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I am not a veterinarian or an animal nutritionist.  Please do not use this blog post to diagnose or treat your dog. This blog is for informational purposes only. If you have a health concern or question about your dog please seek the advice of a licensed veterinarian.

Raw Feeder to Raw Feeder: Keto Diet for Dogs

I've been hearing about the keto diet for dogs for about a year and I've been fascinated, but also confused.  At first, I thought we just had to add butter or another fat to our dogs' raw meals.  I didn't understand the ratios or ingredients.  And I couldn't figure out how to test my dogs.

After speaking with a fellow pet parent who has successfully put her dog into ketosis and currently maintains that diet to ward off cancer, I have a better understanding of a keto diet and feel more comfortable getting started with my dogs.

What is a Keto Diet for Dogs?

Ketosis is a normal metabolic process. When a body doesn't have enough carbohydrates from food to burn for energy, the body will burn fat instead, making ketones.

The idea of a keto diet for dogs, as I understand it, is to better replicate an ancestral diet which not only includes proteins (the 80/10/5/5 we're always talking about), but it also includes periods of fasting that place an animal into ketosis naturally.

A keto diet is made up of high fat, moderate protein, and low carbs.

Benefits of a Keto Diet for Dogs

Pet parents are putting their dogs on a keto diet to help with seizures, diabetes, obesity, and the keto diet is fed to prevent (or starve) cancer.

Because cancer cells look to sugar for a source of fuel, a keto diet effectively starves cancer cells.  We feed moderate protein to remove the secondary food source, an amino acid in protein, glutamine, from the cancer cells' menu.

Misconceptions of the Keto Diet for Dogs

When everyone began talking about the keto diet and that it could potentially prevent cancer in our dogs, I was gung-ho to get started, but I wasn't' sure how to get started.  Here are a few misconceptions that were cleared up recently…

A raw diet doesn't become a keto diet simply by adding more fat.  If we add fat to the diet without decreasing protein and carbs, then our dogs will gain weight and we'll be feeding any existing cancer cells.

There are different levels of a keto diet for pets; the ratios (discussed below) range from dogs that have been diagnosed with cancer or another serious health issue to more of a maintenance level.

It's not enough to add fat to a dog's diet; we also need to test to make sure that our dogs are actually in ketosis and gain a better understanding of our dogs' cycles.

Fats Recommended for the Keto Diet for Dogs

  • Pasture-raised butter (Kerrygold)
  • Pasture-raised heavy whipping cream
  • Ghee
  • Kefir
  • Raw goat's milk
  • Organic coconut oil
  • MCT oil
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil

Carbs Recommended for a Keto Diet for Dogs

While there are many carbs that can be added to a keto diet for dogs, the more I research the diet, the more common the following carbs make the best sense for my dogs.

  • Green beans
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Collard greens

How to Get Started on a Keto Diet for Dogs

It's important to understand the ratios of a ketogenic diet:

  • 4:1 is four parts fat to one part protein+carbs
  • 3:1 is three parts fat to one part protein+carbs
  • 2:1 is two parts fat to one part protein+carbs
  • 1:1 is one part fat to one part protein+carbs
  • 0.5:1 is 1/2 part fat to one part protein+carbs

As I understand it, the 4:1 ratio is for a dog diagnosed with cancer or another serious illness that a keto diet may help alleviate.  A 1/2:1 ratio is more of a maintenance level; you've got the dog's health conditions under control and now you are taking the dog in and out of keto for short periods of time.

Below is a graphic created by the folks over at Answers Pet Food to give you an idea of how you can use their food to put your dog into ketosis.  At first, I thought this graphic was saying that we fed high protein because the Answers Beef or Pork had higher percentages at the top.  However, the beef and pork recipes also have fat.  What's even cooler is that if you feed the Detailed recipes, which contain fermented vegetables as well, along with a fat source, you can easily put your dog on a low-level (1/2:1 or 1:1) keto diet.

I plan to start my dogs at a 1:1 ratio to be conservative because my dogs don't have any serious health issues and after four months, I'll give them a break for a couple of months and then put them back on at 1:1 or 1/2:1 as a maintenance level.  However, all the while, I'll continue educating myself.

Keto Diet Recipes for Dogs

The KetoPet Sanctuary has a calculator that will help you plan out your dog's diet. The questions are:

  • What is your dog's weight?
  • What is your dog's body condition score? Too Thin, Ideal, or Too Heavy?
  • What is your dog's activity level? Sedentary, Average, Active?

You then choose an option (1, 2, or 3) based on their criteria. I chose Option 1 for my dogs. You're then taken to a page to choose either a commercial keto diet for dogs (easy) or a DIY plan; I chose DIY.

  • Now, you choose your fats: Coconut Oil, Butter, or Heavy Cream
  • You choose your protein: 80/20 Ground Beef, 97/3 Ground Chicken, or 93/7 Ground Turkey
  • You choose your carb: Broccoli, Red Cabbage, or Green Beans

Please don't use the below recipes to put your dog into ketosis; these are specific for my dogs. Instead, please visit KetoPet Sanctuary to use their free Keto Diet Calculator.

Sydney's Keto Recipe

And then you get your meal plan. The following recipe is for Sydney. She's 75 pounds, a bit overweight, and sedentary. She isn't a fan of coconut oil, so I chose grass-fed butter. I also chose ground turkey and green beans, two foods she loves.

  • 97/3 ground turkey – 444.1 grams
  • Butter – 70.2 grams*
  • Green beans – 80.4 grams
  • Minerals – Animal Essentials Seaweed Calcium
  • Chia Seeds – 1 tbsp per 40 lbs.

*If I had chosen the ground beef for Sydney, I wouldn't need to add butter, because the fat would have been in the beef. I can also choose a leaner beef for her.

Rodrigo's Keto Recipe

Rodrigo is sensitive to beef, chicken, and turkey. Oh my! Proteins he can eat are rabbit, duck, and emu. Using the KetoPet calculator, I'd swap one of the poultries for the emu or rabbit and adjust the fat, if necessary, because both of those proteins are lean.

  • Emu or rabbit – 472.5 grams
  • Butter – 74.6 grams
  • Green beans – 85.5 grams
  • Minerals – Animal Essentials Seaweed Calcium
  • Chia Seeds – 1 tbsp per 40 lbs.

Scout's Keto Recipe

Scout is sensitive to chicken .

  • 97/3 ground turkey – 562.5 grams
  • Butter – 88.9 grams
  • Green beans – 101.8 grams
  • Minerals – Animal Essentials Seaweed Calcium
  • Chia Seeds – 1 tbsp per 40 lbs.

Zoey's Keto Recipe

  • 97/3 ground turkey – 384.9 grams
  • Butter – 60.8 grams
  • Green beans – 69.6 grams
  • Minerals – Animal Essentials Seaweed Calcium
  • Chia Seeds – 1 tbsp per 40 lbs.

Tools Needed for a Keto Diet for Dogs

Blood Glucose Levels for Healthy Dogs

Doing my research, it wasn't easy to find information on successfully putting dogs into ketosis, however, I did find the blood glucose levels for healthy dogs, which range between…

  • 70-140mg/dL – source: 2ndchance.info
  • 80-120mg/dL – source: VCAHospitals.com
  • 70-138mg/dL – source: Antech Diagnostics via Laurie Coger, DVM
Fasting Glucose Levels for Dogs by Rodney Habib
Source: Rodney Habib

The goal of a keto diet is:

  • Blood glucose: 50-90
  • Ketones: 0.3-1.4

Resources to Learn More About a Keto Diet for Dogs

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