How to Read Dog Food Labels

How to Read Dog Food Labels


To comply with AAFCO rules, a product labeled “chicken for dogs” must contain at least 95% chicken.

* Dog food for turkey and chicken: Since turkey is the first ingredient, you can assume that this product consists of 95% turkey and 5% chicken.

As long as the food contains the word “nuggets” (a qualifier that many dog ​​food producers can legally use), the chicken in the dish must be at least 25% of the total components. Other words like “dinner”, “formula” and “right” allow manufacturers to use less meat. This dish does not even contain chicken among the three best ingredients!

Taste: The crucial term here is “taste”. AAFCO standards say that only enough “chicken” is allowed to flavor the dish. It can be chicken fat, broth or by-products, and it can be very little.

* Dog food with chicken: A food marked “with” something must contain 3% of that item. Dog food that contains chicken or beef may only contain 3% chicken or beef.

Now you can see how the word order matters!

A safe and healthy diet is crucial for your dog’s health and longevity. But understanding dog food labels can be difficult. If you follow the rules below, you should be able to read the labels and understand them well enough to compare articles.

* All labeling of pet food is regulated by federal and state laws, with instructions from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). But AAFCO simply sets basic standards. Be careful that dog food manufacturers often use terminology that is not defined by AAFCO’s rules to make their product more appealing to consumers. It is not uncommon, says AAFCO’s website, that labeling and marketing materials appeal to the latest trend in the marketing of human products.



* “Guaranteed analysis” on dog food labels indicates the proportion of different substances in the food (see an example below). The percentages given for protein, fat and fiber represent measures of the food in its current state. However, since different foods contain different amounts of moisture, you can only legitimately evaluate dog food “on a dry matter basis”. But the statistics for guaranteed analysis are “as fed” and do not take into account moisture in the food. To compare between different brands or between wet and dry food, the figures must be changed to dry matter (DM).

* Note that the moisture content of food can vary from 6% for dry food to 80% for canned food. because preserves have clearly more moisture than dry food. But it may not contain as much protein. You can not determine if the meal has the most protein, fat or fiber before drying it out.

* How: First subtract the moisture content from 100% to get the amount of dry matter. As you can see, moisture makes up 10% of the diet. So the dry matter content is 90% of the food.

* Then convert the percentage of protein, fat and fiber to dry matter by dividing the percentages by the amount of dry matter (from the previous step). In our example, a division of 26% protein with 90% gives 28% dry matter protein. (Note that the dry matter calculation in our example is very close to the stated%. The label stated that the moisture content was 10%. If the moisture content had been 40%, the dry matter content would have been 60% and protein would have been calculated as (26% divided by 60% =) or 43%.

* After converting the other labels, compare the new protein content of 28% dry matter with other dog food. You can compare fats and fibers after converting them to dry matter.

* Realize that percentages alone do not speak for the whole situation. Your dog’s diet may contain 28% protein, but where does it come from? Pet food manufacturers can get protein from sources that are not beneficial to your pet’s health. WARNING!

* Now let’s look at the ingredient list. Ingredients in animal feed are listed by weight, and they

corn, corn flour, whole wheat, barley, and rice are utilized as fillers to provide the dog energy and a tasty texture.

The AAFCO website recognizes this “” Economy influences ingredient selection “and” protein is not only protein. “Protein-rich ingredients contain amino acids that may or may not fit a dog’s amino acid profile.” For a healthy life, dog food producers commonly combine multiple protein sources.

For example, producers can divide an item down into components and then list each one individually so that a recognized unpleasant element too near the top of the list is not observed by the consumer (sly, huh!).

* More and more dog owners are looking for dog diets made with just human-grade ingredients and no animal “by-products”. They avoid foods with artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives (BHA and BHT). However, some animal by-products, like liver, are good providers of amino acids and other nutrients for dogs. Dry dog ​​foods also require preservatives to avoid spoiling and loss of nutrients.

• Guaranteed Analysis (GA) part of a pet food label:


* Crude Protein, not less than 26.0%

* Crude Fat, not less than 16.0%

* Crude Fiber, not more than 4%

* Moisture not exceeding 10.0%

Learning to read a label provides a wealth of information about the food you serve your dog. You’ll know how to compare foods and pick the finest one for your dog.

Labels for dog food are regulated by the FDA and the Department of Agriculture, just like human food labels. The main product display and information about the food are usually separated on dog food labels.

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