There are many benefits to carbohydrates in pet food, however various pet-related blogs and websites seem to degrade them. We look into the evidence that opposes some of the commonly heard arguments.
Carbohydrates are an essential part of a pets’ diet and one of three categories of macronutrients alongside protein and fat in the diets of animals. Sugars, starches and dietary fibres are types of carbohydrate that play different roles in the diet.
Sugars are the smallest and simplest form of carbohydrates. The most basic form of carbohydrate is glucose which is a monosaccharide. Glucose is the most important source of energy in animal cells but is rarely found in nature. When enzymes break down starch, glucose becomes available. These small glucose molecules are able to pass through the cell membrane and release energy when it is metabolised. In nature, most available sugars are in the form of disaccharides (two monosaccharides joined together) examples include; sucrose, lactose, and maltose.
Despite the perception that some dogs should be fed the same food as wolves, studies have confirmed they can digest starches and break them down into sugars as an available source of energy. Whilst cats don’t have a specific requirement for starches they are able to utilise them as an energy source. Both cats and dogs have the necessary enzymes to break starch down into small molecules, which can help to produce energy for their cells. In the wild, both cats and dogs would consume some carbohydrates from the digestive tract of their prey. Starch also plays an important role in the structure of kibble. Dry extruded pet foods require an amount of structure-forming ingredients, like starches to support the shape, texture and expansion of kibble.
Depending on its solubility and fermentability dietary fibre can provide health benefits to cats and dogs. Soluble fibre dissolves in water and is fermented in the colon. This type of fibre supports digestion by stimulating the growth beneficial intestinal microbes through fermentation, which helps to reduce harmful bacteria colonisation. Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water and instead absorbs water as it moves through the digestive tract. This type of fibre helps to form a bulk to pass through the digestive tract and help with faecal consistency. Insoluble fibre does not provide any energy and will not contribute to weight gain. This type of fibre may be used in ‘light’ diets to help provide satiety without contributing energy.
Here at Eardley Hall your Superfood 65 and Grain Free Range recipes, have been formulated to contain sweet potato as the main carbohydrate source. Sweet potato is an excellent alternative carbohydrate that provides dietary fibre to help support a healthy digestive system and good stool formation.