The Science of Pet Food Labels


Check out the Nutritional Analysis


All pet foods are required to meet minimum standards for protein, fiber, fat, and moisture. These minimums are based on an “as fed” basis and include the moisture used for processing. For dry foods, dry matter percentages can be calculated by taking 100 percent minus the amount of moisture in the food (10 percent on average) and dividing the percentage listed by the percentage of dry matter.


For example, a dry food with 10 percent moisture is: 100 – 10 percent moisture = 90 percent dry matter. Taking 20 percent protein and dividing it by 90 gives you 22 percent protein on a dry matter basis. You can also use this formula to calculate the amount of fiber and fat in the food.


Make Sure it’s Complete and Balanced


The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) requires all foods to meet standards for nutritional adequacy. This is necessary for a product to be labeled as complete and balanced. The label should also tell you which life stage the food is meant for, such as growth stages for young pets, maintenance, or senior stage.


Feeding Instructions and More


All pet foods should have a general guideline printed on the package for feeding your pet. This is based on body weight and age, generally. Additionally, the package will list the companies that manufacture the food and distribute it. Most companies will list an address or phone number so that you can contact them in case of problems, questions or complaints.


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