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How to solve the mystery behind dog food labels

Have you ever gone down the dog food aisle and feel lost? Did you just end up picking out the best looking packaging that was within your price range and called it a day? Now, have you ever gone to the store and read the different labels to figure out what would be good for them? If not, it’s time to start. We’re here to make buying the right dog food for them, simpler.

Choosing the right dog food now a days can be even more daunting than it was a few years ago. You have to consider age, weight, breed, energy type on top of organic, natural, single source, gluten free …UGH! Don’t you wish it could be as easy as knowing the difference between carrots and chocolate? Well we’re here to help keep your pets healthy and happy by walking you through how to read your dog’s food label.

The first step is to know your current brand of dog food. Most of the time when families go on vacation and leave their dog with a sitter or boarding facility, they don’t know what to tell them when they ask what type of food they eat. You should always know. If their sitter needs to run out and pick up more, it makes it easier for the care taker to know your dog’s diet. Now, grab your dog food bag, a pen and paper. We’re going to analyze and learn to read the label. You can also google the brand, typically the maker has the ingredients listed on their website.

Quality food, how to find it

The first word we’re going to look for is the moisture within the bag. This will help you figure out the true crude protein amount and fat between brands. Let’s say it has 10% moisture, that means the food is 90% of dry products. Let’s look at the first ingredient, crude protein and for example it says 20%. Divide the 20% by the 90%. You get 22% which is the amount of actual protein from the ingredients in it. Continue doing this with each ingredient by the 90% dry products. Keep this information on the side for now, we’ll use it again in a bit.

Ingredient list

All pet food ingredient lists are listed on the bag and by product order. By learning these ingredient meanings you can choose which food is highly digestible for your pet.

Here is an example of a higher end dog food label and a lower end grocery store label

Higher End: Duck, Chicken Meal, Chicken, Brown Rice, Pearled Barley, Oatmeal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Chicken Fat, Lamb, Potatoes, Dried Tomato Pomace, Dried Whole Egg, Salmon Oil, Cheese, Flaxseed, Brewers Dried Yeast, Alfalfa Meal, Carrots, Lettuce, Celery, Chicken Cartilage, Monocalcium Phosphate, Salt, Potassium Chloride, DL- …

Lower End: Beef, whole grain corn, barley, rice, whole grain wheat, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, beef tallow preserved with mixed-tocopherols, soybean meal, oat meal,poultry by-product meal, glycerin, egg and chicken flavor, mono and dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, salt, potassium chloride, poultry and pork …

Let’s compare

Higher end food: The first three ingredients are meat, providing protein.

The lower end food: Beef and then a long list of grains as a filler.

The higher end food provides healthy additives such as salmon oil for a healthy coat and flaxseed to help with digestion. The lower end continues to have by products and added flavors rather than true ingredients to keep them healthy.

Now go back to look at your percentages and compare it to the ingredient list. If it said there was 22% protein, compare it to the ingredient list is it good protein or fillers? Now that you can begin learning how to read the label, it’s time to see what is good for them. Knowing what these ingredients are can be seen here, from there you add in their age, weight, exercise level and if there are any allergies.

Looking for food doesn’t have to be daunting, once you get these facts under your belt you will be able read a label like the best of them and get your dog on the healthy track they need. If you are still having trouble your best source of help other than just reading the food label is talking with your veterinarian. They have the best insight on your dog’s history and nutritional needs. If you’re looking for a new vet check out your locations resource page on our website for ones we recommend.

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