If you have ever studied the labels on dog foods, you will notice a myriad of information, including the ingredients, analytical constituents, additives and feeding guidelines.
But what does it mean? And what should you be looking out for when selecting a suitable food for your dog?
In today’s article, we cover food labelling and tell you what it all means.
Most of the branding and wording on the front of dog food will tell you the flavour and who it is suitable for depending on the life stage of the pet. It may also give extra information such as whether it is a diet for a specific condition or, for example, for sensitive pets i.e. hypoallergenic.
On the back or side, you will find two other main sections of information: Ingredients (Composition) and Analytical Constituents
The first thing to note is that the ingredients are listed in descending order, according to the weight. The list of ingredients is important because it allows us to understand the quality of the raw materials used.
If it is a good quality dog food, it will list fresh ingredients by their specific name.
What about Meat and Animal Derivatives?
Meat and animal derivatives are legally defined as all the fleshy parts of slaughtered warm-blooded land animals fresh or preserved by appropriate treatment, and all products and derivatives of the processing of the carcase or parts of the carcase of such animals.
In essence, they are ingredients which are surplus from the human food chain!
Here’s what you can expect in relation to the labelling:
- Chicken flavoured = less than 4% chicken
- With chicken = at least 4% chicken
- Rich in chicken = at least 14% chicken
- Chicken dinner = at least 26% chicken
This list shows the nutrient analysis of the finished product, defining the amount of protein, fibre, fats, etc.
Legally the percentage of crude protein, fat, fibre and ash has to be displayed on the packaging. But remember, the list of analytical constituents is just an index of quantity, not quality!
Understanding the labels
If we look at our own labels as an example – on this label, you can see the exact breakdown of fresh chicken 31% with dried chicken and stock 24%.
This means that 55% of the ingredients are chicken proteins.
Good quality food will always have a meat-based source of protein as the first ingredient on the list.
On this particular product, sweet potato makes up 26% of the ingredients. Sweet potato is packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals and naturally gluten-free.
You can read a previous blog post on ‘Why Sweet Potato in our Dog Food’ here.
Finally, all the other functional ingredients and additives are listed and clear to see as well.
The additives in our food are also used in human foods and contain necessary vitamins and minerals, but beware, some dog foods may have colourants as part of the additives.
When the ingredients are listed clearly and specifically, you can generally be sure that it is of a higher quality.
The source of protein should be clearly identifiable and of one source. Additionally, the source of fat and oil should be from not only an animal source but a singularly identified species.
We hope this has helped you understand dog food labelling better. If you having any questions relating to your dog’s diet, or if you would like to discuss how our food could potentially help your dog, please get in touch.