How Do You Read and Understand Your Pet Food Labels

Guest Blog by Ashley McCarthy

Knowing how to read pet food labels is such an important tool to have! It can get very in-depth and complicated but I’m going to keep it simple with a few handy tips and facts!

  • The ingredients listed on the back of a pet food packet, are listed most to least in order of weight. So when you see the first ingredient on that list it means it essentially should make up a very large portion of that food. And as canines need a high-quality protein diet, we would expect that first ingredient to be meat. However these ingredients are all listed before the cooking and processing has commenced, which means the meat has now lost its moisture and majority of its weight. So theoretically it moves down the ingredient list. So what we need to be looking for is for the second, third and sometimes even fourth ingredient to be meat as well, rather than ingredients such as ‘beet pulp, brewers yeast, corn, barley etc, as this would mean we are feeding essentially a vegetarian diet, far from what our dogs digestive system was designed for.

    These ingredients are just cheap fillers, and they help with binding the biscuits together in their little round form, but unfortunately they aren’t very nutritious.
  • We also want to be seeing the meat ingredient as listed using the word ‘meat” such as “beef meat, chicken meat, roo meat’ instead of ‘meal’, when we see ‘beef meat’ it tells us that the meat used was a higher quality meat cut such as muscle meat, and we are aiming for our dogs to high high-quality protein right? Well, when we see ‘meal’ it means the company could have and most likely has used cheaper parts of the meat, this could be heads, beaks, anus etc, and with the prices of some of these “premium” bags, just have a little…. Do you think some of these are actually worth the money?
  • Look for the word ‘salt’ in your ingredient list. Any ingredient listed after the word salt means that there is less than 1% of that ingredient in that bag, so just check that your “turkey and blueberry” food doesn’t just have a couple of blueberries!
  • If anyone is feeding pre-made raw mince from most supermarkets and pet stores, please check the ingredients list for a preservative called ‘preservative 223’, it is highly toxic and can cause neurological symptoms. This can happen after eating the food once, or it can happen after accumulation of the food over time. My own dog many years ago obtained neurological symptoms from this preservative, and many others have lost their lives. It’s beyond me how it is still legal to be used in our pet foods 🙁

For more information of pet food labels please check out my blog.