The Balanced Calorie Diet

The best weight loss diet for dogs is not a low-fat diet

A 2022 Study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention reported that 59% of dogs in this country are either overweight or obese.
They list the following statement and conditions that can result from allowing your dog to be overweight:

Studies show that excess unhealthy adipose tissue can cause debilitating conditions and disease and reduce a pet’s life expectancy by an average of two years.

  • Osteoarthritis or other orthopedic diseases

  • Luxating patella (knee dislocation) due to cartilage damage

  • Type 2 diabetes (metabolic and endocrine disorders)

  • Respiratory and Heart disease

  • High blood pressure

  • Kidney disease

  • Chronic inflammation

  • Many forms of cancer – especially intra-abdominal cancers

  • Overweight and obese dogs are expected to live shorter lives than their healthy-weight counterparts. (1)

Only 19% of the dog owners reported that a low-fat pet food was effective in losing weight, and even less (11%) reported that a prescription low fat diet helped.

These results are consistent with what we observed over a fifteen year period running a dog food store. 

Why are Low-Fat Weight Loss Dog Foods So Ineffective?

  • They are based on the flawed premise that weight loss is as simple relationship of putting fewer calories in the dog than the dog burns in normal behavior. If the dog only eats 800 calories a day and burns 1,000 calories a day it will lose weight.
  • Usually referred to as "Calories in - Calories out" it is inherently flawed because it treats ALL calories as equal. A protein calorie is equal to a carbohydrate calorie or a fat calorie. It may make sense mathematically but it does not work in reality.
We have been using the BALANCED CALORIE DIET successfully with thousands of dogs that have come through our dog food store over fifteen years and it proved to be healthier, less stressful, and far more effective than all the low fat diet foods we carried in the store, and we carried the best.

Dogs love it because it had equal calories of meat and fat and they felt satisfied and nourished on it. They lost weight naturally and painlessly because it was not packed with high-glycemic carbohydrates that triggered insulin and directed the body to store the excess sugar as fat.


Low-fat dog foods are NOT the best way to lose weight because they are based on starving the dog to force it to lose weight. Anyone who has been on a starvation low-fat diet knows how long and hard the days are longing for something to eat that satisfies for hours rather than carbohydrates that cause a blood sugar spike, then crash, and an almost constant longing for food.

The low-fat weight loss theory is based on the absolutely erroneous theory that with weight loss all calories is a calorie that a calorie is a calorie and it does not matter whether it is from meat, fat , or carbohydrates.

The ABC Diet was custom designed for Brothers Dog Food 15 years ago by an Animal Nutritionist with a Ph.D. in gut biology and over 35 years experience in the dog food industry. It includes PREbiotics, PRObiotics, POSTbiotics, Digestive Enzymes, Whole Cell Algae Dried (a clean source of Omega 3 DHA), L-Carnitine, seven Symbiotic nutrient pairs that have a synergistic relationship and need to be balanced precisely to each other (ie. Ca/P, Na/K, Ca/K, Zn/Cu, Na/Mg, Ca/Mg, Fe/Cu) low glycemic carbs, with additional positive traits that include high resistant starch (Tapioca) and insoluble fiber (Peas) [3]. The ABC Diet takes advantage of a dogs enhanced ability for Gluconeogenesis to help it achieve, and maintain, its optimum weight naturally and painlessly.

The reason low fat diets work with people, but not very well with dogs, has to do with the the fact that dogs have a built in ability to convert dietary fat to glucose for energy efficiently.

People (Omnivores) convert Carbohydrates to Glucose. Dogs are designed to convert fat to Glucose, and that difference changes everything.    

For tens of thousands of years, as carnivores, a dogs diet consisted almost entirely of meat and fat, and Mother Nature designed them to get their energy from Protein and Fat. In fact dogs have no need for carbohydrates, whatsoever, and can exist and thrive without them. As a result they have a reduced ability to make the enzyme Amylase, that is needed to break carbs down. The process of converting non-carbohydrates (FAT in this case) into Glucose for energy is called Gluconeogenesis and is an ability dogs have that makes them more efficient at metabolizing fat than people are, and one of the reasons dogs do better on the ABC Diet than the low fat diet.

Over the last few hundred years dogs have adapted and developed an increased ability to metabolize carbohydrates, but at a cost. It is not what they were originally designed to eat and it turns out the amount of carbs in dog food these days is causing a lot of problems for them.

Recent statistics show that over 60% of dogs in this country are overweight or obese. Dog food that contains 50% to 75% carbohydrates causes a spike in blood glucose which  triggers the Pancreas to produce insulin. Insulin directs the body to remove the excess blood sugar and store it as fat in muscle tissue.



On the other hand, fat and protein do NOT cause a spike in blood glucose levels so the body has no need to produce insulin. A dog is designed to turn protein and fat into energy (through gluconeogenesis), which they do very well.


Dogs come from a long line of carnivores but they are being labeled omnivores by dog food companies and others because the have developed a slightly increased ability to produce Amylase and can metabolize more carbohydrates than their wolf ancestors.


This is a minor adaptation in its early stages and they have adapted to living with humans by developing an increased ability to produce more Amylase (the enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates) but that does not change the overall biological and metabolic pathways of a carnivore enough to adapt to an increase of carbohydrates in the diet from 2% to as much as 75%. 

Most dog foods contain as much as 50% to 75% carbohydrates (many of which are high-glycemic carbs) which cause an increased strain on the Pancreas to produce the enzyme Amylase to break them down, then more demand on the pancreas to produce the enzyme insulin to control the spike in blood sugar they cause. This is proving to have a negative impact on the dogs system.

One such harmful effect of excess high-glycemic carbs on the system that is fairly common already is Leaky Gut. [2] [4]

See the Blog Post: Leaky Gut Syndrome   https://brothersdogfood.com/blogs/blog/leaky-gut-in-dogs)

Leaky Gut is the result of Dysbiosis (the overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the gut) caused primarily by a high carb diet and the overuse of antibiotics among a few other things. Leaky Gut creates a wide range of problems, including allergies, as fecal matter and partially digested proteins leak through the gut wall into the blood stream. Once Leaky Gut develops the Candida Albicans Fungus leaks into the blood stream and becomes Systemic Candida. In fact Systemic Candida is usually an indicator that a Leaky Gut condition exists. See the Blog Post:

Dog Allergies & Food Intolerance https://brothersdogfood.com/blogs/blog/allergies-food-intolerance-caused-by-leaky-gut

Low fat, diet dog food makes it more difficult to lose weight than with A Balanced Calorie Diet (ABC Diet), because when fat is reduced, more carbohydrates are added to replace them and they are often high glycemic carbs which, combined with the other carbs, cause blood sugar levels to rise which triggers the pancreas to produce insulin. Insulin directs the body to remove the excess Glucose and store it as fat - the exact opposite of what you want to have happen.

The dramatic increase in Pancreatitis in dogs is alarming, and the medical professionals do not know what causes it. When you change a dogs diet from 2% carbs to 50% to 75% carbohydrates, when it was designed to eat  a diet that is predominantly meat and fat, I would think it logical to look at the one thing that has changed - which is their diet. The pancreas rarely had to produce the enzyme Amylase, which breaks down carbohydrates, in the past when its diet was 98% meat and fat and only 2% carbohydrates.

Dogs have never had a dietary need for carbohydrates and still do not. Now with a diet of 50% to 75% carbs the pancreas is working overtime trying to produce enough Amylase to  keep up with the amount of carbs that are flooding into the system. On top of that the pancreas has to generate insulin to keep reacting to the blood sugar spikes brought on by the excess carbs, and the body eventually builds resistance to Insulin which pushes it closer to the possibility of diabetes developing.

All this puts an inordinate strain on a pancreas that has a predetermined limit to the amount of enzymes it can make over its lifetime. This is one of the important reasons digestive enzymes are added to our weight loss Diet. A dogs body slowly loses its ability to make digestive enzymes as it ages. 



The low fat diet dog foods refer to calories as though they all have the same value. They focus on the number rather than the quality. Surely there is a big difference between 500 calories of quality meat and fat versus 500 calories of grain or potato, especially in the way a dogs body reacts to them. When there is a balanced supply of protein, fat and carbohydrates the dog experiences fully satisfying nutrition and a feeling of satiation, of feeling full, that fat provides; something low fat, high carb foods do not.

Research shows that dogs on higher fat and lower carbs diets, like the BALANCED CALORIE DIET, have more energy and lower steady blood glucose levels than they do on high carb low-fat diets. [1] This increases the dogs inclination to exercise due to feeling completely nourished by the healthy levels of protein and fat; and the benefits of exercise for weight loss and overall health are well known. [6]

The animal protein and fat in the BALANCED CALORIE DIET does not trigger the pancreas to secrete insulin at all - not one bit, so the protein and fat is converted to glucose in an even, satisfying way and the dog does not experience hunger pangs from an insulin induced sugar crash, as they do on a low fat, high carb diet. [1]

The amount of carbohydrates in the BALANCED CALORIE DIET are much less than in a low-fat diet food, and they are low glycemic carbs, with soluble and insoluble fiber, and resistant starch, a percentage of which is not absorbed into the blood stream and continues into the colon where is feeds the beneficial bacteria that is essential to maintain a healthy system. These have begun to be referred to as POSTbiotics which join the already familiar PREbiotics and PRObiotics as crucial in maintaining the healthy functioning of the entire digestive system which includes as many as 90 trillion bacteria.

An added benefit of the BALANCED CALORIE DIET, once the dog has achieved its optimum weight, is it can easily be maintained going forward because the BALANCED CALORIE DIET is an extremely healthy, completely balanced nutritious food that meets the AAFCO specifications for feeding for all life stages. You need only adjust the amount you feed as the age and activity levels change from season to season and year to year.

Finally, the diet results in smaller, firmer stools which are the sign of a healthy, balanced, appropriate diet.

A simple method to judge your dogs ideal weight is to put your hands of both sides of your dogs rib cage, you should be able to feel the ribs but, standing about six feet away, not be able to see them.

Written  March 7, 2023
Updated and renamed June27, 2023
by Richard Darlington, CEO
Brothers Dog Food, LLC


PREbiotics - Necessary food to nourish the beneficial gut bacteria. Ideally it is a long chain prebiotic (like those used in the ABC Diet) so it feeds the good bacteria and not the Candida Albicans and other potentially harmful bacteria., that the short chain prebiotics do.

PRObiotics - The beneficial bacteria in the gut that performs numerous essential functions without which the organism would not survive. A healthy colony can be as much as 100 trillion bacteria in the gut. Ten times more than the number of cells in the body.

POSTbiotics - Fairly recent term to describe the beneficial effect that certain carbohydrates with insoluble fiber, like peas, and highly resistant starch like Tapioca have on the system when they arrive in the colon undigested where they ferment and feed the beneficial bacteria there. The bacteria extract the available nutrients and return excess moisture to the system which results in a firm stool.

Gluconeogenesis - A trait most predominant in carnivores who are designed to eat predominantly meat and fat, by which they convert fat into glucose for the body to use as energy. Omnivores, like people, usually convert carbohydrates into glucose.

Digestive Enzymes - Enzymes used to break down the protein, fat, and carbohydrates in food to where the body can absorb them. They supplement the digestive enzymes made by the dogs pancreas which basically has a limited lifetime capacity that will eventually be depleted.

Leaky Gut - A condition where the cells that line the inside of the small intestine (Enterocytes) become damaged and allow fecal matter, including the yeast/fungus Candida Albicans to get through the damaged joints into the blood stream.

Systemic Candida - The result of the yeast/fungus Candida albicans leaking out of the gut into the blood stream where, fed by the carbohydrates in Most dog foods is grows and causes a wide variety of skin problems, itching, and misery for the dog.

Insoluble Fiber - The ability of some carbohydrates to survive the digestion process and get to the colon where they ferment and provided energy for the beneficial bacteria there.

Soluble Fiber - fiber that binds to the bile and fatty acids the liver is getting rid of and carries them into the colon. At that point where it is which prevents the body from re-absorbing it

Highly Resistant Starch - The ability of some starch to resist digestion and get to the colon where it feeds the beneficial bacteria and supports essential biologic functions.

High & Low Glycemic - The speed at which a carbohydrate is turned into Glucose. The high glycemic carbs cause the blood sugar levels to spike which then requires the pancreas to secrete insulin to remove the excess blood sugar and store it as fat. Low glycemic carbs do not spike the blood sugar levels and do not cause the pancreas to release insulin into the system.

The ABC Diet - A diet where the calories of Protein, Fat, and Carbs are evenly balanced between each other and additional supplements are added to create a highly nutritious, healthy way for a dog to lose weight naturally and attain its optimal weight, then maintain it.