How to Read Dog Food Labels

There is an easy way to ensure you’re feeding your dog properly, read the label of his canned or dry food. By reading them, you can discover whether the food contains protein and other ingredients your pet needs to be healthy.

By using these tips, you will be able to read any dog food label.

Start with Guaranteed Analysis

When you start reading the labels on dog foods, you should see a section called “Guaranteed Analysis.” This section tells you the amount of crude protein, fiber, fat, and moisture in the food.

The law requires dog food labels to only list the minimum amounts of protein and fat and the maximum amounts of moisture and fiber. However, many manufacturers list more than the minimum percentages of fat and protein.

From the Top Down

The list of ingredients on a dog food label is in descending order of amount according to its dry weight. That means the heaviest ingredient in the food is first on the list. With good quality food, two animal proteins should be among the first ingredients.

Ideally, there should be two fat sources in the food as well. Protein and fat provide the energy and fatty acids that dogs need. Fatty acids can make the ingredients more digestible. Some of the proteins in dog foods should be beef, chicken, fish, lamb, or turkey.

Buy According to Size

The food you buy should cater to the size of your dog. Foods for small breeds are going to be very different than for large breed dogs. The dry food kibble will be smaller, making it easier for a small dog to eat, and the serving size should contain the appropriate number of calories.

Small breed formulas are for toy dogs like chihuahuas or Pomeranians. The formulas are also made to help minimize diseases for those breeds. If you’re not sure what brand is good dog food for small dogs, read their comparisons.

Serving Suggestions

Take the serving recommendations on dog food labels with a grain of salt. Many experts say that the manufacturers’ recommendations call for overfeeding dogs to sale more of their foods. How much your dog is fed will depend on his or her weight, age, breed size, and how much they exercise each day.

Adult dogs should be fed twice a day, and puppies need a minimum of three feedings. A vet can give you recommendations about how much to feed your pet, but you can use these serving recommendations for the size of your dog as well.

Go Natural

Natural dog food is a great option for your pet. However, be cautious with dog foods that have “holistic” on the label. It doesn’t have a legal definition, so holistic doesn’t have any meaning on a label.

However, if you buy organic dog food, then you should find the USDA organic label on the bag or can. Also, if the food calls itself organic, then 95 percent of its ingredients must be organic.

If the label states the food is “made with organic ingredients,” then 70 percent of the ingredients must be organic.

A manufacturer whose food is less than 70 percent organic can list organic ingredients on the label, but there won’t be an organic seal on the bag or can.

It is important to read the label on the food you buy your canine companion to ensure their health at every stage of their life. Select foods with good quality ingredients and feed them the correct amount to keep your dog healthy and happy.