Hi stranger! Signing up for MypetMD is easy, free and puts the most relevant content at your fingertips.

Get Instant Access To

  • 24/7 alerts for pet-related recalls

  • Your own library of articles, blogs, and favorite pet names

  • Tools designed to keep your pets happy and healthy



or Connect with Facebook

By joining petMD, you agree to the Privacy Policy.

Select the type of pet you have to find

essential nutrition advice for your pet.

Demystifying the Dog Food Label

ADVERTISEMENT

 

Guaranteed Nutrition

 

Regulations require that all dog food containers show the minimum percentages of protein and fat, and the maximum percentage of fiber and moisture contained in the product. Manufacturers may choose to include guarantees for other nutrients on their label. Sometimes ash guarantees are present, an especially important ingredient for cat foods.

 

It is important to look at moisture content when comparing dog foods. For example, when looking at protein, the dry dog food with the higher moisture content actually will contain less protein in the product, even if it is listed with the same minimum percentage on the ingredient panel.

 

Complete and Balanced

 

The AAFCO requires that any dog foods proclaiming that they are complete and balanced meet specific nutritional profiles to ensure complete nutrition. Foods can either be formulated to meet these requirements or be tested in animals according to specific AAFCO-dictated procedures. This statement must describe which life stage the product is meant to be suited for, such as for "growth," "maintenance," etc. It is important to note that not all pet foods that meet the AAFCO standards are necessarily properly balanced.

 

Feeding Instructions

 

Another important part of the dog food label is the feeding instructions, which tell the dog's caregiver how much of a particular food should be given to the dog on a daily basis. Owners should modify the amount fed based on the animal’s particular needs and body condition.

 

Calorie Statement

 

Dog foods can vary considerably in calorie content, so a calorie statement can help owners compare products based on the calories provided in a daily meal. The AAFCO does not require a calorie statement on all dog foods, so some manufacturers will voluntarily include a calorie statement on their products. Calorie statements are based on an "as fed" basis, so corrections for moisture content must be made, as with guarantees.

 

Manufacturer's Name and Contact Information

 

The manufacturer (or responsible party) for the dog food must by law include their contact information on the product. Most dog food companies will include a toll free phone number for customer service inquiries and/or a website address.

 

Using the information provided on the label, advice from your veterinarian, and the MyBowl interactive tool, you should be able to find the best possible food for your dog’s best possible nutrition for life.

 

More to Explore

Does Your Dog Food Have These 6 Vegetables?

Dog Not Eating? Maybe Your Pet Food Smells or Tastes Bad

Why Grain-Free Dog Food May Not Always Be the Best Choice

Is GMO-Free Dog Food Safer Than Regular Dog Food?

Comments  0

Leave Comment

Nutrition Questions
Answered By

Q. I want to feed a homemade meal for my dog. What are the basics I need to follow?

A. Feeding a homemade meal can be tricky, however there are several steps to take. The...

Read More
Q. Is it okay to give table food to my dog with kidney disease?

A. Your dog is likely on a special therapeutic food that helps take the workload off...

Read More
Q. Why should I buy cat food according to my cat's life stage?

A. The nutritional needs for your cat vary depending on their life stage. Kittens should...

Read More
View All the Questions