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Why do animals need carbohydrates? What are some sources of
carbohydrates? For dogs and cats being carnivores, carbohydrates are not
essential nutrients in their diet. However, they are used as a cheap source of
energy and also to help make the pet food more palatable. If they are
overfed carbohydrates they will be converted to fat and stored!
Sources of carbohydrates used in pet foods include:
sugars: glucose, lactose, sucrose, maltose
foods: pasta, potato starch, rice and rice flour, wheat and gluten, corn
and corn flour, peanut hulls, beet pulp.
There are two types of carbohydrate:
Soluble sugars – digestible fibre
Insoluble sugars – indigestible fibre.
Soluble sugars
The main function of soluble sugars are to give energy. Soluable sugars are
made up of the simple sugars (monosaccharides)—glucose, disaccharides,
sucrose, lactose, maltose. Soluble sugars are also made of more complex
sugars (polysaccharides), starch. They are often used to make food more
palatable but if there is too much of it, the animal can become obese.
Insoluble sugars
These sugars are indigestible and give the animal a ‘fuller’ feeling without
supplying any nutritional value. Insoluble sugars are not recommended for
animals with high energy needs (working, lactating, growing) but are
sometimes used in diets for weight control.
The bulk of faeces consists of this indigestible portion. The body only gets
rid of what it cannot digest and absorb. In other words, the more insoluble
fibre in a diet, the more poo to clean up. Plant matter contains large amounts
of these indigestible carbohydrates.
© NSW DET 2007