Understanding dog food labels is fairly easy to do once you have a clear grasp on how it all works. The thing to remember is that although dog food labels aren’t quite as clearly laid out as the food labels on our food, reading food labels on dog food follows the same basic idea as reading labels on human food. Check out these tips for understanding dog food labels and demystifying the mess!
Related: Bad Dog Food: What’s In It & How Do You Avoid It?
Reading Food Labels – Demystifying the Mess
I’m of the opinion that dog food labels should be laid out like human food labels. It would make everything so much easier. Currently, they aren’t, so you have to take a different approach to reading them than you would to reading human food labels. Let’s look at all the important parts of the food label and how it works.
Just like human food labels, pet food labels are required to have all ingredients used in that food. And just like human food labels, pet food labels list the ingredients by weight, going from heaviest to lightest. This means that the ingredients are listed by the amount used in the food from most to least.
Knowing this can help when it comes to understanding dog food labels because it allows you to see clearly which ingredients are used most in your dog’s food. That can help you decided if it’s a quality food. If for instance, a dog food label lists corn, wheat, or another carbohydrate source first, you know that there is more of that than anything else in the bag.
Dog food labels have a guaranteed analysis section which tells consumers how much crude protein, fat, fiber, and moisture are in the food. The important word to note here is crude. Crude protein, fat, and fiber doesn’t necessarily mean digestible protein, fat, and fiber. You’ll want to look at the ingredients as well as the guaranteed analysis to see what’s up. For example, if I have to pick between a dog food made with beef which has a crude protein of 20% or a dog food made with beef byproducts which have a crude protein of 30%, I’ll pick the one with beef. That’s because meat byproducts are more likely to have indigestible ingredients.
Related: Best Dog Food Choices
Understanding Food Labels – Hit the Highlights
Thanks to the AAFCO the governing body of animal foods and their AAFCO standards, all dog foods have at least a minimum quality to ensure their health. That means that most of them contain the same basic, essential vitamins and minerals. The big thing to remember when reading food labels on dog food is to hit the highlights. Look for high-quality proteins like whole meats, NOT meat byproducts; quality carb sources like potato, brown rice, and sweet potato; and the guaranteed analysis label.
One last thing. Reading food labels is an excellent way to ensure you know what your pet is eating, but arm yourself with a little more knowledge and speak to your vet before getting a new food for your dog. Your vet will be able to recommend foods that are known to be exceptionally healthy and filled with wholesome ingredients.