Starch is used as a binding agent in food, which helps to keep the food in shape.
Starch, or carbohydrate, is an important part of the extrusion process for dog food. Most dry dog foods contain 30%-60% starch. Those carbs can help keep costs down for the pet food manufacturer but also helps the food retain its place. For kibble, Starch gelatinizes when exposed to heat and moisture, which helps bind the food into kibble form.
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Large amounts of starchy carbohydrates in a dog's diet can lead to obesity and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can lead to diabetes and increases the risk of developing thyroid disease and some forms of cancer. To help your dog maintain a healthy weight, reducing the amount of carbohydrates they eat is super important.
Starch is generally required to some extent to help bind pet food and pet treats, so it can't be avoided completely. Plus, a little bit of starch is fine for dogs – especially if it's from natural ingredients. To help make it easier, we've created a list of some high starch ingredients to avoid and some healthy replacements.
Wheat and Cereal
Cereal and wheat are both grains that are complex carbohydrates made up of starch which turns into sugar and fat. We often forget that dogs are actually animals – habitually out in the wild, eating meat, vegetables, and plants.
Because of this biology, it is said that they don't fully digest. Amylase is an enzyme that breaks down starchy carbohydrates, and dogs do not have enough of it in their bodies to fully break down, digest, and metabolise these carbs.
Pumpkin is loaded with essential nutrients such as Vitamins A, C, E, and B. It's a great natural low-calorie alternative, a natural source of fiber that is great for improving digestion.
Although corn isn't harmful to dogs, corn starch and cornflour are often used as a filler in dog food, which provides little to no nutritional benefit. It is very high in carbohydrates so switching corn out for a healthier alternative (such as tapioca) is a great way to keep your dog healthy.
As premium dog brands shift from grains and potato starch, there has been an increase in tapioca being used as the binding ingredient in healthier food brands. Tapioca has little to no fat in it and is a dense energy source, which acts like fibre to help the dog maintain consistent digestion.
White potato is a starch-rich vegetable, so switching this for sweet potato is an easy, healthier alternative.
Sweet potatoes have more antioxidants and vitamins than white potatoes. They also have a lower glycemic index, which means they are less sugary than white potatoes and are better for dogs' blood sugar. Choosing products that use sweet potato as the starch rather than white potato is an excellent way to promote a healthier diet for your dog.
What does Bell & Bone do differently?
Raw food has very little starch in it, which is why raw feeding is very popular amongst dog owners. Freeze-Dried Dog Treats eliminate the cooking process and, as such, are raw, which is why our Freeze-Dried Dog treats have no starch and are a healthy alternative for your dog.
Our Superfood Dog Treat range uses chia, flaxseed, and coconut flour compared to traditional wheat to remove the adverse effects of high carbohydrate ingredients by replacing them with natural and healthy alternatives.
However, at Bell & Bone, we need a bit of starch to bind together our Bell & Bone Dental Sticks. This also allows them to have the required chewiness to help remove plaque from your dog's teeth. The Bell & Bone point of difference is that we only use healthy ingredients (i.e., grain-free and all-natural) using healthy alternatives such as sweet potato and tapioca. If you compare our dental sticks to other dental sticks on the market, you'll find ours are super healthy, with kangaroo as the first ingredient, with mint, parsley, chia, coconut, and turmeric throughout.
Weight management is as essential for your dog's health as ours. We hope the above information will help you pick healthy dog treats when shopping for your pup and will help you identify which ingredients you should be avoiding in your dog's diet.
Being a dedicated dog owner often involves:
- Asking the right questions.
- Seeking the right advice and, most importantly.
- Checking in with your pup to ensure health and happiness.
More than anything, it is my priority to keep you informed and empowered.