Six secrets of dog food labels

Understanding dog food labels can be a cumbersome task, considering the amount of information they provide. Use these 6 parameters to know which is the best pet food for your furry friend.
–by Dr Adarsh J.


Interpreting dog food labels can be helpful in determining the nutritional value and quality of the food that you are considering for your pet. Here are some key points to consider when interpreting dog food labels –

  • Ingredient List

The ingredient list is a fundamental aspect of any dog food label. It provides valuable insights into the composition of the food and helps us determine the quality of the ingredients used. Ingredients are typically listed in descending order by weight, with the most substantial ingredients listed first. Look for high-quality protein sources such as real meat, poultry, or fish as the primary ingredients. These animal-based proteins are highly digestible and provide essential amino acids for your dog’s overall health. Avoid foods that list generic terms like “meat by-products” or “animal digest,” as these may indicate lower-quality ingredients and lack the essential nutrients your dog needs.

  • Guaranteed Analysis

The guaranteed analysis section outlines the minimum percentages of crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber, and the maximum percentage of moisture present in the dog food. These values give you a general idea of the nutrient content of the food. However, it’s important to note that the specific needs of your dog may vary depending on factors such as breed, age, size, and activity level. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate nutrient levels for your dog’s individual needs.

  • Nutritional Adequacy Statement

The nutritional adequacy statement confirms that the dog food meets the nutritional standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This statement assures you that the food is formulated to provide complete and balanced nutrition for your dog’s specific life stage, whether it’s growth, adult maintenance, or all life stages. Choosing dog food that meets AAFCO standards ensures that your pet’s dietary needs are being met.

  • Life Stage Designation

Dogs have different nutritional requirements at different stages of life. Some dog foods are specifically formulated for puppies, while others cater to adult or senior dogs. Ensure that the food you select is appropriate for your dog’s life stage. Formulas designed for each life stage contain the right balance of nutrients to support optimal growth, development, and overall health.

  • Feeding Guidelines

The feeding guidelines on the dog food label provide recommendations for the amount of food to feed your dog based on their weight. These guidelines serve as a starting point, but it’s important to consider other factors as well. Your dog’s activity level, metabolism, and overall health should be taken into account when determining the appropriate feeding amount. Monitor your dog’s weight and body condition regularly and adjust the feeding amount as necessary to maintain a healthy weight.

  • Additional Information

Some dog food labels provide additional information that can be beneficial for specific dietary needs or sensitivities. For instance, if your dog has allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients, look for labels that indicate the absence of those ingredients, such as grain-free or gluten-free options. Additionally, some dog foods may include specific nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat or added antioxidants for immune support. Consider these additional factors based on your dog’s individual needs.

(Dr. Adarsh J – Asst Techno-Commercial & Product Manager, Drools Pet Food Pvt Ltd)