Low Carb Dog Food: Top 10 Picks with High Protein Formulas

Mike PowellEdited by: Mike Powell
Abby TexasReviewed by: Abby Texas

Last Update:

Low-carb dog food is a new idea, but it can really work well for some dogs. 

Dogs are omnivores, which means they need a combination of meat, carbohydrates, and fats to be getting optimal nutrition. 

Many dog foods out there avoid low-quality fillers but double up on carbs, so your pup still isn’t getting the best. 

We’ll be reviewing the best low-carb but high-protein dog food formulas. 

Product Name
Best For Dogs with Allergies
Rank
Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
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ORIJEN Dry Dog Food, Six Fish, Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free
ACANA Singles Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Duck & Pear, Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free
Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete Real Meat Recipe High Protein Dry Dog Food With Real Cage Free Chicken Protein 40Lb
Rating
Our Rating 92 / 100
Our Rating 91 / 100
Our Rating 91 / 100
Pro 1
Low carb content (28%)
Low-carb and healthy
Very high fat count to give your dog energy
Pro 2
Contains supplements for adults, seniors, and puppies
High protein and fat in all formulas
Fairly low in carbs (29%)
Best Overall
Rank
Ranked #1
Thumbnail
ORIJEN Dry Dog Food, Six Fish, Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free
Rating
Our Rating 92 / 100
Pro 1
Low carb content (28%)
Pro 2
Contains supplements for adults, seniors, and puppies
Best For Dogs with Allergies
Rank
Ranked #2
Thumbnail
ACANA Singles Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Duck & Pear, Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free
Rating
Our Rating 91 / 100
Pro 1
Low-carb and healthy
Pro 2
High protein and fat in all formulas
Best Budget Option
Rank
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete Real Meat Recipe High Protein Dry Dog Food With Real Cage Free Chicken Protein 40Lb
Rating
Our Rating 91 / 100
Pro 1
Very high fat count to give your dog energy
Pro 2
Fairly low in carbs (29%)
Sources researched
18
Sources researched
Customer reviews
16,879
Customer reviews
Hours spent testing
15
Hours spent testing
Products tested
10
Products tested

Low Carb Dog Food With High-Protein Formulas

Orijen High-Protein Dry Dog Food

Premium Option

Overall Rating92%
Protein Count95%
Carb Count & Sources92%
Fat Count92%
Added Supplements95%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Low carb content (28%) 
  • Great protein count for active dogs 
  • Contains supplements for adults, seniors, and puppies 
  • Available in 3 flavours, making it easier to avoid problem foods

CONS

  • Pricey option 
  • May not be great for dogs who can’t tolerate legumes 

This is our first choice for a low-carb, high-protein, well-rounded dog food.

It’s got a nice protein number (38%), an even better carb number (around 28%), and is packed with some really awesome quality ingredients.

This kibble would work well for active dogs who can get the best use out of all that protein! It’s also suitable for still-bouncy seniors and puppies. 

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Superior Quality Ingredients 

There are 3 flavours in this range, but each one contains a variety of premium protein sources. The beauty of this range is that it’s easy to avoid a particular protein if your dog has a bad reaction to it. Choose from Fish, Chicken, or Red Meat so your pup can have exactly what works for them. 

The carb list is impressive, including things like lentils, beans, and chickpeas. The only problem that MAY pop up is for dogs who can’t eat legumes. These pooches will need to pick another food on this list! 

Suitable For Adults, Puppies, & Seniors 

The supplements included in these pellets make it great for dogs of all ages. It’s extremely nutrient-dense, so your dog will be getting all the good stuff to help them grow (for puppies), give them energy for their day (for adults),and keep them in their active lifestyle (for seniors). 

You’ll see glucosamine and chondroitin on the list, which are great for small and large breeds alike. In conjunction with the calcium/phosphorus ratio, this will help puppies to grow up touch and strong. It will also help maintain strong joints as your pooch gets older. 

DHA and EPA are amazing supplements to help puppies’ brains and eyes develop properly. It’s good to feed your senior too, to keep their brain ticking and their eyes sharp. 

Acana Singles Recipe Range

Best Low-Carb Limited Ingredient Food

Overall Rating91%
Protein Count95%
Carb Count & Sources90%
Fat Count90%
Added Supplements93%
Affordability90%

PROS

  • High protein and fat in all formulas 
  • Limited ingredient to reduce chances of allergies 
  • Various flavours available 
  • Low-carb and healthy

CONS

  • Can be a little pricey 

Dogs who need to be on a limited ingredient diet to reduce food allergies or intolerances will thrive on Acana. It’s made with only great ingredients, contains amazing supplements to promote health, and has a variety of flavours so your pup can avoid those problem ingredients.

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Contains Everything Your Dog Needs 

Whichever recipe you choose, your dog will get 31% protein and 17% fat, which is fantastic for a moderate to highly active pup. 

Every recipe contains DHA, EPA, and glucosamine, making this the perfect choice for puppies, adults, and seniors alike. 

The Omega fatty acid levels differ slightly by flavour, but they’re high enough to make a difference to your dog’s skin and coat, particularly if they’re affected by their allergies. 

Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete Formula

Best Value For Money

Overall Rating91%
Protein Count95%
Carb Count & Sources90%
Fat Count93%
Added Supplements90%
Affordability92%

PROS

  • Very high fat count to give your dog energy 
  • Fairly low in carbs (29%) 
  • Great added supplements 
  • Most affordable high-quality food on the market

CONS

  • Contains grains (although they’re the good kind) 
  • Only one flavour, so may not be suitable for dogs sensitive to chicken

Pet parents who are looking for a premium quality, low-carb dog food that won’t cost an arm and leg, this one’s for you (and your pup!). 

It’s got a carb count of around 29%, which is 1 below the range of 30% to 70% that counts as low-carb. This kibble is also packed with fantastic quality fruits and vegetables that elevate the levels of vitamins and minerals in each bite. 

Dogs of all health states, ages, sizes, and lifestyles will benefit from chomping on this food. 

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Carbohydrate Content 

This dog food does contain grains, but they’re the good kind – ground white rice and pearled barley. Considering the carb count, they don’t raise it too much so there should be nothing for you to worry about. 

Other than that, it’s loaded with amazing quality veggies and fruits. Kale, chia seeds, kelp, and blueberries are some of the superfoods in this kibble and give it a really big dose of antioxidants. 

Great Added Supplements 

For a more affordable food, this kibble is missing nothing. 

You’ll find glucosamine and chondroitin for fortifying joints, L-carnitine which helps with energy regulation, great levels of Omega fatty acids, and added vitamins and minerals on the label. 

The only downside we can find is that it’s only available in one flavour. If your dog reacts badly to chicken, they may have to choose something else for their daily meal. 

Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Patties 

Best For Active Dogs

Overall Rating90%
Protein Count90%
Carb Count & Sources95%
Fat Count95%
Added Supplements85%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Packed with protein and fats 
  • Low-carb, but containing organic veggies 
  • Various flavours with a range of nutritional values 
  • Minimally processed to retain natural wholesomeness 

CONS

  • Raw food requires careful handling to ensure it stays healthy 
  • Not suitable for dogs who are not active enough to work off the fat content! 

A raw diet is probably the best way to ensure that your dog is eating a low-carb meal. 

This offering from Stella & Chewy’s would be a fantastic low-carb choice for dogs who are quite active. Inactive pups may not be able to use up the high fat content and end up suffering health conditions as a result. 

If your dog is a working dog, hunting dog, or just loves a good exercise, we’d highly recommend these dinner patties. If you’re keen to try raw but your pup is a couch potato, we suggest putting them on a workout program before feeding them these patties! 

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Flavours Contain Different Nutritional Values 

If your dog thrives on raw, this range will give them a lovely range of tastes and flavours. It’s also super easy to avoid problem ingredients. 

Choose from beef, chicken, venison, duck, rabbit, lamb, red meat, turkey, pork, and combination flavours like salmon & beef, venison & lamb, and two recipes specifically for puppies. 

Be aware that the nutritional values are different on each, so although they’re all high in protein and fat and low in carbs, you should check each one before buying for your pup. 

Handling Raw Food 

If you’re transitioning your pup over to raw, you’ll most likely start seeing some benefits very quickly. However, there can be a darker side to raw feeding that pet parents should be aware of in order to keep their beloved fluffs safe. 

Raw food becomes contaminated much easier than kibble. This is due to the fresh nature of the food, so it’s essential that you store it correctly, prepare it carefully and make sure it doesn’t come into contact with other foods. 

If your dog’s food smells stranger than usual, looks darker, lighter, or different to how it normally looks, rather be safe and don’t feed it to your pooch. 

American Journey Grain-Free Puppy Food 

Best Low-Carb Dog Food For Puppies

Check Price on Chewy.com
Overall Rating89%
Protein Count90%
Carb Count & Sources90%
Fat Count85%
Added Supplements90%
Affordability90%

PROS

  • Comes in a few different flavours, each with slightly different nutrients 
  • Contains all a puppy needs to grow up strong and healthy 
  • Lower calorie than some 
  • More affordable than many on the market 

CONS

  • Fat count may be slightly too low for bouncy puppies 

A puppy food has certain parameters it needs to hit to be the healthiest option, and this one hits them all.

The recipe range has a few different flavours, each low-carb, high-protein, and loaded with everything a puppy needs to grow up the strongest and healthiest they can.

It’s also one of the more affordable options out there, and doesn’t sacrifice quality. 

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Choose The Right Nutrients For Your Puppy 

There are a few different recipes in this puppy range, and each has slightly different nutritional values. Lamb & Sweet Potato and Chicken & Sweet Potato contain 30% protein and 12% fat each, with the necessary additions of DHA, EPA, and glucosamine. 

The Chicken & Brown Rice formula contains less protein, at 25%, but a higher fat count (15%), which might be more suitable for your puppy. There is also a large breed puppy option, Salmon & Sweet Potato, which is the most well-rounded of the lot with 32% protein and 4% fat.

Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipes

Best Raw Mix

Instinct Raw Boost Grain Free Recipe with Real Beef Natural Dry Dog Food by Nature's Variety, 4 lb. Bag
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Overall Rating89%
Protein Count90%
Carb Count & Sources90%
Fat Count95%
Added Supplements85%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Mix of kibble and freeze-dried raw pieces 
  • High in both protein and fat 
  • Has recipes for seniors, puppies, and healthy weight in addition to their normal range 
  • Contains superfood ingredients 

CONS

  • No joint supplements added 
  • Some non-chicken flavours contain chicken 
  • Somewhat expensive (not unusual for raw food) 

If you’re thinking of transitioning your dog over to a raw diet, this is the perfect in-between dog food to get them used to the taste and texture before going all in.

The varying recipes allow pups to avoid problem ingredients while getting a great fat count to keep them energetic and a high dose of protein to maintain their muscles.

The only thing we can fault them for is the lack of glucosamine in their food, but this can be fixed by simply buying a separate supplement. 

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Various Nutritional Values 

Choose from one of these recipes based on your dog’s tastes and what nutritional values work for them. 

Chicken contains 37% protein and 20,5% fat. Beef is similar, with 36% protein and 21% fat. The duck flavour has 34,5% and 21% respectively, while venison tops the fat counts with 24% (and 35% protein). Salmon brings the highest protein count (37,5%) and a great fat level of 21,5%.

Canidae Pure Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Wet Dog Food 

Best Wet/Canned Food

Overall Rating88.75%
Carb Count & Sources90%
Fat Count90%
Protein Count90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • High in moisture, low in carbohydrates 
  • Limited ingredient, 7 or fewer 
  • No wheat, soy, or carrageenan 
  • Probiotics added after cooking to preserve their potency

CONS

  • Slightly more pricey than some other wet foods 

It’s always a good idea to have a stash of canned dog food in the cupboard. Some dogs might be fussy eaters and prefer a wet component mixed with their crunchy kibble. Others may need to move to a wet food diet for a period of time due to mouth injuries or surgery on teeth.

Whatever the reason your dog may need a canned food, this is our choice. 

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Added Moisture 

One of the best things about wet food is that it adds a really nice extra bit of moisture to your dog’s diet. Sometimes our pups forget to drink an adequate amount of water during the day or dehydrate due to the heat. 

Adding a wet food to their kibble helps bring back some moisture, which has so many health benefits. 

Be aware though, that overfeeding with canned food can lead to some nasty digestive problems, so be cautious! 

Ingredients & Flavours 

This range comes in 5 flavours – Salmon & Mackerel, Duck & Turkey, Lamb, Lamb,Turkey, & Chicken, and Chicken For Puppies. 

No matter which you choose, each has high-quality protein sources, and a nice amount of broth, which accounts for the amazing moisture content. 

Most contain only peas as their carb source, although some include sweet potato too. Because there’s such a high water content, a wet food naturally has a lower carbohydrate content than a dry food. 

Brothers Complete Advanced Allergy Formula 

Best For Dogs With Allergies

Overall Rating88%
Protein Count90%
Carb Count & Sources90%
Fat Count90%
Added Supplements85%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Specially formulated for dogs with allergies 
  • Higher fat and protein counts than many specially formulated foods 
  • Grain and potato-free 
  • Packed with probiotics 

CONS

  • It’s a pricey option upfront but worth it in the end 
  • No joint supplements 
  • Only one flavour means your pup might not deal well with it if he’s sensitive to chicken (contains chicken liver) 

If your dog struggles with food-related allergies and intolerances, give this food a try. It’s formulated specifically to reduce allergies and contains only good stuff – highest quality protein and carbs, and nothing artificial.

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Added Probiotics 

This kibble is loaded with probiotics to promote health and easier digestion. It also has great Omega levels, which will help keep a healthy, allergy-free skin and coat. 

It doesn’t contain glucosamine, though, so you’ll need to supplement separately if your dog needs it. 

Wysong Epigen 90 Starch-Free Recipe

Highest Protein Formula

Wysong Epigen 90 Starch Free Canine Feline Dry Formula Dog Cat Food (WDCFE905)
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Check Price on Chewy.com

Overall Rating88%
Protein Count95%
Carb Count & Sources90%
Fat Count90%
Added Supplements80%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Extremely high in protein 
  • One of the lowest carb options on the market 
  • Added vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and prebiotics 
  • Starch-free to ensure lowest chance of allergies

CONS

  • No added joint or skin supplements 
  • Somewhat expensive 
  • “Meat protein isolate” is a vague description 

For dogs who thrive on a super high protein content, this is the highest we can find. It would be great for highly active dogs, working dogs, hunting dogs, and the like.

If your dog has kidney, liver, or digestion problems, we recommend choosing something a little lower in protein. 

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Very Low Carb, High Protein 

63% protein is a whopper of a number. Chicken meal is the first ingredient on the list, and meat meal is around 4 times higher in protein than real meat. This would explain the extremely high protein count! 

Next up is organic chicken, which is a high-quality ingredient. Meat protein isolate is next and this unfortunately gets a thumbs-down for being a rather vaguely described ingredient. We aren’t quite sure what it is, which can make it difficult for dogs who have particular allergies. 

If we do a bit of maths, we can come to the conclusion that the carbohydrate content in this food is less than 10%! This is amazing as a low-carb food is considered to be 30% at the lowest. 

No Added Supplements 

The biggest downside to this kibble is that there are no added supplements, although there are added vitamins and minerals. 

Considering this formula would work best for highly active dogs, it should have a dose of glucosamine and chondroitin, but you can buy a separate supplement to keep your energetic pup’s joints strong. 

Other useful things that aren’t mentioned on the dog food label are Omega fatty acids and L-carnitine. Although we know that there will naturally be some fatty acids in the food, as well as certain vitamins and minerals, it’s noticeable that they aren’t specifically mentioned on the label and makes it seem as though there really isn’t very much of them there.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High-Protein Senior Dog Food

Best Low-Carb Dog Food For Seniors

Overall Rating87%
Protein Count90%
Carb Count & Sources90%
Fat Count80%
Added Supplements90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • High protein count for a senior food 
  • Includes supplements for joint-strengthening 
  • L-carnitine is a super addition 
  • Great Omegas, including DHA and EPA 

CONS

  • Only comes in one flavour 
  • The fat count may be a little too low for active seniors 

It can be hard to find a senior dog food that retains a high protein count, but this one packs 30% protein into its kibble to maintain older dogs’ muscle mass. If your senior is slowing down a little, this would be a great food for them.

If you have an aging pooch who is still very active, you may need to add a couple of high-fat treats to their daily intake to make sure they have enough energy to stay lively. 

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Low Carb and Healthy 

The carb content of this dog food is around 41%, which is still on the lower side of the low-carb spectrum. 

The main carbohydrate source is peas, which is found third on the ingredient list. You’ll find carrots, sweet potato, blueberries, cranberries, and some unusual ingredients like parsley, kelp, and turmeric further down. 

There are no grains or artificial stuff, so whatever carbs are in here are the healthiest you can possibly find. 

Additions For Seniors 

It’s fantastic to see a senior dog food containing DHA and EPA. These are fatty acids that perform specific functions, and are usually seen only in puppy food. They both assist in reducing inflammation, promote a healthier skin and coat, and improve brain and eye function. 

There’s also a pretty decent dose of joint supplements, which are extremely helpful as dogs get older. Their joints have had quite a bit of wear and tear, so having some extra support is always a good thing. 

Lastly, L-carnitine is an amino acid that helps turn fat into usable energy. It’s wonderful to see in an older dog food as it helps them to regulate their energy levels and metabolism.


cute dog and cat posing with a white bowl

Testing Protocol & Criteria Used For Evaluation

Criteria 1- Protein Count 

Low carb dog food definitely needs to be filled out by adding great quality protein. 

Working dogs, hunting dogs, and sporting dogs need protein to keep their muscles tough, but did you know that your dog needs a certain amount of the nutrient even if they aren’t extremely active? 

Protein is the building block for a healthy body, so your dog needs 25% and upwards in their dog food. 

We’ve reviewed foods that use whole meat or meat meal as their protein sources, and stay away from meat by-products or vaguely named meat ingredients. 

Criteria 2- Carbohydrate Count & Sources

Obviously, when talking about a low-carb dog food we’re going to need to need to look at what carbs are in them. 

AAFCO doesn’t require manufacturers to state the carb content on their dog food labels, so it can be tough to figure out the exact numbers. If you want to do the math on your own, add the protein, fat, moisture, and fibre numbers, subtract that total from 100, and you’ll get a pretty accurate idea of the carb percentage of the dog food. 

The main carbohydrate sources used in dog foods are grains and fruits and vegetables.

Grains can push that carb total a little high, so we’ve tried to stick to reviewing foods that use fruits and veggies as their carb sources. We’ve also made sure the foods on this list have only a few carb sources on their ingredient list, even if they are vegetables or fruits. 

Criteria 3 – Fat Count 

Many dog parents assume that carbs are necessary for our pets to give them energy as the day goes on. Well, this may be true for humans, but dogs get most of their energy from fats. 

That’s why it’s extra important to have a high-quality source of fats in a low-carb dog food.

We’ve chosen foods that contain premium fat sources and a fat count in the high teens if possible. Although they perform a slightly different function, we’ve also made sure they contain great Omega fatty acid levels. 

Criteria 4 – Added Supplements 

If you’re going to be feeding your pup the best, the kibble will most likely come with some added supplements.

Things that are becoming the norm in a great quality dog food include glucosamine and chondroitin, Omega fatty acids, and vitamins A and E. L-carnitine is super for assisting in energy metabolism.

Most dog foods will include added vitamins and minerals, as well as chelated minerals for easier digestion.

We’ve had a look at the supplements in each food on this list and explained which kinds of dogs they would work well for.

Criteria 5 – Affordability

We aim to make the lives of both dogs and their parents easier and happier. If the above criteria are what will make a dog happy, then this one is what will help the pet parents.

Some of the dog food on this list is fairly pricey, although it’s the top of the range and your dog will be eating the best and healthiest food there is.

For those who need something a bit more affordable, though, we have the Best Value for Money option.

Don’t think you’ll be getting a food with compromised quality, though – after our review we can assure you it’s on-par with the higher-priced foods and just as healthy.

Your pooch can eat luxury without breaking the bank account! 


cute brown dog fed with low carb food

Questions & Answers

What makes a kibble low-carb?

Although this info is hard to find, dog foods contain between 30% and 70% carbohydrates. A low-carb kibble would obviously be one that is closer to 30%.

It can be hard to figure this out if there’s no number on the label, but you can get a pretty good idea based on the actual carbs included on the ingredient list.

You’ll want to see vegetables and fruits, which are super healthy, packed with antioxidants, and fairly low carb.

Avoid anything with grains, wheat, soy, or corn. Although some of these seem healthy, they’re generally high-carb but offer little nutritional value. 

What else should I be looking for in a low-carb dog food?

There’s no use choosing a low-carb dog food if the rest of the stuff in the food is low-quality! 

You should be looking for a super quality protein (single source or multiple sources). These should be easy to identify and include no meat by-products.

You’ll also want your main source to be an animal protein. Plant protein is helpful to add a bit extra, but animal protein provides essential amino acids that plants don’t.

Some premium fat sources are also necessary. Animal fat is best, the most common being chicken fat, pork fat, and salmon oil. You may also find flaxseed oil or sunflower oil, which are also decent.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are always welcome, as is L-carnitine. Chelated minerals help with digestion, and added vitamins, minerals, and probiotics are always nice additions. 

Can I feed my dog a kibble with grains? 

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with grains if your pup can tolerate them, they tend to be higher carb than vegetables and contain less nutritional value.

If you would prefer grains over veggies for some reason, go for something like rice, oats, millet, buckwheat, or quinoa. Avoid wheat, corn, and soy at all costs, as they’re low-quality and commonly cause allergies and intolerances.

When looking for a low-carb dog food, though, we would highly recommend going grain-free for the best nutritional value. 

Why choose a low-carb diet for my dog? 

Although dogs are omnivores, meaning they eat just about anything, technically they don’t need carbs to thrive.

Many dogs do just fine on a diet of protein and fat with very few carbs. However, the addition of some carbs can  provide extra fibre, vitamins, and minerals that they wouldn’t get in other food.

Low-carb is a good plan for dogs who suffer from hypothyroidism, diabetes, and other health conditions.

It can also be super helpful for those who struggle with food intolerances and allergies, as it provides fibre that helps with digestion. Eliminating excessive carbs also allows for fewer food interactions and less chance of bad reactions. 

Which dogs would benefit most from a low-carb diet?

Dogs with food allergies and intolerances would most likely benefit from a low-carb diet. 

It can also be helpful for pups suffering from health conditions such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, cancer, and anything affecting the digestion and absorption of nutrients. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean that perfectly healthy pooches can’t benefit from a low-carb diet! You’ll most likely notice that their pooping habits improve, they have a little more energy, and they aren’t as fussy about eating as they may have been before.

Is raw feeding a good idea if I want my dog to go low-carb?

Raw feeding would work well for dogs on a low-carb diet.

You can buy a raw food or start off with a raw-kibble mix. Once your pet is used to the taste and texture of raw you can make your own, but make sure to include vegetables and fruits in there for their (low) carb intake.