GAPFA – The Science of Pet Food: Role of Carbohydrate

What is the main purpose of digestible carbohydrates in pet foods?

Digestible carbohydrates provide an important source of energy for the body in the form of glucose, which is the main form of energy for tissues like the brain and red blood cells. When carbohydrate supply is limited, glucose can also be synthesised from proteins and other compounds. Cats and dogs can utilise and benefit from carbohydrates in their diet. Both animals are able to digest starch, and recent research reveals that the early ancestors of modern dogs underwent genetic changes which allowed them to thrive on a higher starch diet. An exception is milk sugar, lactose, which is not adequately digested in adulthood by a majority of dogs and cats and can cause gastrointestinal upset. Starch also has important technological properties for dry kibble manufacturing, since its gelatinisation is a crucial part of the extrusion process.

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