The way to Read Dog Food Labels

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

Several dog food manufacturers can be quite devious and will often use very smart nuances in the title and also within arrangement of words on the label that can be very different to what the dog food actually contains. Also, there is an essential component to this, these rules connect just to solid material in the doggie food and do not address the wetness levels.

It should be noted that pet food labeling is regulated on a federal and state-by-state basis, with only “limited” guidance from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Please be aware of the fact that canine food producers often use conditions 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 will “it is not rare at all that will labeling and marketing information is designed to appeal to the latest trend in advertising human products. ”


*Chicken for Canines: If chicken is the first phrase 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 include at least 95% chicken.

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

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

*Chicken Flavor Dog Meals: The word “flavor” is the key to this one particular. AAFCO rules require that there should only be enough “chicken” to add an actual flavor to the food. It could be chicken fat, or chicken broth, or chicken by-products, and it could be a really 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 rooster or beef.

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

Your dogs health and longevity greatly depends on feeding him or her a safe and healthy diet. But figuring out how to read and interpret canine food labels can be perplexing. If you adhere to the following guidelines you should be able to read labels and understand them well enough to compare different products confidently.

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


* The “Guaranteed Analysis” for the dog food label at the back of the particular bag is a chart that provides the percentages of various ingredients found in that food (see an example below). The percentages listed for protein, fat, and fiber are dimensions of the food in its current state. However , because different foods possess varying amounts of moisture, you can just reasonably compare dog foods ”on a dry matter basis”. Nevertheless , the numbers given in the Assured Analysis are on an “as fed” basis and do not take into account the amount of moisture in that food. To determine the actual quantity of an ingredient in a food, in order to compare between brands or in between wet and dry foods, the numbers need to be converted to what is called Dry Matter (DM) basis.
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5. Please note that the moisture content can range anywhere from as little as 6% for dry foods to as much as 80% for processed foods. and it’s obvious that canned food contains more moisture than dry kibble. However , ironically, it might not contain as much protein. It’s hard to know which food contains the most protein, fat or fiber just before converting both to a dry matter 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 particular moisture accounts for 10% of the foods. So , we see that the dried out matter content is (100% : 10% = ) 90% of the food.

*Next, convert the proteins, fat and fiber percentages to a dry matter basis by separating the percentage amounts listed on the tag by the amount of dry matter (from the previous step). In our example, the particular 26% protein on the label converts to 28% on a dry issue basis by dividing 26% simply by 90%. (Notice that in our example the dry matter calculation is just slightly different than the labeled portion. The reason for this is the moisture level was only 10% per the label. When 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 by 60% =) or 43%.

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

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

* Next, a few take a look next at the ingredients list. Pet foods must list elements in order of weight and the 1st 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, grain are fillers used to provide power for the dog and appealing consistency to the kibble.

Actually, the AAFCO website admits that “Economics performs a part in any ingredient selection” plus “protein is not simply protein. Components providing protein have specific amino acids which may or may not match the particular 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 necessary for a healthy life.

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

* There are more and more dog care givers who are now searching for dog foods that use only human grade ingredients with no animal “by-products”. They steer clear of foods that use any artificial colors, flavors, 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 associated with essential nutrients.

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