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 keep its place. For kibble, Starch gelatinizes when it’s exposed to heat and moisture, which helps to bind the food into kibble form.


Large amounts of starchy carbohydrate in a dog’s diet can lead to obesity and insulin resistance in dogs. 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 & Cereal:

Cereal and wheat are both grains which 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 and E as well as the B. It’s a great natural low calorie alternative, which is a natural source of fibre which is great for improving digestion.


Although corn isn’t harmful to dogs, corn starch and corn flour is 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 brand 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 dog maintain consistent digestion.

White Potato:

A white potato is a very starch rich vegetable, so switching this for a sweet potato is an easy healthier alternative.

Sweet Potato:

Sweet potatoes have more antioxidants and vitamins that white potatoes. They also have a lower glycemic index, which means they are less sugary than white potatoes and as such is better for dog’s blood sugar. Choosing products which use sweet potato as the starch rather than white potato is a good way to promote a healthier diet for your dog.

What 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 out 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 the traditional wheat to remove the negative effects that high carbohydrate ingredients have, by replacing it with natural healthy alternatives.

However, at Bell & Bone we do need a bit of starch in order to bind together our Bell & Bone Dental Sticks. This also allows them to have the chewiness needed to help remove plague from your dog’s teeth. The Bell & Bone point of difference, is that we only 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 that ours are super healthy with kangaroo as the first ingredient, with mint, parsley, chia, coconut and turmeric throughout.

Weight management is as important for your dog’s health as it is to ours. We hope the above will help you to 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.