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How to read dog food labels

Cómo leer las etiquetas de los piensos para perros

Lobo Azul |

Today we are going to talk about an important topic: How to read animal feed labels? How do you read the ingredients correctly?

First of all, we must say that it is always advisable to talk to your trusted veterinarian to obtain the best commercial diet to give your dog. They know the general problems of dogs, their nutritional needs and what is best according to age. On many occasions, dog owners trust in giving them any brand of dog food without taking into account its composition and formula. There are many differences between one dog food and another .

Your dog's diet is a fundamental part of its health and well-being. So the advice is this: before buying dog food from any brand, it is advisable to carefully review the composition of the food and always give an adequate quality of dog food to your four-legged friend.

The meaning of the labels present on dog food.

In dog food you could find different terms, each one has a specific meaning:


It is the name that the manufacturer assigns to the dog food.


This indicates the animal species for which the food is intended, including the life stage. We can find distinctions in food for puppies or adult dogs.

Food name

We speak of a complete food when it provides the complete nutritional requirements of the animal, while the food supplement is what alone is not capable of guaranteeing the nutritional needs.


Dry food has a moisture content of less than or equal to 14%; Semi-moist food has a moisture content of between 14 and 34%; wet feed has a moisture content greater than 34%.


These are the materials that food is made of. They are usually listed in descending order. So the first ingredient is the one that is present in the largest quantities, and so on. This means that if the first ingredient marked is cereals, it means that said diet is rich in cereals and not in meat or fish, so this specific dog food would be of lower quality compared to a dog food in the that meats or fish are found in a greater proportion. The food, both dry and wet, is usually supplemented with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin. A, vitamin D3, etc…

Analysis levels

The content of the analysis table is a table that indicates the values ​​of the chemical analyzes of the foods reported in percentage. The values ​​you find here are for the entire product (on a wet basis) including water.


It is the amount that is given to your pet and will depend on the age and weight.

Average component analysis


Meat or fish (and in particular, eggs or soy feed). Dog foods that provide protein through meat instead of flour are more valuable. You can find the following words on the label of different dog foods: fresh meat, fresh dehydrated meat, meat meal (Contains bone and feather residues among others), meat and meat products (some dog foods do not indicate the origin of the meat), eggs. By crude protein we mean the amount of a protein, both animal and vegetable, and it varies depending on the type of food, whether it is food for adult dogs or food for puppies, the percentages vary depending on the brand and type of dog food. A quality dog ​​food usually has more than 25% crude protein, with 30%, 35% or 40% we are talking about a high quality dog ​​food. It is important that the types of protein, animal and vegetable, are correctly balanced, that is, if the majority of proteins come from vegetables or animals.

Carbohydrates and fiber

It is found in corn, wheat, rice, beet pulp, fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), potatoes. In dry feed we see a higher percentage of cereals than wet foods. In feed for adult dogs, crude fiber varies between 1.8 and 2.5%, while in puppies it usually ranges between 1.5 and 2%. Although these percentages may vary depending on the brand and quality of the dog food.

Oils and fats

Those found in animal feed can be of animal origin (chicken, pork, tallow, fish oil) or of plant origin (flax seeds, corn, sunflower, the most common). Crude fat is the percentage of lipids present in the food.


It is the amount of water present in the food. In dry food it varies between 9 and 10% (so if the dog or cat is going to eat only dry food they can drink more water), while in wet food it varies between 65 and 85%.

Raw ashes

They are the percentage of inorganic substances. A high mineral value does not always have to agree with the percentage of ash in the feed, since a high content of slaughterhouse by-products, such as feathers, bones and connective tissue, can be found here. A quality dog ​​food has a correct supply of minerals and no by-products from the production phase. What's more, a good, high-quality dog ​​food contains foods that go through exhaustive controls and are suitable for human consumption.

Here are some tips for reading labels

If the ingredients of both dry and wet food for dogs and cats include cereals as the first ingredient, qualitatively it is not the most ideal. Unless it is a specific dog food. It usually means that grains were used as filler material at the expense of the more prized meat. I want to point out that dogs and cats are primarily carnivores.

If it is written, for example, chicken, on the feed label, it is a statement that indicates that the highest percentage of the meat is chicken, but it also contains other types of proteins such as vegetable proteins.

If a food is defined as monoprotein, perhaps duck, then finding the generic words oils and fats would nullify the monoprotein effect; it may be that among the fats there are other types of animal fats.

If a dog food indicates the percentage of protein, you have to consider the source of these proteins to find out how many are bioavailable, that is, if the origin is beef, lamb, chicken, fish such as salmon, eggs or if On the contrary, proteins come from flour or vegetables in greater quantities.

Carefully read the percentage of moist and semi-moist foods and their dosage. Sometimes these foods have to be given in larger quantities since they contain too much water or too much fiber, which means a much more expensive diet for your dog unnecessarily. A good, high-quality dog ​​food is the most recommended for your dog's daily diet.

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