What's Really in Your Dog's Food?
WAIT! Just what's really in that food your about to feed your best friend? The most important thing for a pet parent to know is how to read a dog food label and truly understand what it means.
WHAT MUST BE INCLUDED ON THE LABEL?
- Product Name
- Brand Name
- Species for which the food is intended (dog, cat, hamster, etc.)
- Net Weight
- Guaranteed Analysis
- Ingredient Statement
- Nutritional Adequacy
- Feeding Directions
- Name and Address of Manufacturer
WHAT DOES THE NAME MEAN?
- If the name reads "chicken," "beef," "seafood," etc., then it must contain at least 95% of that item.
- If it says "dinner," "entree," "platter," etc., then it must contain 25% of that product.
- Saying "with" (chicken, beef, seafood, etc.), means that it needs to contain only 3% of that product.
- "Flavor" (chicken flavor, beef flavor, seafood flavor, etc.), means that there is no minimum requirement for that product.
WHAT IS BY-PRODUCT?
- The term "by-product" is very broad but includes animal parts like liver, stomach, and kidneys.
- Contrary to popular belief, these are pretty nutritious and good for your dog, so don't let the term put you off 100%.
- However, watch percentages and make sure that the meat outweighs the by-product.
UNDERSTANDING THE INGREDIENTS
- Ingredients must be listed by descending order of weight, but it's important to understand that this is weight BEFORE processing.
- Chicken or Beef may be listed as the main ingredient, but when raw, they contain a lot of liquid that is lost in the cooking process.
- To keep your dog in shape, it pays to follow the portion recommendations on the label.
- Calories per ounce can vary among different foods, so a cup of one brand might be half the calories of a cup of another.
- Keep in mind that every dog is different; be picky in choosing the best type of dog food to fit your dog's special needs.