How to Read Your Pet’s Food Label


Trying to understand the back of your pet’s food bag can seem overwhelming! There are 4 very important areas you want to pay close attention to, and once you know how to decode the lingo, its super easy to compare brands and select the best food for your pooch!

1. The Ingredient List

Here are a few points about the Ingredients List that can help you when you’re trying to decipher what’s really in your dog’s food.

  • Ingredients are listed by weight, from heaviest, therefore the last ingredient is not necessarily the least important, it just weighs little- like parsley or other herbs that might be in your dog’s food.
  • Did you know that most meats can contain up to 75% water?  Meal after a protein (i.e Chicken Meal) means that most of the water and fat have been removed, leaving a concentrated protein level. Many people believe that meal has a nefarious purpose… but actually its not necessarily a bad thing in most cases!
  • When most of us see the word By Products, we get a bad feeling and try to avoid foods that contain by products, and while its obviously personal opinion on how you feel about feeding foods that contain by products, just be informed that it means brains, stomachs, livers, cleaned intestines, blood and tongue to name a few- but by products does not however mean hair, horns, hooves or teeth.

Where you or I may balk at the idea of liver, brains or stomach- our dogs may disagree!

2. Guaranteed Analysis

The Guaranteed Analysis(GA) must be displayed on your pet’s food bag. It lists the minimum amount of protein and fat that must be found, along with the max fiber and moisture level to be found in the kibble. If a company claims that there are other supplements in the food, they must be listed in the GA If you really want to compare the protein level in two different foods, a bit of math is required. If you’re trying to compare wet or canned to dry, you need to compare apples to apples, so we convert the canned food into a “dry matter basis”. An example is below:

Dry Food A:
Max. Moisture = 10%
Min. Protein= 20%

*If the moisture level is 10%, that means 90% is dry
*20% divided by 90%= 22% protein

Wet Food A:
Max. Moisture= 80%
Min. Protein= 5%

*If the moisture level is 80%, that means its 20% dry.
*5% divided by 20% = 25% Protein

There you have it! At a first glance, you would assume that the dry food has a higher protein level, when in fact in this case the wet food is actually higher in protein!

3. Feeding Guide

Always read and follow the feeding guide instruction on your pet’s food. Most go by the activity level of your pet, their age and breed size.

4. The Nutritional Adequacy Statement

If you’re unsure whether or not your pet’s food is for all stages, puppy or adult you can check here! Its important to feed your pet the proper stage, as there are vital nutrients involved that may differ from puppy hood to adult hood.