The best way to Read Dog Food Labels

We all dog care givers are now somewhat protected against misleading dog food labels. That’s because of the oversight, rules, regulations and requirements of AAFCO (Association of American Feed Handle Officials). But , unless we know exactly what these rules are and how they may be applied to the wording on brands they’re of no use to us.

A few dog food manufacturers can be quite cunning and will often use very clever nuances in the title and also within arrangement of words on the label that can be very different to what the dog meals actually contains. Also, there is an important component to this, these rules bring up just to solid material in the doggie food and do not address the dampness levels.

It should be noted that animal food labeling is regulated on the federal and state-by-state basis, along with only “limited” guidance from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Please be aware of the fact that pet food producers often use terms that are undefined by the regulations to communicate more effectively with consumers and also to enhance their product’s image in the market. The particular AAFCO warns on their website that “it is not rare at all that labeling and marketing information is made to appeal to the latest trend in marketing and advertising human products. ”


*Chicken for Dogs: If chicken is the first term in this label, and is not combined with any other words like “dinner” or even “flavor”, etc .; in order to meet the AAFCO regulations, this product must actually contain at least 95% chicken.

*Turkey and Chicken Dog Food: By labels it” Turkey and Chicken Canine Food”, and nothing else, you can be relatively certain that this product is made up of 95% chicken and chicken combined, with the rooster content being slightly less than the turkey, since turkey is detailed as the first ingredient.

*Chicken Nuggets for Dogs: By using the word “nuggets” (a qualifier that many dog foods companies can legally use) and since this name has the word “nuggets” in its title, the rooster in the food is going to be lower than 95% of the total ingredients, but must be at least 25%. Some of the other words manufacturers can use to get apart with using less meat are usually “dinner”, “formula”, and “platter”. The food having this name does not even have chicken in the top 3 ingredients!

*Chicken Flavor Dog Food: The word “flavor” is the key to this one. AAFCO rules require that there must only be enough “chicken” to add an actual flavor to the food. It could be chicken fat, or chicken broth, or even chicken by-products, and it could be a very small amount.

*Dog Food with Chicken breast: A food listed as “with” anything is required to contain only 3% of that ingredient. Dog food “with” chicken, or “with” beef, should contain only 3% of chicken or beef.

Now you can see what a difference the order of words and phrases makes!

Your dogs health and long life greatly depends on feeding him or her a safe and healthy diet. But figuring out how to read and interpret doggy food labels can be perplexing. In case you adhere to the following guidelines you should be in a position to read labels and understand all of them well enough to compare different products with full confidence.

* The labeling of all animal food is regulated on a federal and state-by-state basis, with guidance through the Association of American Feed Handle Officials (AAFCO). However , AAFCO offers only minimum requirements. So , be aware that dog food manufacturers often use terms that are not defined simply by AAFCO regulations so they can make their product more appealing and enhance their brand and or product’s image to consumers. On their website the AAFCO cautions, “it is not rare at all that labeling and marketing info is designed to appeal to the latest trend in marketing human products. ”


* The “Guaranteed Analysis” within the dog food label at the back of the bag is a chart that provides the percentages of various ingredients found in that food (see an example below). The percentages listed for proteins, fat, and fiber are dimensions of the food in its current condition. However , because different foods have varying amounts of moisture, you can just reasonably compare dog foods ”on a dry matter basis”.
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Nevertheless , the numbers given in the Guaranteed Analysis are on an “as fed” basis and do not take into account the amount of dampness in that food. To determine the actual quantity of an ingredient in a food, or compare between brands or among wet and dry foods, the particular numbers need to be converted to what is known as Dry Matter (DM) basis.

2. Please note that the moisture content can range anywhere from as little as 6% for dry foods to as much as 80% for refined foods. and it’s obvious that processed food contains more moisture compared to dry kibble. However , ironically, it might not contain as much protein. It’s difficult to know which food contains the almost all protein, fat or fiber before converting both to a dry issue basis.

* Here’s how: Very first, (using the example below) determine the amount of dry matter by deducting the percentage listed for wetness from 100%. As you see, the moisture accounts for 10% of the foods. So , we see that the dry matter content is (100% : 10% = ) 90% from the food.

*Next, convert the protein, fat and fiber percentages to a dry matter basis by separating the percentage amounts listed on the content label by the amount of dry matter (from the previous step). In our example, the 26% protein on the label converts to 28% on a dry issue basis by dividing 26% simply by 90%. (Notice that in our illustration the dry matter calculation is just slightly different than the labeled percentage. The reason for this is the moisture level was just 10% per the label. If the moisture level had been, say, 40%, then your dry matter content would have just been 60% and protein on a dry matter basis would have already been calculated as (26% divided simply by 60% =) or 43%.

5. Now compare the new protein amount of 28% on a dry matter basis to other dog foods after transforming the other labels in the same manner. You can also carry out comparisons for fat and dietary fiber after converting them to a dried out matter basis.

* You should understand that considering only percentages won’t tell the whole story. Your dog food might have 28% protein on a dry issue basis, but what is the source of that will protein? Pet food manufacturers will get protein from sources that are NOT good nutritionally for your pet and can even end up being harmful! BE CAREFUL!

* Next, let’s take a take a look next at the ingredients list. Pet foods must list ingredients in order of weight and the initial five ingredients will usually make up the most of the pet food formula. Look for meats as one of the first ingredients on an animal food label. Grains, such as corn, corn meal, whole wheat, barley, rice are fillers used to provide energy for the dog and appealing structure to the kibble.

Actually, the AAFCO website admits that “Economics performs a part in any ingredient selection” and “protein is not simply protein. Ingredients providing protein have specific proteins which may or may not match the amino acid profile required by a doggy. ” Dog food manufacturers are usually known to routinely combine multiple proteins sources to provide for all the amino acids required for a healthy life.

* You need to be conscious that manufacturers can manipulate the information on labels (and some do) e. g. by breaking an ingredient down into components and then listing each one individually so that a recognized unwanted ingredient too near the top of the checklist is not noticed by the consumer (pretty sneaky, huh! ).

* You can find more and more dog care givers that are now searching for dog foods apply only human grade ingredients with no animal “by-products”. They steer clear of food items that use any artificial colors, tastes, sugars and chemical preservatives ( BHA and BHT). However , there are some animal by-products like liver and other bodily organs are excellent sources of the amino acids along with other nutrients that dogs need. In addition , dry dog foods require chemical preservatives to prevent spoilage and deterioration of essential nutrients.

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