Sugar in Pet Food

Deb D’Andrea, Nederland.  We continue to read more in headlines about how sugar is bad for human consumption and how various forms of sugar have made it into many prepared foods that do not actually require it. For instance, bread doesn’t require sugar to be bread. For our pets the same can be true; kibble does not need sugar or corn or potatoes to be kibble. It’s quite shocking when looking at various pet foods and treats to discover a form of sugar as an ingredient; be it high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar or even replacement sugars like sorbitol, which can be found in canine toothpaste. I personally don’t like the taste of sorbitol, and apparently neither do my pups. Also, if you see the sugar replacement XYLITOL in any product, do not give it to your pet, as it is deadly.

It’s not just sugars that can be harmful for our pets, but carbohydrates like corn or potatoes; which when consumed are broken down into fuel for the body or turned into glucose. To move this ‘sugar’ or glucose around the body, insulin is released to transfer the glucose to the cells so they can fuel up. Insulin also converts glucose into fat for storage and later use by the body. This is an overview as there are a lot more dynamics going on throughout this process.

Humans, dogs and cats create the hormone “insulin”; with eight insulin hormones to raise blood sugar and one to lower it. This provides some insight into how our bodies were designed to utilize food, and that our bodies are better designed to do without rather than process excess carbohydrates.

Corn or wheat are not part of a dog or cats natural diet; and they have zero starch requirements to survive. You’ll find these starches or carbohydrates in pet foods because it’s inexpensive for the producer, not because your pet needs it. These ingredients can lead to diabetes and overweight pets. The carbohydrates can also throw off your pet’s gut bacteria potentially leading to a dysfunctional immune system or a leaky gut.

So how do you know if the food you’re feeding is good for your pet? Grab your pet food and add up the “Guaranteed Analysis” percentages for protein, fat, moisture and ash. Ash may not be listed, but in kibble it averages 5%-8%. Subtract that number from 100% and the remainder is the carbohydrate percentage. The lower that number is, the better.

Then take a look at what the carbohydrates are in order to discover the “Glycemic Load.” Ingredients may include: oatmeal, barley, brown rice, potatoes, tapioca or peas. The goal is to keep the glycemic number under ten. Here is a chart created by dogsnaturally listing the Food and Glycemic Loads for your reference:

There are many great quality foods for our pets that can help them lead healthy and happy lives. While several people are on a limited budget, finding a pet food that helps reduce costly trips to the vet while keeping your pet healthy can be invaluable and cost less in the long run. The Nederland Feed & Pet Store has many great options for your pets and Abby, whom I’ve known for over ten years, is a great resource to discuss food options.

Till next time. Deb D’Andrea, founder of 4TheLuvOfDogz & the Caribou Dog Ranch is recognized by the State of Colorado as a Certified Canine Massage Therapist and will visit your home or Vet’s office to work with your dog. Canine Agility may be offered at the Caribou Dog Ranch in 2017 if there is interest. Deb currently has limited availability for new Petz Nanny Clients; and she bakes up fresh dog treats & doggy birthday cakes per order.  For information contact Deb at 720-675-7078 or email:

Deb D'Andrea

Deb D’Andrea a columnist for The Mountain-Ear. She is the founder of 4TheLuvOfDogz which provides mobile Canine Massage, Canine Agility and Petz Nanny Services. Her home-made dog treats are sold at local stores, and 4TheLuvOfDogz K9Birthday Cakes are available direct. Deb Petz Nanny’s for dogs, cats, birds, fish, horses, etc. Contact Deb at 720-675-7078 or email. Online: 4TheLuvOfDogz