingredients, and is low in carbs, that’s likely your best bet.

Conclusion on high protein low carb dog food

There are a lot of excellent low carb diets out there for dogs. Choosing the best one for you all depends on your dog’s preferences and your price range. The obvious choice seems like Ketona Dog Food since it has less than 5% carbs, but looking at all the foods as a whole, that one isn’t my favorite.

My favorite choice is Acana Regionals. Acana is known for their high quality meat sources, which add up to a larger percentage than the carbs. They’ve also never had any recalls so far. The Acana formula I analyzed included six quality animal sources as the first ingredients, which is much more protein sources than any of the other options. Sure, it’s one of the more expensive choices, but healthy food often comes at a cost. Plus, there are a lot of other Acana formulas, so there’s something for every dog.

Choosing a quality food for your dog is never easy, but now that you know about the problem with carbs, you should be able to more easily find the perfect food. Your dog deserves a healthy meal just like their ancestors, so it’s important for you to provide that for them.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print

Peter Schoeman