comic index blood sugar levels
The glycemic index or GI is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates in food on blood sugar levels. Foods that are slowly digested – “low glycemic index” foods – have been claimed to help with weight loss and diabetes prevention, although there’s no real scientific proof to support this claim.
It is better to focus on other aspects of your dog’s diet first by making sure he receives correct portions of meat-based proteins, cooked starches like rice, and fresh vegetables. Also, make sure he gets the right amount of exercise for his body type because this can affect metabolism (bodyweight) more than anything else; large breeds need more calories than small breeds but less compared to medium-sized dogs. Even within the same breed, your dog may need more or less depending on his metabolism.
The best way to find out if a food has a low glycemic index is simply to search the web for the names of popular brands of commercial foods and lookup tables online which are usually published by independent sources. You’ll usually find that “low-end” commercial foods have unfavorable glycemic indexes for any given carb content while high-end, grain-free foods will often have low GI regardless of their carb content. Following table lists examples of both types:
Some owners decide to make their homemade food, using ingredients similar to what would be found in commercial dry kibble. This makes it easier to achieve desirable feeding ratios because recipes are already calculated for you unlike with home-cooked meals. The problem lies with all the controversy surrounding carbohydrate requirements for dogs and how to calculate them.
Some people recommend using the NRC (National Research Council) numbers, others go by category (starch, sugar), some use total carbs, etc. One of the most reliable pieces of information comes from canine nutritionist Dr. Lisa Pierson who was kind enough to provide us with a table she compiled for GI in dry kibble:
This means that if your dog’s bag of food lists 35% carbohydrates on its label it will have a glycemic index comparable to watermelon at 90-100 because their equivalent carb percentages are approximately the same. If you switch to food containing 25% carbs it would be similar to butternut squash with its GI of 120-126.
Now, for comparison purposes, here are the glycemic indexes for several popular fruits, vegetables, and starches. Data was obtained from this website.
As you can see, dogs have a much lower requirement for carbohydrates than humans do. Fruit is generally considered safe to feed your dog unless otherwise stated but not every owner likes giving fruit to his dog because it upsets digestion or simply because he prefers other forms of carbs like brown rice instead.
For whatever reason, many people try feeding their dogs root veggies which are very high in carbohydrates so even though they have glycemic indexes similar to potatoes they may still be too carb-wise depending on where they fall on the food label. You should always speak to your vet first before trying any new carbohydrate sources.
Nutritional requirements are just that – requirements. The best way to meet them is by feeding the right ratios of meat-based proteins, starches, vegetables, and fruits rather than worrying about which carbs are low glycemic index. Of course, this doesn’t apply if you have a diabetic dog or any other medical condition which requires you to control your daily carb intake closely.
In that case, focus on the glycemic index when picking a food because it’s a quick and easy way to find high(er) GI foods. Finally, keep in mind that this index is simply a guideline so it’s always best to monitor your dog closely for symptoms associated with too much or too little carbs in his diet.
Helpful tip: If you ever search online for low-glycemic home-cooked options – make sure you read the nutritional information provided by the website; if they only provide the carb content (e.g., 10% of crude fiber), ignore their recipe entirely! Such sites will usually give you details like fat content, calories, etc. if they do not then don’t waste your time.