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As dog owners, we show our affection for our dogs in many ways, one of which is giving them proper meals that contain all the necessary nutrients in the right proportions. Getting the right food for your dog can be a bit tough as there are a lot of options and so many brands with different compositions and ingredients. 

There are raw foods, dry foods, and wet foods for specific age ranges, diets, and so on. Knowing how to read a dog food label can help you decide and come to a conclusion on what is right for your dog. Although dog food labels can be somewhat difficult to decipher, this article will help you get the hang of reading them.

The first thing to know about dog food labels is that they mostly follow a similar pattern which is:

  1. Brand/product name
  2. Product weight, count, or measure of liquid based on the food formulation
  3. A guaranteed analysis which states the number of specific nutrients
  4. Ingredients listed by weight in a descending order
  5. A nutritional statement backed by tests that prove the level of nutrients the food provides. It could also state the age range the food is suitable for.
  6. Directions for feeding
  7. The manufacturer’s name and address
  8. Calorie statement


The name of the food is one of the most conspicuous foremost things to look out for. It gives you hints of what the ingredients are in it are. Most pet owners buy their pet food with a particular ingredient in mind, making manufacturers try to feature that ingredient in the product name. 

Some rules guide the naming of products. An example is the “95 percent rule” which says that an ingredient that makes up at least 95 percent of the product must be featured in the name. Therefore, if you see a product like “Beef for Dogs,” for example, that would mean the product is made up of at least 95 percent beef.

Also, there is the “With” rule. This rule requires that the ingredient after the word ‘with’ should make up at least 3% of the food. For instance, if a label reads, “Dog Meal with Chicken,” the ingredient after “with” which is Chicken, should be at least 3 percent of the product. So, when purchasing dog food and you come across a label that has “with” before an ingredient, do take note.


The quantity stated on the label helps you know the amount of food in the can. It can be measured by count, weight, or liquid measure. Densities can differ depending on factors like wetness or dryness of the food.


There are rules concerning the least amount of nutrients, and the highest amount of crude fiber and water a pet food should have. On the label, the percentages of crude fiber, crude protein, crude fat, and water must be stated. For any claims made by the manufacturers, there must be a guaranty. For instance, if a product is said to have vitamin supplements, there has to be a guarantee of the quantity the product provides. 


This is the most important part to take note of on a pet food label. Ingredients are listed in descending order of their weights. Collective terms cannot be used to list ingredients as each ingredient must be stated separately and with a common name. 


When you see statements like “100 percent nutritious” or “complete and balanced” on a dog food label, this means the food has met the set standards and contains the right amount of essential nutrients a dog needs for healthy living. Also, the life stage for which the food is suitable will be signified in the nutritional statement.


The feeding directions tell you what quantity of food to feed your dog. It can be stated either by the measure of the food per cup or by the weight of the food per pound. All the same, it is best to seek your vet’s opinion on how to feed your dog with any product you purchase. You also get the “best-used-by” information here to save your pet from eating rancid food.


Before any manufacturer can make claims such as "low-fat" or "low-calorie" on a food label, the number of calories contained in the food should be significantly small when compared to regular pet food. Also, the percentage reduction must be shown on the label with a named product to compare with.


When next you find yourself in the pet food store, I bet things will go a lot smoother, and you would be able to decide on what your pooch needs without any hassles. Simply follow the tips above to make your purchase as smooth and effortless as possible, and your dog would be happier and healthier for it.