There are many reasons somebody might consider putting their pup on low carb dog food. Dogs with diabetes, Cushing’s disease, or obesity may benefit from food that’s lower in carbs. Additionally, dogs don’t require carbohydrates in their diet – carbs just make for cheap, easy filler in commercial dog foods. If you’re looking for the best low carb dog food, we have the top 10 picks for 2020.
Tips for Picking a Low Carb Dog Food
Just because a dog food is low in carbs, that doesn’t automatically make it healthy. Here are some things to watch out for when picking a low carb dog food.
Fat isn’t inherently bad. In fact, dogs need fat in their diet to be healthy. Those fats should come from good sources, though, like chicken fat, fish oil, or flaxseed rather than canola oil.
Generally, whole animal meat is more nutritious than meal, which is more highly processed and cooked at a higher temperature, which removes more nutrients. Also, avoid animal by-products, as those are parts of the animal that humans won’t eat and contain little to no nutrition.
Figuring Out the Carb Content
Dog foods don’t list the carb content on their food. To figure it out, add up all the percentages that they do list (protein, fat, etc.) and subtract that number from 100 to get the carb percentage. Since some ingredients, like protein and fat, are usually listed as a minimum, you can count on the carb number being a maximum amount.
Omega Fatty Acids
Omega-3 and omega-6 are crucial fatty acids that your dog needs for a healthy skin and coat. Dog food tends to be high in omega-6 and low in omega-3 – if the food you select for your pup is low in omega-3, you might want to consider a supplement.
The Best Low Carb Dog Food
Made from at least 38% protein and 17% fat, the Merrick Grain-Free Duck + Sweet Potato food is a great dog food with high-quality ingredients. It’s made in the United States and features deboned duck as the first ingredient, with two more animal proteins (chicken meal and turkey meal) as the next couple of ingredients.
- No wheat, corn, soy, gluten, or artificial preservatives
- Made with 70% protein and healthy fat
- Deboned duck is the first ingredient
- Made in the USA
First 5 Ingredients: Deboned duck, chicken meal, turkey meal, peas, sweet potatoes
Max Carb Percentage: 26.7%
Customer Reviews: Most of the negative reviews are from people whose picky dogs didn’t like the taste. Overall, dogs love this food and do well on it.
Final Verdict: With high protein levels and hardly any complaints about dogs getting sick from this food, we feel comfortable choosing this food as our top pick for low carb dog food.
Low glycemic ingredients in Nulo Freestyle Turkey & Sweet Potato Grain-Free food help regulate your dog’s blood sugar levels, which is ideal for diabetic dogs. Fruits and vegetables are great for immune health, while probiotics help your dog’s digestion.
- Made from 85% animal-based proteins and low glycemic ingredients
- Wholesome fruits and vegetables support optimal immune health
- Includes probiotics for better digestion
- Made in the USA
First 5 Ingredients: Deboned turkey, turkey meal, salmon meal, chickpeas, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols & citric acid)
Max Carb Percentage: 30%
Customer Reviews: As with any food, not all dogs enjoy the taste of this food. Most dogs do like it and are thriving.
Final Verdict: With its low-glycemic ingredients and high protein levels, this food is great for diabetic dogs and others who need food that’s lower in carbohydrates.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain-Free Adult healthy Weight dog food is more affordable than many other low carb dog foods. It also includes Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits, which are packed full of vitamins and minerals.
- Added L-Carnitine boosts metabolism and helps burn fat
- Has Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits, which are cold-formed to maintain maximum nutritional value
- Contains glucosamine and chondroitin for a healthy skin and coat
- Protein from deboned chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal
First 5 Ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal (source of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate), pea protein, peas, tapioca starch
Max Carb Percentage: 35.6%
Customer Reviews: Interestingly, several dogs gained weight on this food rather than losing it. Apart from that and the few dogs who inevitably didn’t like the taste, most dogs do well with this food.
Final Verdict: While this isn’t the highest-quality or lowest-carb food on our list, it is one of the most affordable options, and it is a decent choice for dogs who need a low carb diet.
To get a truly low carb dog food, you need to look beyond kibble. This canned dog food is basically just shredded chicken with vitamins and minerals added to make it a complete and balanced diet, with few carbs required to hold it together.
- Complete and balanced diet
- Extremely low in carbs
- Recipe is grain-free, gluten-free, and contains no carrageenan
First 5 Ingredients: Chicken (boneless, skinless, white breast), water sufficient for processing, potato starch, sunflower seed oil, tricalcium phosphate
Max Carb Percentage: 1.9%
Customer Reviews: Complaints center mostly around people receiving either dented cans or cans that are mostly gravy with very little chicken. Overall, dogs adore this food, whether fed alone or as a topper mixed with kibble.
Final Verdict: This food is a little expensive to feed all by itself, but dogs love the taste, so it makes an excellent low carb food topper to add flavor to a low carb kibble.
With premium ingredients that provide nutrients naturally, Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural Grain-Free is an excellent choice for a low carb dog food. It contains a maximum of 23.2% carbs and has probiotics for digestive health. Additionally, their UPCs for trees program has resulted in more than half a million trees being planted in deforested areas around the world.
- Peas, cranberries, blueberries, carrots, apples, and spinach contain antioxidants for optimal health
- Balanced omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids for skin and coat health
- Turkey meal, chicken meal, and whitefish meal are high-quality protein sources
First 5 Ingredients: Turkey meal, chicken meal, peas, dried egg, pea starch
Max Carb Percentage: 23.2%
Customer Reviews: Many negative reviews seemed to center around a formula change about two years ago. Otherwise, it’s the usual complaints of dogs not liking the taste. Mostly, though, dogs love this food and thrive on it. People report that their dogs have fewer allergies and better poop.
Final Verdict: This is an excellent low carb dog food that many dogs will do well on and enjoy.
It’s challenging to find grain-inclusive foods that are low in carbs, but Victor Purpose Nutra Pro manages just that. It has whole grain millet as the third ingredient and a maximum carb percentage of 28.5%. It’s made in the USA with 92% meat protein.
- 92% meat protein with premium-quality chicken meal
- Grain-inclusive with gluten-free grains
- Made in the USA
First 5 Ingredients: Chicken meal, blood meal, whole grain millet, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), yeast culture
Max Carb Percentage: 28.5%
Customer Reviews: Some people report that their dogs had increased dandruff and shedding, vomiting, or diarrhea when switching to this food. However, this food came highly recommended by many breeders, and most customers report that their dogs do well on it.
Final Verdict: This food isn’t right for all dogs, but it’s a good grain-inclusive low carb option to consider.
Another grain-inclusive low carb dog food, Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete Formula is designed for dogs who are on the go all day long. It’s an excellent option for dogs who work or play all day, but the 25% fat is too much for dogs who are couch potatoes.
- Nutrient-rich and highly digestible recipe made with a proprietary probiotic blend
- Contains guaranteed levels of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health
- Made in the USA
First 5 Ingredients: Chicken meal, chicken, ground white rice, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), cracked pearled barley
Max Carb Percentage: 25%
Customer Reviews: Like any food, there are complaints of dogs who don’t like the taste or experienced intestinal issues after switching. Most dogs enjoy and do well on this food, though.
Final Verdict: This high-fat, grain-inclusive formula isn’t right for all dogs, but it may be perfect for your active dog.
To get truly low carb dog food, you have to look beyond kibble, but you don’t need to settle for canned food. Ziwi Peak Beef Air-Dried Dog Food has the convenience of kibble with only 4% carbs. This ultra-high protein formula is ideal for active dogs.
- Includes 96% fresh meat, organs, bones, and New Zealand green mussels
- Highly digestible
- No grains, peas, legumes, soy, corn, potatoes, rice, wheat, fillers, glycerin, sugars, rendered meals, or preservatives
First 5 Ingredients: Beef, beef heart, beef kidney, beef tripe, beef liver
Max Carb Percentage: 4%
Customer Reviews: Not all dogs love the texture of this food, and some owners complain about the price. However, most dogs go crazy for this food and thrive on it.
Final Verdict: This food is so expensive that many people use it as a treat rather than their dog’s primary diet. However, if you’re looking for ultra-low-carb dog food, this one is hard to beat.
Thanks to a patent-pending extrusion process, Wysong Epigen 90 Starch-Free Formula is the kibble with the lowest carb levels on the market, maxing out at 7.2% carbs. This unique formula comes at a premium price point, but it may be worth it for dogs who are especially sensitive to carbs.
- Patent-pending extrusion process creates a genuinely starch-free diet
- Includes beneficial antioxidants, probiotics, vitamins, and minerals; rich omega fatty acids help support a healthy skin and coat
- Made in the USA with domestically sourced, USDA and FDA-approved ingredients
First 5 Ingredients: Chicken meal, organic chicken, meat protein isolate, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), gelatin
Max Carb Percentage: 7.2%
Customer Reviews: There are reports of animals not liking the taste or shape of this food, and a few experienced digestive upset. It’s important to note that this food is advertised as a dog and cat food, and many of the negative reviews are from cat owners. Many dogs love this food and are doing well on it.
Final Verdict: This food is quite expensive, but it’s also very low in carbohydrates. The bonus is that if you have both cats and dogs, they can all eat the same food.
The experts in holistic pet nutrition since 1974, Solid Gold Barking at the Moon Grain-Free High-Protein food contains prebiotics and probiotics for extra digestibility.
- Contains prebiotics and 90 million probiotics per pound to help promote gut health
- Grain-free and gluten-free
- Made in the USA
First 5 Ingredients: Beef, ocean fish meal, pea protein, potatoes, dried eggs
Max Carb Percentage: 25.2%
Customer Reviews: As with most dog foods, some dogs didn’t like the taste of this or experienced stomach problems. Most dogs do well on this food, though, with improved stomach or skin issues.
Final Verdict: This is an excellent low carb dog food that many dogs will do well on.
Why Carbs Are in Dog Food
Carbs are needed to bind together the protein and fat in kibble. Without carbs, the kibble would crumble. Carbs are also a cheap filler ingredient, which is why some dog food is very high in carbs.
Final Thoughts on Low Carb Dog Food
Finding the right low carb dog food for your fur child can be tricky, but it is possible. We’ve listed 10 great options to choose from, so hopefully one will work for your pup. You may need to try a few to find one that your dog enjoys and that doesn’t upset their stomach.