How to Read Your Dog’s Food Label

You’ll have a hard time finding a creature that will love you like your dog. As soon as you let her into your home, you feel the joy and happiness that she spreads. That’s why it is of the utmost importance to take good care of our beloved dogs, which is why feeding them quality food is a must.

But, if you’re not sure what is best for your furry friend, have no fear. There are steps you can take to get a better idea of the nutritional value of your dog’s food. Of course, you need to pay attention to food labels, but you also have to know what to look for and what to avoid.

Decisions, Decisions

Nowadays when we pay a visit to the pet shop, we have to deal with a proper challenge of choosing the right dog food, and that’s nothing unusual due to the fact that there are so many choices. But, clever dog owners know that the first thing they need to do is take a look at the label in order to check the meal’s content. The sad reality is that some brands contain as little as three-percent meat, and if we want our dogs to be healthy, their diets have to consist of a (much) larger amount of meat, because animal protein is considered a necessary component of a healthy, proper diet.

Where to Look and What to Look for

A healthy dog is the result of a careful and well-informed owner! The following tips will give you a better idea of what to look for when you’re scanning those labels:

  • Firstly, turn the pack over and carefully read the ingredient label! This sounds quite obvious and logical, but understand that the picture and words on the front don’t tell the whole story. Some brands may even go as far as writing descriptions and claims that turn out to be misleading in the end. Don’t let them trick you!
  • Meat should be the first ingredient on the list. It’s plain and simple; when you see that meat is listed first, you’ll know that meat is the main component of the food and that it’s a high quality dog food!
  • When it comes to types of meat, look for a specifically named meat. For example, look for chicken, lamb or beef. Some brands can be vague with their ingredients on purpose, so you need to be extra smart. If you see that the ingredients are vaguely labeled, for example, and the brand only mentions “meat” or “meat meal,” avoid it! That is not the real deal.
  • It’s important to emphasize that going for animal derivatives is bad. Avoid animal derivatives and by-products completely! Eliminate them, and you’ll do your dog a favor.
  • Last but not least, always look for a short list of ingredients. This is somewhat of a general rule and it helps you to avoid pet food with cheap fillers, artificial fillers, artificial colors, sugars, and additives that are disguised as meat. You probably know that those toxic additives and fillers can’t replace real meat, but it’s worth emphasizing that point once again.

Good Label Example and Bad Label Example

You’ve gone through this mini guide that teaches you what exactly to look for on the back of the dog food pack, now it’s time to show you examples of good and not-so-good labels. That way you’ll easily spot what you want.

Let’s start with an unclear and non-descriptive food label.

  • Meat & Meat Derivatives (Poultry, Beef and/or Lamb); Cereal(s) & Vegetable(s); Fish (Including Salmon); Vitamins & Minerals; Flavor; Thickeners; Colors; Sugars

You see how the brand omitted the exact type of meat used to make the dog food. Instead, they listed a few types, but let’s not kid ourselves here, why would they need thickeners, colors and sugars if they really used proper meat? On the other hand, here we have a clear and precise food label that lists chicken as the number one ingredient.

  • Chicken, Chicken Broth, Wild Rice

Obviously, there are no additives, colors, thickeners, or sugars. It’s quite plain and simple, which means it’s exactly the type of label you should be looking for.


This guide should be a great help for finding better quality food for your dog. Dogs that eat high-quality food with proper meat on a regular basis get the tools they need to live a happy healthy life. And you know that a happy dog means a happy home, and isn’t that what we all aim for? Buy the right food—your dog will be grateful.

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