Deciphering Dog Food Labels
It takes less than a minute to scan a dog-food label, but what you learn can be crucial to your purchase decision. Here’s what you need to know.
- The Name: The name of the food gives clues as to how much of an ingredient is actually present. For example, foods that include a protein source in the product name ("beef formula") must contain at least 25% of the named ingredient.
- The Ingredients: The ingredients panel lists all food sources in the product in descending order by precooked weight. For dry food, a key ingredient should be a source of high-quality protein, such as chicken, lamb, or salmon.
- The Analysis: The guaranteed analysis gives the minimum or maximum percentage breakdown of the basic nutrients in the formula: protein, fiber, and moisture content, for example.
- The Contact Information: The manufacturer's phone number should be included. It indicates that the company is proud of its products and welcomes customer feedback.
The label also recommends how much to feed your dog each day. Use these recommendations as a starting point to determine feeding amounts, but consult your veterinarian for the ideal amount.