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Keto Diets and Dogs, The Truth of the Matter

There is always the latest fad on dog’s health and remedies on the Internet. Some of these are marketing heavily and most often contain miraculous cures and ease in fixing skin conditions, allergies, gastric issues, cancer and more. All these fantastical ideas fall to the wayside sooner or later, and interestingly enough, some have been recycled years later! Ah well, people trying to make a buck just continually keep trying!

I would like to discuss Keto diets and dogs. As always, a current fad for humans and eventually these fads make their way to the dog world, AND products start occurring.

What is ketosis? It is described here: “Ketosis is a physiologic state in which metabolism of carbohydrates is reduced and metabolism of fatty acids is increased, producing elevated levels of ketones, such as acetoacetate and β-hydroxybutyrate (βOHB). Ketogenic diets induce a state of ketosis, and they are typically high in fat, low in carbohydrates, and calorie restricted. Ketosis is readily induced in humans by high-fat diets and even short periods of calorie restriction.”

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So, in simple terms, it is a diet that is highest in fats, low in carbs and low in proteins. In human studies, it has been found somewhat useful in slowly down seizures in adolescents. There is some speculation it helps slow down cancer cell growth. That is true only in specific cancers. One might be lymphosarcoma or lymphoma, but only with limited results, and it has not shown to be effective in other types of cancers.

No research has shown such a diet slows seizures in dogs, or slows down cancer cell growth, disappointingly.

Further, dogs are carnivores. Ketosis doesn’t work the same in carnivores as omnivores. Carnivores are already designed to eat low carb diets (short and simply digestive tract) and no grinding teeth for plant materials and not much ability to ferment food in the intestines.

Studies and research using ketosis has not shown much effectiveness in dogs with seizures: “The evidence base is, as always, far more limited in veterinary patients. There are no published clinical studies evaluating therapeutic ketogenic diets in cats. There are a couple of studies evaluating diets high in MCTs in dogs. One study in dogs with epilepsy found the test diet did induce higher levels of βOHB than the control diet; however, there was no difference in seizure frequency between the groups.4In both the test and control groups, 30 percent of the dogs showed a >/= 50 percent decrease in seizure frequency, which is consistent with the results of other studies for dogs receiving placebo.4,19

In another study, there was a statistically significant difference in the seizure frequency between dogs eating an MCT-rich diet compared with a control diet, though the mean difference was 0.36 seizures per month, which may not be clinically meaningful. Other measures of seizure frequency also differed between the diets, but the effect seemed inconsistent among individuals. While three of 21 dogs had complete cessation of seizures and seven of 21 had a >/= 50 percent reduction in seizure frequency, six of 21 actually had an increase in seizures on the test diet.5”

Also disappointing was experiments in cognitive function in dogs on keto diets:

One study has reported improvements in cognitive function testing for aged lab beagles on a ketogenic diet, but there are no studies evaluating impact on function or quality of life in dogs with naturally occurring cognitive dysfunction.20There also are no published clinical trials evaluating ketogenic diets as treatments for cancer in dogs.”


And for dogs, the real risk of a TRUE keto is that for dogs, or carnivores, it would be TOO high in fat and too low in protein for good health. “There isn’t enough clinical research and data to show if ketogenic diets could benefit our pet patients,” says Dr. Au. “In general, I think the human keto diet is too low in protein for dogs and is too high in fat for some.”


In a true keto diet, the break down is 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbohydrates. Truly, this would be a protein starvation diet for any dog, long term. And the high fat would throw most dogs into pancreatitis.

I have examined every dog food diet I could find, and NONE of them came even close to these percentages of fat, protein and carbs. Again, I am disappointed that research shows this diet has no benefits for dogs, but even more dismayed that companies offer “Keto Diets” for dogs, and they aren’t keto at all.

At this point, I will place keto diets, with coconut oil and other heavily marketed, but misleading, products for dogs. It is interesting to note, I found one ‘keto diet’ that had about the same ratio as dehydrated raw food. Neither are bad diets and superior to most dry dog foods, but still so expensive. A raw diet is cheaper than these processed diets.

Research shows there is no benefit of keto diets for dogs. In fact, if fed the correct percentages (75% Fat, 20% protein and 5% carbs) it could kill dogs. Best diet for dogs, in my opinion is raw or at least fresh food, not processed. Second choice, a low glycemic home cooked diet. If you do decide to go with a ‘keto diet’ whatever the reality, do add fresh food to the diet. When diets are processed, dehydrated or more, they lose taurine and no doubt destroy omega 3 fatty acids. Add these, along with probiotics and the Berte’s Immune Blend. The fresh food will provide taurine, the fish oil capsules will have the omega 3 fatty acids and the Berte’s Immune Blend will provide probiotics, D3 and other vitamins and some digestive enzymes.

So, no fear, the so called ‘keto diets’ for dogs are not keto at all. So at least know they won’t harm your dog. But it would be nice if companies used honesty in advertising.