How to Read Dog Food Labels

Shelves of dog food. Includes Beneful and Pedigree

Shelves of dog food. Includes Beneful and Pedigree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Much like us humans, the food that dogs eat can either positively or negatively affect their physical and mental well-being. Foods closest to natural and wholesome can encourage a glossier coat, stronger immunity and a longer lifespan while foods closer to synthetic can cause health problems and sluggishness. Food labels on all edibles (both human and animal) have been a requirement for quite some time now. The purpose of such descriptions is to provide valuable information such as ingredients list, weight and nutritional content. Armed with this knowledge, you can confidently compare between liked-products, then make the best decision for your pet.

How to Read Dog Food Labels:

  1. Consider your dog’s requirements: When shopping for new dog food, you need to first consider their age, per-existing health conditions and their ideal weight. With those factors in mind, you will be able to narrow your choices after comparing labels.
  2. Ingredient list: The list of dog food ingredients are coded in order by heaviest first, therefore the first ingredient is the most important. The first ingredient should be a protein such as chicken, beef, lamb or turkey. Another valuable ingredient that should be high on the list is carbohydrates such as brown rice, barley and peas. Fats like omegas, sunflower oil and canola oil should also be present in quality dog food.
  3. Understanding byproducts: The term “byproduct” has gotten a bad reputation because it has come to represent inedible ingredients and valueless fillers. While it is true that many byproducts are unnecessary, some do pose nutritional value. When reading dog food labels, byproducts should be completely absent or lower on the list. If byproducts are listed choose a variety that contains meat byproducts and avoid brands that contain soy and corn gluten meal.
  4. Unreadable ingredients: The unreadable ingredients lower down on the dog food labels represent the preservatives and the artificial colors and flavors that are added to enhance shelve-life and taste. It is important to choose a variety that has little to no synthetic flavors or colors added, and the preservatives added should be derived from natural sources.

Choosing the right dog food for your fury friend won’t be as difficult once you know what to look for on the food labels. Your dog needs a complete mix of whole protein, vegetables and healthy carbohydrates to live a long and healthy life.

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