Ketogenic Diet & Dogs

The Ketogenic diet for dogs is the “new” kid on the block. Everyone’s talking about it for human health too … but do you know all the ins and outs of why?

There’s a large focus on its impact on disease management and prevention … especially related to cancer.

Knowledge, use, and products supporting this type of diet are dramatically increasing. A simple internet search gives nearly 60 million results … and about 450,000 research articles.

Although mainstream today, ketogenic diets are not really new. They were once prescribed by ancient Greek physicians. They were also popular as an epilepsy treatment in the 1920s and ‘30s … but then new anti-seizure drugs replaced them.

After national media exposure in 1994, keto had a revival … and was even featured in the movie First Do No Harm, starring Meryl Streep.


It’s simple: giving anything (even cars!) improper fuel will lead to a lack of prosperity, health, and longevity.

The detrimental effects of not listening to our own experience is clear: with rising rates of dog cancer, obesity, and diabetes, the correlation between species-appropriate nutrition (or lack thereof) and overall health has become even more apparent.

In light of this, many pet parents have started asking themselves: what is the best possible food that I can feed my dog so that they can have the best chance of living a long, healthy life?

In this article, we’ll be discussing feeding dogs optimally through a Ketogenic diet. If you’re wondering, “why raw food?”

“Ketogenic diets are powerful metabolic tools that help your body switch from burning sugar (carbs) to burning fat. The result of that switch in fuel is an improvement in all sorts of health conditions.” – Ellen Davis

Put simply, in a maintenance or nutritional Ketogenic diet, dogs eat a 1:1 ratio of healthy fats: high-quality protein.

Since dogs are carnivores and 99.9% genetically identical to wolves, eating a raw diet of meat, organs, and bones is the most species-appropriate meal for dogs.

When in Ketosis, dogs produce energy from fat-derived ketone bodies instead of glucose from sugar and carbs (as found in kibble). Nutritional Ketosis is possible for dogs when they have a moderately-high ketone production (0.2-8 mM) and moderately-low glucose production (<75 mg/dL).

When in Ketosis (fat-burning) instead of Glycolysis (glucose-converting), dogs are able to thrive instead of merely survive off of biologically-inappropriate carbs and sugars.

What Are The Benefits Of A Ketogenic Diet?

Dogs have NO biological need for carbs.

When dogs eat kibble or food high in carbs, their bodies are metabolically working overtime to compensate for being fed species-inappropriate food.

This stress can lead to increased risk for diseases like diabetes, cancer, and obesity.

On the other hand, when dogs’ nutritional needs ARE being met (and being met optimally), they have a reduced risk of developing metabolic stress and systemic inflammation, two things which are linked to diseases.

The point being: when dogs eat real, fresh food that closely mimics how they would eat in nature, they are put in the best possible position to live longer and healthier lives.

Ketogenic Diets And Cancer

Excitingly, a Ketogenic diet has been used as a therapy to reverse certain diseases like cancer and other mitochondrial maladies in humans.

For this reason, a Ketogenic diet may not only be optimal for helping dogs live healthier, it may also help dogs suffering from various illnesses get back to basics with essential nutrients. Based on research done by holistic veterinarians, dogs can live optimally and thrive eating a Ketogenic Raw Food Diet…in the way that Mother Nature intended.

What Other Benefits Are There?

A ketogenic diet for dogs may have other benefits. In a recent study of 21 epileptic dogs on a keto diet, seven had a 50% reduction in seizure frequency … and three of them became seizure-free.

Several other health benefits can make this diet attractive, even for a healthy dog:

  • Reduced inflammation
  • Improved fat burning and weight loss
  • Blood sugar balancing, especially for diabetic animals
  • Improves insulin sensitivity
  • Suppresses hunger hormone ghrelin
  • Fewer cravings
  • Increased and longer-lasting energy
  • Improve liver health
  • Anti-aging
  • Less risk of chronic diseases
  • Help with epilepsy and neurodegenerative disorders
  • Mitochondrial biogenesis (meaning increased production of mitochondria)

Because there is efficient and cleaner production of energy from ketones than glucose. … with fewer free radicals.

Side Effects Of A Ketogenic Diet

Before you rush out and put your dog on a ketogenic diet, read about some of the side effects it can cause:

  • Keto flu: flu-like symptoms and lethargy for a few days. Due to body switching from using carbs to fat (especially if switching to it from high carb diet)
  • Possible decrease of microbial diversity in the GI tract
  • Pancreatitis (though KetoPet says this is rare for a low-carb diet … because carbs are usually the culprit)
  • Deficiencies due to an imbalanced keto diet
  • More time-consuming (you have to weigh everything, including treats)
  • Carbohydrate intolerance (in humans)

Is Your Dog On A Ketogenic Diet Already?

So, getting back to the original question I posed … is your dog already eating a ketogenic diet?

In the wild, predatory animals will only consume 3% to 5% carbohydrates.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica says: “The body of a healthy lean man is composed of roughly 62 percent water, 16 percent protein, 6 percent minerals, and less than 1 percent carbohydrate.”

Let’s assume that these numbers come close to what a wild dog would eat when he catches a rabbit.

To make my point, we need to dive into a little bit of calculating. But don’t worry, there’s a benefit: your brain will get its daily exercise!

The numbers I quoted are based on weight. Because ketogenic diet measurements are based on calories … we need to do some converting.

Generally, a ketogenic diet for humans contains 70% to 80% of calories from fat, 20 to 25% from protein and 5 to 10% from carbs.

For dogs, the recommended numbers are a bit different … as you’ll see in the table below.

Ketogenic Diet By Numbers:

  • Since water doesn’t contain any calories … we adjust the weight percentages to get the numbers in the second column below.
  • Next, we convert the weight of fat and protein to calories. Then we compare them with the ketogenic ratios.
  • This calculation uses the number of calories per gram of protein (4 kcal), carbs (4 kcal) and fat (9 kcal).

Okay … I did the calculating for you, but I hope you followed my train of thought.

As you’ll see, the body composition of a prey animal in calories (column 3) is very close to a ketogenic diet (columns 4 and 5).


Feeling inspired to learn more about raw feeding or Keto? Take action! Together, we put pressure on the pet food industry to become better and prioritize the well-being of dogs over money and convenience.

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