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Aug. 25, 2022

Do Dogs Need Carbs? The Evidence

Do Dogs Need Carbs? The Evidence

Our "Mythbusters" style episode breaks down common misconceptions around how dogs can have or even need carbs because they have evolved to eat them. That doesn't mean it is the best choice for their health so we break down the facts! 

Hear real life misconceptions Dan has read over the years during his research for his book "Dogs, Dog Food, and Dogma" and while running his low-carb pet food company, KetoNatural Pet Foods. 

Even though dogs and wolves are almost identical species, only dogs produce amylase which helps break down carbohydrates into glucose. We'll walk through the timeline of how domesticated dogs began to eat carbs as pure means of survival. 

Although most dog food and treats have a high ratio of carbs, there are a lot of (science backed) reasons to consider before adding them to your dog's diet.


Listen to the complementary Episode 08: Carbs Make Dogs Fat for even more facts on carbs! 

Have a question, comment, or counterpoint? Email us at


Host Jen: Well, welcome back to another episode and today's topic is all about, do dogs need carbs, and it's going to be a really good complimentary episode to episode eight.

So if you have not listened to episode eight, that is like the foundational, like Dan's college course on carbs. It's carbs, make dogs fact the evidence. And so that really lays the groundwork to things that we'll reference things that we'll talk about briefly. Cause we can only cover so many things in one episode, but I just want to make sure if you haven't listened to episode eight, please go back and find it and listen to it and I'll make sure to link it in the show notes. And we're going to frame this episode a little bit different. We have five different misconceptions and these are actual words that like, you know, Dan's been in this industry for a long time.

These are phrases that he seen over and over, you know, social media emails, customers coming to be like, I thought dogs need cars because of this reason in any way. So this is going to be like MythBusters gone, wild where Dan is going to kind of go through like all shout out, I'll work through these five big misconceptions, common misconceptions. And Dan's going to really bring the science, right? Like he's going to have the black and white answers to everything.

So are you ready? I'm ready.

Host Dan: Yeah. I just wanted to note that like it's, it's interesting. And I think it's instructive that at the place that I have seen these, all of these different comments, the most is not just somebody cooked this idea up on their own, but they hear, they hear it from their vet. They go, well, I'd be into your low carb product because my dog is fat. And I know that low carb has helped people lose weight for instance. but when I talked to my vet about it, the vet says that, but, and it's one of these five things and it's worth noting because it like gets at this broader, not strategy I guess, is that, that implies like a kind of intentionality, but it gets it like all these things have an element of science to them. And so they're very ripe for like, someone that's got a professional medical degree to like riff on and to tell somebody about, but they're all misleading in one way or another.

They don't remotely support the idea that you shouldn't restrict your dog's carbohydrate intake for this reason. But they all, they do fit super nicely into like, oh yeah, this feels very authoritative coming from this authoritative source. My veterinarian because it has all this science stuff that it's tangential to. And so, yeah, that's, it's, it's wild, but that's where I hear the most from. It's not like people just come to this idea and like, oh, you kinda, you, you had the right idea, but maybe he didn't have enough of a nuanced understanding about everything.

And so you kind of messed it up a little bit. It's like, no, no, no. This is getting perpetuated the veterinary community. Yeah. Yeah. It's it's they're coming with you. But my vet says this, it was after consultation with my vet, things like that, where, and I we've discussed this in previous episodes have been in their shoes to have my vet pushing a particular food because of my particular issue that my dog was having, et cetera, et cetera.

And anyway, come to find out it's, you know, 50% carbs. So we'll kind of get into that too. But I think we'll start at like the top and we'll just work through these, these five common misconceptions that people that pet owners have about carbs and what to feed their dogs. And the first one is really interesting. And I have particularly heard this from friends of friends and it's like, but dogs have been evolved to be able to eat carbs.

They're not wolves anymore. Of course. Yeah. Very common idea. Totally factually accurate. That's the most important thing is that is true. Dogs and wolves are very genetically similar they're as similar as any two distinct species get at they're so similar that they can interbreed with one another, which is incorrect. It's like it doesn't a lot of biologists. You ask them, how do you tell where one species ends and another one begins?

And the answer is if they can interbreed successfully, if they will make offspring, if they breed, you know, like a human being and some other great ape can't interbreed and make a baby, but a dog and a Wolf can, it happens all the time. and so they're, they're very similar, but they are two distinct species with specific genetic differences.

The vast majority of the differences. If you had a second to think about it, I bet you guess are all about the brain. You know, like a dog has been over selective breeding over selective evolutionary pressure has become typically a very trainable, pet friendly type of mentality. And that's all brain stuff.

A Wolf on the other hand is like the quintessential wild animal, right? Like they are not, it is not the case that you can go out to Yellowstone and be like, oh, that Wolf is super cute. Bring it home to your house and train it to behave like your Yorkie poo.

Like it doesn't work that way because not just because it's a larger animal or whatever, because it's brain is built somewhat differently. It hasn't gone through these generations and generations and generations of breeding for the traits that make something, a good house pet. So wild animal it's unruly, it's aggressive, all that stuff.

That's where the majority of the genetic differences are. but there's another place. Unlike wolves, dogs have evolved the ability to digest starch, digest carbohydrate. So basically what this, the place where the rubber meets the road on this, like digestion occurs from the moment food comes into the mouth, you know, until it's way, way far along, it's just like different aspects of the digestive system break down in different ways, different parts of the food product and what dogs and what human beings do is they make a salivary enzyme.

So part of saliva is this enzyme that's called amylase and amylase. What it does is it takes chains of carbohydrate molecule and breaks them down into glucose. Glucose is like, we've covered this. You know, you hit it right on the head. Like there's other episodes that this doves dovetails with perfectly, but like basically carbohydrate is a chain of glucose molecules.

It goes to sugar, just chain sugar molecules. And in order to digest that in order to like pull nutritional value out of that molecule, you've got to break it down into individual chain, individual molecules of glucose and amylase does exactly that. It basically breaks those bonds and turns along complex carbohydrate into a bunch of individual molecules of glucose, right?

Your body does it. If you hold a piece of bread in your mouth for a period of time and let your saliva like start working on it, it'll start to taste sweet and what that is. And you could probably think about that. Like think of like eating a sandwich or a piece of bread that happens over time. It's like in your mouth.

And all of a sudden it's like, oh, I can sort of taste the sweetness in this. What that is is your salivary amylase acting on the complex carbohydrate that's in bread. Bread is made up of, you know, whole grins or whatever. breaking it down into individual molecules of sugar that you taste as sweet once they're in their individual.

And so you can see it starting to work, their dogs do the exact, they make the same stuff. It does the same thing. Wolves don't do it. This has been determined through gene sequencing studies like cutting edge type science where it's like, basically we'd line up the genome of a Wolf and the genome of a dog. And we look for overlap and we look for differences. And that's one of the differences is that your dog? And that's why this is a factually accurate statement to say, well, no, wait a second. My dog should eat carbohydrate because unlike a Wolf, it has evolved to digest carbohydrate. So it's true. Your dog for the vast majority of its evolutionary heritage, couldn't digest carbohydrate at all the whole time that it shared a genetic lineage with a Wolf, which is 99.9% of the two species evolution. Neither of them could digest carbohydrate.

But just recently when dogs and wolves branch off, one of the things that changed is dogs slowly evolve the ability to digest carbohydrate, but as soon as a huge, but which is that, of course they can digest carbohydrate. Like we wouldn't be having this conversation if they couldn't digest carbohydrate, right? If it was just a Wolf and it couldn't digest carbohydrate at all, we wouldn't be talking about whether it is healthy for a dog to eat carbohydrate because they couldn't digest it at all. Nobody's saying they can't digest carbohydrate, but that doesn't mean that it is healthy for the animal to do it doesn't mean that they can digest it without also incurring other costs without having metabolic changes. Those things do happen. And so it is not a persuasive thing to say, well, my dog evolved the ability to digest carbohydrate.

Therefore it should eat carbohydrate. And I will tell, I'll give you an example that shows how absurd this is. You and I unfortunately can digest jelly, donuts or ice cream super effectively. If you give it to a cow, the cow can't do that as a cow, very, very specific digestive infrastructure to give it to a Wolf, a Wolf can't digest it effectively, but you can, I can, we can digest it very effectively.

We know because when you eat a lot of jelly donuts, you start to pack that nutrition on as body fat. That's what happens. Everyone knows that jelly donuts and ice cream are not healthy food products, but you can digest them just fine. And so it's the same idea here when somebody says to you, no, no, no, your dog has evolved to digest carbohydrate.

Therefore it should eat carbohydrate. Just think of a jelly donut and just be like, I can digest that just fine. Does that mean that I should eat that as my source of 50% of my calories? Of course not. And so that puts paid to that As I hear you say everything like what's coming to my mind is adaptation and optimal health are not the same thing, just because the dog was evolved to be able to process carbohydrate does not mean that it is optimally healthy for them.

And We'll Kind of get into the science of that. But, But, but it's like, it gets nuanced. I wonder if this going into this gets a little bit like more than it, this media might like, kind of be suited for, but we'll try. It's like basically what causes evolution via natural selection is what are called selective pressures. Something happens in an animal's environment that puts pressure on it to survive.

And it w you know, in the case of a lot of wild animals, what that is, is an unavailability of food. And so if you are, let's say you're the one in 100 wolves that makes a little bit more amylase, and there's a ton of carbohydrate available with that.

But otherwise there's not a lot of food available, right? And so tons of wolves are dying of starvation, but you've got the ability to, you've got just through, genetic variability. You've got the ability to digest carbohydrate. Well, you might be the one Wolf of a hundred that gets to live longer.

And so there are some selective pressures that are really powerful, because like, if you don't, if you have them, then you are going to survive at a much higher clip in the short run than the other members of your species of your pack or whatever. And then there are others that only operate over the long term. So this is like what chronic disease problems are about.

So like the reason that your dog evolved the ability to digest carbohydrate is because that helped it avoid starvation, which is this hard, selective pressure people start like, okay, you know, this is, think of, we know that dogs basically branched away from wolves right around the same time as human beings began to develop agriculture, which is how we have carbohydrate at such massive scale. It's the same idea.

And so all of a sudden, if you've got the ability to eat all this carbohydrate, rich food, that's being produced by all these human beings, all of a sudden you're going to avoid starvation. It's very adaptive. You can see why that quickly spreads across the gene pool, but what isn't a hard, selective pressure is the development of chronic disease down the line.

Like that's where we are now. You're not concerned with whether, oh, geez. If I feed this to my dog, is it going to start today or not? That's not the issue. The issue is, do we keep, are we going to keep this animal around for as long as possible, or we're going to help it live to 15 instead of nine years old, or we're going to help it avoid diabetes, weight loss, or obesity, stuff like that over the long-term, those types of things have much lower, selective pressure. It's not, it doesn't operate on the same level because the animal, whether or not a carbohydrate gives you obesity over a timescale of five years, both you and the Wolfer around for five years. And so it's a much like that's how that, and again, I, that's probably a, I haven't road tested the explanation there to know whether it comes through, but, but that's, the idea basically is like some selective pressures you can, that's why that kind of thing can happen. and has that Immediacy of like survival. Yeah. It's I love that. Like, does it stop you? It, natural selection occurs at the genetic level, but operates through breeding. And so like, if you don't get enough nutrition and starve, you don't breed, you don't pass on your genes. Cause you starved before you had the chance to do that. Well, if you do get the nutrition and you stay alive long enough to pump out a litter of puppies, but oh, by the way, you get diabetes four years later and die, that's hugely adaptive over the animals that can't get it at all. So that's how that comes to be. Yeah. I love that. And I get really ties into this, like number two. So number two, the second misconception we have dogs need carbs for energy. If they are active. I see this a lot. Yeah. So, this is not well. So as you phrased it, this also is at least sort of, I think it's fair to say that this is true, but it's very, it's not significant. It's a minimal amount of like, like basically different tissues. And when those tissues are used in different ways, we'll use different sources for metabolic fuel. Sometimes some tissues use fat. Sometimes some tissues use glucose, which is the, like we said before is the building block of carbohydrates. Okay. And something that's been ingrained in anyone who thinks about what nutrition they need to eat for themselves and does exercise. Everyone knows that human beings, if you ramp up the intensity of the exercise, you're performing the activity that you're doing. And any time of eventually your body's skeletal muscle starts to switch over to using glucose for fuel instead of fat. If you are just walking at a two mile per hour, pace out on the street, your body will rely almost entirely on body fat or on fat as a substrate. That's the metabolic source of fuel. If you start running harder and harder, you will more and more be using glucose for energy instead. So I did my, one of my hobbies are these like long endurance trail races. I live in Utah in the mountains of Utah. So these cool events, if you're into running, do these long hours long runs on these trails. And one of the fundamental components of the strategy for these things is you need to eat sugar during the event because you are going hard enough that your body is using that stuff instead of fat for a big chunk of its energy needs. And because your body can't store an infinite amount of glucose, you will run out over time unless you replenish it. So you go do these races is white, drink something like Gatorade, or you eat like these, energy gels. It's like a hundred calories worth of sugar, pure sugar. If you have, you have enough fat in your body, I have enough fat in my body. And every dog that is owned by someone who's listening to this show has enough fat in their body to essentially power a what two mile per hour walk. It definitely, you know, you're talking about hundreds and hundreds of miles. Glucose is very different in you and I. Your body contains like 1500 calories worth is kind of like the rough number. So if you're going to burn more than 1500 calories worth of glucose in your activity and in these long shoulders. And so you do, you need to eat it. You need to take it. So that's a long-winded way of saying that like certain activities in people, unquestionably burn glucose. And if you do enough of those activities, you need to take that glucose in through your food at baseline, you've got some stored up and your dog has some stored up. It gets stored in the muscles in what's called glycogen. And it's stored in the liver as glycogen. So if you wake up and you haven't had a meal in 18 hours, right, you didn't eat since breakfast the day before you didn't eat anything in the whole rest of the day, then you went to sleep and then you woke up and then you went for a hard run. It's going to be hard for a variety of reasons, but not because you don't have any glucose, your body stores, some amount of that stuff, just fine and same with your dog. And that's important because it gets at the distinction between whether you need glucose to power and activity. And whether you need, what's called exogenous glucose, glucose through food, your body and your dog's body will make glucose on its own through other metabolic substrates. Even if you do not feed a dog, a Wolf take, for example, we talked about a second ago, Wolf can't digest carbohydrate, okay. There's still glucose in the bloodstream of every Wolf because it's used that substrate is used to power some activities and it's there. They just make it out of there's a biochemical process called gluconeogenesis where an animal makes glucose out of other metabolic substrates, mainly like protein. So whether you need glucose is one issue. Whether you need to eat glucose is a separate issue. all that said in either case dogs, don't function, metabolically, the same way as people do when it comes to activity. When it comes to exercise, dogs do not have this, like w there's a, a term of art, like a expression that people in the like endurance community use is called bonking B O N K. And that's like, that's when you hit the wall a hit the wall. It's like all of quite, quite suddenly you go from a place where you're cruising to a place where you are out of gas and you can't go, you know, you could walk, but you can't run anymore. And what that is is your body running out of glucose. Cause you're going to use it up. You got a minimal store. You're not eating anymore. And eventually it goes away and boom, you hit the wall. You can't power. That same activity that you wanted to do that doesn't happen to dogs. Okay. And I'll give you three places that we've we've that the scientific community has observed. That can show you like, as an example of how we know this, for sure. Number one is wolves. On average, a Wolf traveled something like 20 miles every day. And as we covered in the first point of this episode, they do not, they cannot digest carbohydrate. So the amount of glucose that they need to power 20 miles of trotting of chasing down, like think of the amount of effort that's required to go into a life or death, struggle with a moose or a bison. Like this is day-to-day for a Wolf is like you are chasing this animal indefinitely until it tires out. Then you're going to bring this thing down to the ground and kill it. Like you're talking about life or death struggle as intense as it gets no glucose being consumed. Okay. And if, if it was something that helped them bring down that prey, one iota more effectively, all of a sudden, then there's a lot of selective pressure for them to be able to do that. Right. Then it makes them much better at surviving. And so they would have evolved that tendency number two, sled dogs. So basically the most metabolically active dogs on the planet are dogs that compete in sled, dog races, up in Arctic areas, you know, and, and the numbers there are like, obscene. It's just like 50 miles a day, multiple days in a row pulling a sled that weighs hundreds of pounds. Okay. And as a matter like across the industry is not the right way to say it. But across that sport, there is a single dietary strategy, which is the dogs do not eat carbohydrate at all. Those dogs don't take in any carbohydrate and they perform with all due respect to our listeners dogs. I feel pretty safe saying that those dogs are performing a lot more exercise on a daily basis. Then your Yorkie poo, you know what I mean? You're running 50 miles a day and they take in zero carbohydrate. And again, strong pressure. You're a musher. And this is your thing. This is your hobby. If you thought your job was going to do one iota better by giving it carbohydrate, you bet your that they would give it to them. And it does. And then the third, the way we know for sure is it's been tested. Experimental, published. Peer reviewed research has been performed where researchers essentially put dogs on treadmills and run them indefinitely and look at what their body is using metabolically. And when they do that, they see that the dogs that are performing that on a zero carbohydrate diet don't function any differently than the dogs that are eating a carbohydrate, rich diet. In fact, they perform better. So for all those reasons, if you're like, well, I get that the average couch, potato dog might not need carbohydrate, but my dog goes for a jog with me every day. So my dog does because he's an active dog. He's like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, not even close, not even close. It's just kind of a misconception stemming from the idea that human beings at certain energy output levels do need, exotic carbohydrate at some point. Yeah. I mean, I was even thinking the other day when I was being raised in Southern Illinois on a farm, my grandparents, dogs, I mean, they were eating meat. It was not carb rich. They did not eat dog food. And these dogs, I mean, they were go, go, go all day. I mean, they were like chasing out predators. They were, they were, they were working dogs, they were working farm dogs and they were very active in energy. And so, yeah, it just kind of like, it messes with your, your perspective. Cause you're like, wait, but the average dog isn't that, like you said, that intense exercise, like these sled dogs, these dogs that have been on treadmills and definitely in these studies and they still are not requiring carbohydrate for function and performance. So yeah, it's just something You can see it also, this isn't proof, this is an evidence, this is what in the legal community you would call circumstantial evidence, not direct evidence, but like the other place. The other reason you can see for yourself, the dog doesn't need it is because when the dogs, when there has been science that shows that a dog does need some amount of a nutrient on a regular basis in order to prevent it from developing some kind of disease or some kind of other deficiency, the regulators require it out of pet food companies. You have to, if you're going to sell complete imbalanced pet food in the United States, your food has to contain a certain amount of protein period full spot. And that's because the folks that regulate this know that if your dog doesn't get that much bad things happen to its body. And the same thing applies for all sorts of micro nutrients, vitamins and minerals as well, and even applies to fat, but not for carbohydrates. There's a reason that your one to one nutrient that pet foods do not have to contain is carbohydrate. And that reason is it's not at all necessary for the dog, whether it's active or whether it's couch potato, or Yes. And we do get into that. We discuss that in depth, like on all of our label review series, we kind of go through different, brands and what they're, you know, all the protein and the carbs. And like you said, it's, none of them are required to have cards. So it's still a fascinating, industry. All right, misconception, number three, we've already touched base on this because this is all about glucose. So of course, if there's anything additional you want to add to this misconception, number three, dogs need carbs for glucose, just like humans. So it's raw and yeah, that comparison. Right? Exactly. So it's like the, the main thing to note here is that there's a difference between the exoticness meaning X. I've never say it in Latin, but it's like some element of like outside, outside the body exogenous as opposed to endogenous exoticness glucose versus glucose, your dog's brain. And to some degree, the other organs in its body relies on glucose for fuel. There are just different tissues, metabolize, different substrates in different moments, right? Brain basically entirely glucose, but there is plenty of, you know, the breath with all due respect. So to everyone's dog, that's listening to this. You don't have the equivalent of like a, you know, a four-hour chess match for your doll. Like, what I'm trying to say is like the brain, your dog's brain is never, if your dog is running for 20 miles, the amount of metabolic fuel that it's burning is way, way, way, way, way, way, way more than the amount it's burning. If it's just laying around, you know what I mean? You're talking about 10 times as much, that kind of variation doesn't happen in the brain. The amount of activity that a very active brain does is not, so-so completely different from the amount that an inactive brain, like my idiots St. Bernard's seemingly have, goes through. And so, as a result, you can say that no matter what kind of brain activity your dog is going through, it has enough glucose in its body without taking any end. If you want a power, what it needs. It's not like if you don't feed your dog, a carbohydrate, rich Hill's pet food product, that all of a sudden you're going to be like, sit, and it's going to try to shake. And it's just like, go, go through stupid. I can't do it anymore because they don't have enough gluten. No, the body, again, through the process of gluconeogenesis produces more than enough glucose to power, your dog's brain doesn't need outside glucose to replace, to supplement what little amount it needs. The power is brain activity. Yeah. There's good existing level in the body. It's it's that, like you said, can power everything. And you're not like, I always thought when I was hitting my dog food, I was like, oh, it's just like a burst of energy. I'm going to give them, like, I'm giving them, an injection. I'm giving them an opportunity to like gobble all this up and they're going to just be like bouncing off the walls and she'll be good until I feed her 12 hours later. and so this is just so fascinating to kind of like, start to think about this whole different perspective. Well, so here's, here's the thing. This is not, this isn't, I don't think you were going to deal with this directly because it's not like a reason that people give for, like, I want to feed my dog carbohydrate, but it's a really important fact to understand if your dog eats a lot of digestible carbohydrate, its body will begin to burn glucose instead of fat, you can influence using diet, just like using activity. You can influence whether your dog burns relatively more fat for energy or relatively more glucose carbohydrate for energy. And the most direct way to do it is by feeding the dog more carbohydrate. And again, this has been tested ad nauseum. This is not a controversial subject. This is taught in every major veterinary nutrition textbook, every major veterinary endocrinology textbook. What happens is you feed a dog glucose or carbohydrate. It gets broken down into glucose molecules when it's digesting. And then that glucose gets pumped into the bloodstream. And as anyone who has a diabetic dog knows your dog will be get, will get poisoned. If the amount of glucose in its body stays too high of earnings, bloodstream stays too high for too long. That's a diabetic coma. That is hyperglycemia. That is a very scary death potentially thing. And a dog with diabetes has a problem managing that. You know, every dog, regardless of whether it has diabetes, when it takes in a bunch of carbohydrate is going to see its blood glucose spike in the wake of that meal dogs that have a healthy metabolism that don't have diabetes release, the hormone insulin, and insulin's job is to basically get that glucose out of the bloodstream and into other places. Right? And so that we've talked about this in the obesity episode, one of the bad ways that insulin does that is it basically takes the glucose and puts it into fat cells. It makes fat cells fat. That's like one of the places where at least in the short run, you can store glucose in your dog's body without poisoning it. It stays in the bloodstream poison potential coma, but in the fat tissue, okay, we're going to avoid the coma thing. The only problem is that you get fat, like that's basically, but another thing that insulin does, like insulin operates on a bunch of different fronts. And so another thing that it does is it signals to tissues that can preferentially burn relatively more glucose for energy or more fat for energy. It basically says there's a ton of glucose in the blood. We need to switch over into glucose burning mode and your dog will start to do more of that. And that, and that's basically, you can measure it through what's called the respiratory quotient. Like the amount of oxygen that the animal takes in is a perfect indicator of how much relatively it's burning glucose versus fat. And so you see it, you can tell, like it's been tested time and time again. And so, and I guess what I mean to say with that is it's relevant. So like your conception of, oh, I feed my dog a carbohydrate rich meal and it's going to be bouncing off the walls. Well, to some degree, I mean, that happened, like, think about kids with sugar, like hyperactivity, like glucose is definitely the like burn hot and fast fuel. Whereas fat is like the slow burn type fuel. Right? And so there is, I don't, this is probably as far as I'm aware, not really been tested, whether dogs actually have like a CRA a peak and crash in energy after eating a carbohydrate rich meal. I don't know if that's really a thing or not, but it's a hundred percent a thing in human beings. Like we see it of course all the time. Cause your body does the same thing. It goes, oh God, there's tons of glucose. We need to burn this glucose up as much as we can. And so it's like sugar crazy. And then it's out of the blood and we crash So similar that's yeah, this is all good. And so misconception number four does really tied nicely. We just talked about diabetes. You go to your fat for metabolic disorders. My dog has gained too much weight. My dog has diabetes or has symptoms of diabetes. And a lot of times your dog can prescribe certain foods. So misconception number four, but the dog food that my vet prescribed me has carbs in it. Yeah. I mean, that is unfortunately the reality, you know, the, that the vast majority of pet food products that are recommended by veterinarians in the United States today are stuffed with carbohydrates that have far more carbohydrate than any Wolf has ever eaten, far more carbohydrate than your dog needs. and the reasons that that is a cultural phenomenon, the reasons why veterinarians prescribed those types of foods in the great majority of instances is well beyond the scope of this show. We'd run the whole more vet smoke camels series, but essentially that the story at one sentence level, the story is vets have been misled by an industry that's rich enough to do that effectively. The whole community has kind of been misled by folks who have a huge profit motive to have vets believe that carbohydrate is a good thing for dogs. And so they've all been misled, but really sophisticated way in a way that like we've seen time and again, in U S industry, it's like just like how doctors used to view smoking prior to, consensus being reached that smoking causes lung cancers. There are very, very common perspective among doctors was that cigarettes have no particular negative health impact that they in fact do healthy things for the body and that there are healthier and less healthy kinds of cigarettes. And it took decades for the scientific community to like adopt on a wide wide level. The idea that, oh God, we were wrong. We were misled about this. And the veterinary community is just behind on that. So that's the why that kind of thing happens now with particularity what you will typically find. So veterinarians often one of the things that they can do when they recommended diet for a specific patient specific dog, is they can recommend a prescription only product. So there's some pet food products that, you can't go just buy from the store. You can only buy it with your veterinarian's prescription. And a few of those are products that are marketed as being appropriate, helpful for dogs with metabolic conditions like diabetes. Okay. And so there's really only a couple of companies that make prescription only pet foods. It's like Royal Canin and Hill's pet nutrition are kind of the only ones. And both of them, usually sometimes this like their product lines change and stuff, but usually they both sell a metabolic anti diabetes formula and that formula will inevitably contain a significant amount of digestible carbohydrate. So what you're describing is a real thing that happens, your dog has diabetes. You go to the vet, you've experienced, like I'm not telling you anything. You don't know Real. Yeah. Johnny's diabetes. You go to the vet, what do I do? The vet says, well, one thing we're gonna do is we're going to put it on a prescription diabetes formula or two that they can choose from or whatever three. And they all have the same general composition, which is it's like at least 30% digestible carbohydrates. So 30% of the product is going to be the glucose that your dog can't deal with. And then it's got other stuff in it as well. the reason that those products can be sold as prescription products for dogs, with metabolic disorders, despite the fact they have so much carbohydrate in them is that essentially they've been shown to be somewhat better than the fully carved out versions of those same products. So Hill's pet nutrition wants to demonstrate to the FDA that it's got a product that is effective for dogs with diabetes. While it has to do is go, this is our regular food product. That's 60% carbohydrate and here's our metabolic proposed metabolic formula. That's 30% digestible carbohydrate. And when we give these two to two different groups of dogs, we see that the dogs on the 30% carbohydrate diet have somewhat lower blood glucose than the dogs on the 60% carbohydrate diet, which of course is exactly what you should expect. But if you're Hill's pet nutrition, you also have a really strong profit motive to not just get carbohydrate down to zero. You can't do that because they don't want to pay to put a ton of meat, which is where you get protein back from, into the product in order to make it and to work within their business model. They've got to still use a ton 30% of the product from like a source of digestible carbohydrate like corn, most often with Hill's products, it's corn. And so you're right, like your, your vet is, is right in thinking that this is a better product for a dog with diabetes than the non-prescription Hill's product, but where your vet is wrong. Is that thinking that the 30% prescription only Hill's metabolic formula is more appropriate for a dog with diabetes than a very low carbohydrate, zero carbohydrate complete and balanced formula, that's where they're wrong. And so that's where you'll often hear people get what is, advice that's not supported by the evidence, with regard to diabetes and what kind of diet should be. Yeah, correct. And, and I will say switching from a prescription food that was nearing 40% carbs to a food that was 5% carbs, the amount of insulin dink decrease that I had to give my dog. Now, granted, my dog is 10 pounds. So we're talking like a couple of units here and there, but it was just significant, like significant. Like It's like I have a regulatory fight. You know, we sell low carb, dog food. We don't, it's not prescription only. And so, because it's not prescription only, we have their rules that apply to what we can. And can't say about what it does to a dog's body. I can't go out and say, my food will treat or prevent your dog from developing hyperglycemia diabetes. That's not something you can say, cause we haven't gone through, this is not a prescription, only food. We have gone through that whole regulatory process. What we can say, at least what I do say. And I fight with regulators over is I can say, no, no, no, no. This product will reduce. If you are otherwise feeding your dog. If it alls is being the same, but you're switching for me, high carbohydrate, 40% plus carbohydrate diet to Katonah a product with less than 5% carbohydrate, your dog's postprandial blood glucose is going to come down. Right. And that's not a matter of me saying it's going to fix a disease. That's just a physiological fact. That's what happens. There is less of that product. That's getting turned into glucose and getting pumped out into the bloodstream. Couldn't be simpler. You still get regulators. Regulation happens on a state level. And so you have to deal with individual states when you're dealing with right. Regulatory matters, pet food. And so you get that, try to push on that still. And I just get advice with them basically, cause I don't roll over on it because it's just not, it's just not true. It's just not true that you can, that, that a patient and a dog shouldn't expect to see a lower blood glucose and lower insulin, lower exogenous insulin needs. Like you said, when, when you take the carbohydrate out of its diet, like that's just what, it's just as simple as a it's as simple as pie. Yeah. It's it seems like the, like the facts are right there and yet you still have to have that back and forth battle. It's just blows my mind. Nah, I mean, again, it only does, if you, if you, if you're somebody that believes that, smart people, legitimately smart people are discerning and critical and skeptical enough in their approach to everything that they're taking in that they're going to reliably be able to overcome the kind of informational pressure that billion dollar companies have managed to refine as a strategy over the course of four decades. Okay. Like there are 20 something veterinary schools in the United States and they got 200, 300 kids in each class. Okay. Like if you gave me a company that does $4 billion in business a year and said, you got to teach all those guys that the, that water is wet or that the sky is green. You've got, you're not going to be able to get everybody. You're gonna be able to get some people. And if you're talking about something that is much less obvious and easy to refute, then those counterfactuals, if you're talking about something that's really just boils down to something you can't see with the naked eye that you got to test for. You're probably not going to test for that stuff is, I mean, like, I, I can't talk about this without linking it back to the history of tobacco in the United States, because so similar, it's just like basically this stuff, it seems like common sense if you're from the outside looking in, but if you've been raised up in an environment where everything you've taught about health and nutrition has been influenced hugely by folks that want to push propaganda, that wants you to believe something, regardless of whether it's true, I'm sorry. Like I don't, I just don't believe that people are particularly good. Even the smartest people out there are particularly good at rising above that and getting out of it. It's just that hard, you know, like it's not the case that, the Q Anon conspiracy theory is that, you know, 15 people, that are, that are living under a rock together. Okay. It's millions of people. And that is a thing where the counterfeit it's like it, you know, it is so complete and they're genuine believers. This isn't, it might be hard for somebody that doesn't believe in that stuff to take on board. The idea I'll come on. They can't really believe. Nope. That is true belief. That is true belief. And when you get saturated, informational environment, that that stuff happens. And, yeah, it happens at a professional level too. Happens everywhere. All right, let's bring it on home misconception, number five, but I'm already buying grain-free doesn't that have less carbs and is better for my dog. So here the take home image, if like, you know, we got the jelly donut and a, I forget what the other ones were. It was a take home image here is the square and the rectangle. Okay. And again, I'll build to what I mean, basically the answer is just because a product is grain-free means that doesn't mean anything about its carbohydrate content. What it is is a slight of hand. It is a expression that has become popular in the world of pet food, because it feels like low carb that if you don't look too carefully, grain-free we all know grains equal carbohydrate. And so it's grain-free so it's probably less carbohydrate, but in a literal sense, all it means is that there are no grains in there. And if you make pet food, you can put cheap, digestible carbohydrate into your product without grains. And most particularly comes from, tubers where, you know, potatoes and sweet potatoes, those things are very starchy. They're products of agriculture. And you can just as inexpensively, put that stuff into pet food as corn or rice or any, grain products. So just because something is grain-free does not mean that it is low in carbohydrate carbohydrate content quite to the contrary, more often than not it's per it's, just as high in carbohydrate content as a product that uses grains for its carbs. It just comes from a different place. Yeah. That's the type of carb they're using. Like you said, tubers, but it's a different type of starch. It's still spikes their blood sugar. It still does all the physiological effects in the dog. It's still can contribute to obesity. It still can contribute to other metabolic disorders. It's just coming from a different source. Like you Said, We're in the rectangle. Well, so, okay. No. So here's the square and the rectangle, the square and the rectangle is that all, let me make sure. I don't say this wrong. All squares are rectangles. Not all rectangles are squares, right? A square is a four-sided object where all four sides are the same size. A rectangle is just any four-sided object where the two sides that are parallel to each other are the same size, right? So you see some rectangles that are long skiing. Some that are short and fat square, obviously all four sides of the same. So all squares are rectangles. Not all rectangles are squares in the same way. I think it is fair to say that basically all in order to be an optimally healthy pet food, there should be, it should be. Grain-free like the op for me, the gold standard, and this is not the product that we make. FYI, a perfect if budget and convenience are no option, no, no issue for you. Excuse me. Then you should feed a raw, all meats, complete and balanced, commercially prepared diet for your pet that is nutritionally optimal for the animal. Those are the guidelines that we'll give you. And every one of those products, because it's all me is grain-free. So just like, it's like a, every square is also a rectangle. There's no way you can make a square. It's not a rectangle. There's no way you can make an all meat product without making a grain grain-free of course. Right. That said not all rectangles are squares. Not all grain-free products are also low in carbohydrate, high in meat, high in protein. So it's the same kind of thing, just because it says grain-free, shouldn't indicate to you that it is high quality, but oh, by the way, all of the really high quality products will in all likelihood be grain-free as well. Yeah. I love that. It's so simple, but yet complex, But it's just another, I mean, it's like, it's another one of these cases where it's just shows like, just a little slight of hand that when you, when you take a step back and talk about it a little, it just feels like the most common sense thing in the world where it's like, oh yeah, I guess grains are not the only source of carbohydrates. Like, okay, well, sorry. People until this whole DCM controversy came around, a third of the market was grain-free and it's all driven. There's not one study that says, well, grain carbohydrates are uniquely bad. So you take them out and your dog's going to get healthier. There's nothing that says that. And yet billions of dollars a year, tens of millions of people in the United States alone, just going, yeah. That's that's like, yeah. Grain-free I know my dog probably shouldn't have grain carbohydrate. This is, this is the right. This is healthier. And it's like, Nope. And it's just, again, it's just this like how well, things like information environment, social pressure, conformity can make you just like a little bit willfully ignorant of, you know, stuff that feels like common sense. Yeah. I agree. And these, all these misconceptions, as we walk through Emilio, we hope that you enjoyed this framework. And I always find it informational in terms of hearing the language that I hear. And then hearing Dan's kind of like interpretation, through the scientific medium of like, okay, well actually these, you know, studies and physiology, and even back to the wolves, heritage, all of these things can really, really drive it home of like, it's undisputed. Like you can't argue with everything that you said, it's not you, like I said, a misconception and you said, well, I think that where it should, you know, it's, it's very scientific driven. And that's what we're all about here on the podcast. So There are like, you know, there are plenty of issues where, professionally informed people can disagree about how to interpret the evidence. Right? All kinds of stuff. Not on any of these issues though. These are all these things we talked about. Everyone is on the same page in what the evidence shows. And yet you get these huge different, it's just insane that in a community where we all know, ask any veterinarian, what, what matters when you're trying to discern fact from, non fact in, in making recommendations for your patients? Well, the state of the evidence, that's all that matters. That's the only thing you can go on, right? Nobody's like, well, magic magic matters a lot. Or like popularity, of course not those things don't matter to a veterinarian. They're driven by science. Every one of these issues, the science is undisputed. These are not things where if somebody is pushing back on this, you're not pushing back on it because you're like, no, the studies don't show that. Well, what was actually do make amylase and blah, blah, blah. Like, that's not a thing. That's all, this is all undisputed. And yet you can have huge communities and people arrive at two completely opposite conclusions. It's just, it's just like wild Because it's wild. It's a wild world. That's why we do these episodes to help educate people. and, and thank you for listening. This is the end of the episode. And until next time, thank you for listening and being part of this feed your dog facts community, and we'll continue to talk more science in the next episode. Thanks. All good to talk to you, Jen. Bye.