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Why a dog’s diet of High Protein Low Carb is medically recommended


bad-carbs-dog-treats As anyone has read my blog or bought from our healthy dog treat shop knows, I am a massive advocate of meat protein for dogs from an evolution, digestion point of view. Bio  supports this but I was curious as to what the dog food companies could use to discredit dogs being carnivores and needing High percentages of meat in their diet.

We consult science journals and show you the how the affco table minimum amino acid requirements stack up against grain and meat, and why your dog needs a lot more meat in their diet.

I have read books (written by dog food companies insiders) that give their version of the science reason for carbs being good for dogs, but the truth they use is very subjective and derivative being based on scant ‘facts’.

So if you can’t really construct a good case of why carnivores should have to eat carbs (except for profits) then second best is to discredit high protein. But as you will see .. the truth is in the omission .. what exactly how is meat connected to kidney issues?  Read on..


The flimsy case against high protein (meat) dog food

If you search for information on the case against protein for dogs, they will often tell you something vague like ” The amount of proteins a dog needs will depend on the age, size and activity level of the dog.”

however they do give an interesting insight, THEY say: “On average, the percentage of proteins needed by dogs will be:

  • 28% for puppies
  • 18% for adult canines”

” The percentage of proteins may be found on the food labels, but you should know that due to the manufacturing process and the storage, the amount of proteins can decrease.” REF 1

Firstly you should know that 18% (Adult Maintenance Minimum) and 22% (Growth & Reproduction Minimum)  are taken from the AAFCO  (an American advisory consortium heavily infected by a committee full of  dog food manufacturers).

That the AAFCO standard is the global standard (because not other country can be bothered and imports a lot of American dog food). AND   AFFCO levels are required to be met to be called a dog food that is ‘balanced and whole’ – but they are advisory only – they don’t have any power to ban dog food nor to make decent rules either it seems.

The reason the AAFCO protein and essential amino acid values are SUSPECT

Before we look at the argument against high protein, it is extremely important to understand how the Minimum percentage values of protein came about in dog food. In theory they are constructed mostly by trial and error experiments with a small number of dogs. There have been many articles discrediting their tables, but they are accepted as universal, because money is power.

The reality is that by giving LOW minimum protein and amino acids (components that make up protein) levels, but just high enough so most dogs don’t get sick, the dog food manufactures can continue to sell low cost grain to you as dog food.

The table below shows you the minimum protein levels and the minimum essential amino acids RECOMMENDED by aafco (10 of the 22 amino acids that make up any protein).

The low value of protein and amino acids ensure that that dog food is allowed to be 30% grain with a top up of meat, to achieve the low values. If you look at the columns for:

  • Wheat flour, whole-grain
  • Rice, brown, medium-grain, raw

You will see that even with almost all the water extracted (about 12% water each grain type) that they FAIL to meet about HALF the minimum aaffco requirements for essential amino acids. The failed amino acids are shown in RED FONT.

Factor in bio availability so that up to half of these levels that fail the minimum requirements actually have about half of their shown values available to the dog to digest, and you will see how useless these two main carb grains are to be in dog food.

AFFCO nutrition table for Protein and essential amino acids, compared to values for: wheat, rice, beef and chicken

AAFCO AAFCO AAFCO Ref2 Ref3 Ref 4 Ref5
Units DM Basis Growth & Reproduct Minimum Adult Maint.


MAX Wheat flour, whole-grain Rice, brown, medium-grain, raw Beef, cured, dried Chicken, broilers cooked
Crude Protein % 22.5 18 13.7 7.50% 31.1 25.9
Arginine % 1 0.51 0.642 0.569 1.859 1.661
Histidine % 0.44 0.19 0.317 0.19 0.917 0.738
Isoleucine % 0.71 0.38 0.508 0.318 1.308 1.253
Leucine % 1.29 0.68 0.926 0.62 2.287 1.854
Lysine % 0.9 0.63 0.378 0.286 2.249 2.061
Methionine % 0.35 0.33 0.212 0.169 0.749 0.675
Methionine-cystine % 0.7 0.65 0.317 0.091 0.371 0.354
Phenylalanine % 0.83 0.45 0.646 0.387 1.135 0.996
Phenylalaninetyrosine % 1.3 0.74 0.4 0.281 0.916 0.813
Threonine % 1.04 0.48 0.395 0.275 1.148 1.059
Trytophan % 0.2 0.16 0.212 0.096 0.189 0.282
Valine % 0.68 0.49 0.616 0.44 1.426 1.244
WATER 12% 12.40% 53.8% 53.5%

Beef, cured, dried  and  Chicken, broilers cooked protein for dog food

I chose these two meats as they are ones that are readily available for dog food, and we can get data from the same site as for the grains.

You will see that the two meat options I chose (closest to dry that I could find) BOTH have about 53%  water in them (as opposed to the grains having 12% water).  THIS is just what the data table displayed – just mentioning so you know its not an even playing field for comparison. BUT even at these high levels of water – ie very diluted) the meats pass EVERY amino acid minimum level except Methionine-cystine.  Of course in dried form (12% water) these meats also pass this amino acid minimum level easily.

AND that is why you have ANY meat in dog food at all. Yes dogs should be eating 90% (meat offal and bones) as they are 90% carnivore – however with low aafco protein standards, dog food manufacturers can replace meat with grains that cost 10% of meat.

Titles like ” The Dangers of High Protein Dog Foods” Ref 6 ” are mostly click bait with grain based dog food ads in the page. But we explore what this topic actually means, besides trying to frighten people away from feeding dogs the ideal dog food callled meat. The article I reference gives a good summations of why the same ‘kidney issue‘ story is rolled out across every dog food promoting site.

The reference articles advice to feed low protein foods (ie grains) has things like ” Excessive protein consumption is unnecessary for dogs at best and for some dogs with medical conditions can actually be harmful.” Ref 6

They will, take excessive to anyone trying to feed a dog anything but commercial dog food and the meagre amount of meat uncontained In it. They go on:

” Proteins are the building blocks of the body and an absolute necessity for daily function. However, when a dog consumes too much protein in a meal it cannot all be utilized at one time, nor can it be stored for later. The body will then excrete the excess protein through the kidneys and out of the body via urine. Thus the quality of the protein actually becomes more important that than actual amount as a high quality protein is more bio-available and can be better absorbed by the body.”

Please understand they just made the case for Meat based diets !  MEAT is the only Bio-available protein source on this planet for dogs, AND the one that has to be added to grain to achieve minimum affco levels.

You will also read that excess protein is excreted out of the dogs body, just like any excess water based vitamin like and vitamin B.  It is not stored as fat it is either used or discarded!

ONLY if a dog has a badly damaged kidney does the amount of protein become an issue for dogs.

They also continue with their misdirection: “When a diet is mostly meat, it becomes very difficult to maintain a proper calcium-phosphorus ratio. When this ratio is out of balance disruptions in bone growth or kidney damage can occur.” REF  6

Keeping a calcium phosphorus balance is important, but the wording is complete misdirection, worthy of the greatest magicians. For hundreds of thousands of years wolves (dogs ancestor) have been keeping the balance with the right amount of BONE in their diet.  Dogs fed on a raw home-made diet also have this balance by eating raw bones. This is what I do for my dog with raw chicken necks every day,

More pet food misdirection.

” Protein is a calorie dense nutrient and many of the high protein diets are extremely high in calories and can quickly lead to weight gain.” Ref 6

Anyone with a glancing knowledge of nutrition will know that protein and carbs have approximately the SAME calorie count per 100g of dried meat or carbs. There use of phrases like “many of the high protein diets” is supposed to confuse you into thinking they mean MEAT PROTEIN diet, but of course they don’t specify, because there is protein in meat and carbs. Its just that meat protein is SO much better for a dog and bio-available.

Bio-Availability – The Reason You Need Meat Based Dog Treats With Commercial Dog Food (Grain Based).

What leads to weight gain is giving TOO MUCH FOOD. NOT the level of carbs or meat (because they have virtually the same energy level. Fat has about 2.5 times the amount of energy per gram, so yes low fat means lower calories in dog food, but animal fat also serves a vital function in dog nutrition. If you want to stop dog obesity take your dog regularly for a walk and keep its total food intake in check. It has nothing to do with energy levels from protein, or meat protein in particular !

Best wrap up comment in a comedy goes to:

They say to choose dog food that is developed by pet food companies because ” This will provide a pet food that is properly balanced without any excess nutrients that are unnecessary and in some cases harmful for your dog. ” Ref 6

The reality is dogs are very protein deficient in general, because they mostly eat grains (see table above). They get the bare minimum so that dog food makers can maximise the amount of cheap grain they can sell you – and its legitimised by affco (covertly controlled by the dog food companies).

aafco – An ‘independent’ Govt Committee full of private company ‘advisors’

The only “excess nutrients” dog food provides is the vitamins and some minerals. And they are literally provided ‘in excess’ on purpose.  The affco levels are more than dogs need – to ensure you buy dog food.  This is because no ‘natural’ combination of meat and grain can be called ‘dog food’. THAT is why you always see a LOT of minerals and vitamins ADDED to dog food (check your ingredient list now). Not because their aren’t enough in meat, but because it ensures you HAVE to buy commercial dog food, or understand how to do a raw diet.

You can add a human grade vitamin and mineral tablet to your dogs diet every day like I do if you are worried about complying with the affco recommendations. I do just as an insurance policy.  Just ensure that what you add doesn’t go over the maximum prescribed levels of affco vitamin (the oil based vitamins) and mineral section.

This just plays it safe and costs very little without sacrificing the meat protein that every dog needs.


When we say “High Protein Low Carb diet, we mean high animal source (meat, offal, and bone) in the right proportions.


For most people having to weed through the nutrition tables is beyond their desire to do the right thing by their dog. We blindly trust the big corporations to tell us the truth, but that is way too trusting. Just knowing why your dog food has what it has in it, and how that is sanctioned by an American company should prick your ears up.

This article is about providing some evidence based research on why meat protein is vital to your dog and how they just don’t get enough in regular dog food. Our solution is meat based dog treats.

By all means if you are concerned with changing a dog’s diet, consult your vet. If your dog has a kidney problem, we agree that a low protein diet is best. However for the 99% of other dogs out there, not having a high protein diet (meat) might just be the cause of their kidney issues.


Ref 1

Ref 2   Wheat flour, = whole-grain

Ref 2  Rice, brown, medium-grain, raw  =

Ref 3   Beef, cured, dried =

Ref    Chicken, broilers or fryers, back, meat and skin, cooked, roasted =

Ref  6

x  affco data table

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