Can Your Dog Survive on a Starch-Rich Diet?

By November 28 | See Comments

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Can Your Dog Survive on a Starch-Rich Diet?

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Dogs are a source of joy and happiness to their owners. It is, therefore, not surprising to see owners pay the same amount of attention to what they are buying for their dog as they would their own food. Dog owners and animal lovers, in general, are wary of the foods advertised for their beloved pets. Sometimes, they even let their four-legged friends eat off their dinner plates.Take a closer look at the nutrition information on dog foods and you can see that it contains about 40 percent carbohydrates. Even the food you eat – potatoes, rice, pasta, etc. – that you loving feed to your dog, are rich in carbohydrates (and starch). These starchy foods, when fed in excess, can cause high blood sugar levels and obesity. Therefore, while you may think that your eating habits are bringing you closer to your dog, it is also harming your friend’s digestive system.All this information may turn you off from feeding carbohydrates to your dog. But, fret not! Geneticists at Uppsala University in Sweden have found that dogs have evolved to be able to digest starch-rich foods. Comparing the DNA and evolutionary biology of the dog and the wolf, the geneticists concluded that dogs are able to handle their starch better.When you compare the digestive characteristics of dogs with other pets, you will find one significant difference- the presence of the enzyme, Amylase. This enzyme, produced in the saliva, is responsible for breaking down carbohydrates before it reaches the stomach. Since starch is plant-based, Amylase is abundant in herbivores and omnivores, not carnivores.Dogs, despite their diet, are considered carnivores. Their biology affirms it. Thus, evolution dictates that they cannot produce Amylase in their saliva. However, the enzyme is present in their digestive system and is added in the pancreas and small intestine. The presence of Amylase in their bodies enables dogs to consume and process starchy carbohydrates without any side effects.Some pet food companies use this single research as proof that dogs can survive on starch-rich foods and promote the same in their ads. This cannot be further from the truth. The fact that dogs are able to digest starch does not mean you can make an extra helping of rice or pasta or feed that “carbohydrate-rich” pet food as your dog’s meal every day.In conclusion, starch-rich foods are not really life-threatening for dogs if given in small portions. Ensure it does not form a majority of the dog’s meal. Excessive starch can lead to a number of digestive problems. Obesity is also caused by feeding starch-rich meals to your pooch. While the energy and fiber from these foods are essential for your dog, it is vital to ensure a wholesome meal consisting of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

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