Pet food labels share information on the dietary regulations of each pet food. Reading and interpreting pet food labels and deciphering the right ingredients can be a bit confusing to meet the pets requirement for a balanced diet. Here’s all the information you need to make the right selection for your pet!
By Dr Adarsh J*
As a pet owner, you want to ensure your furry friend gets the best nutrition possible. One way to ensure this is by reading and interpreting pet food labels. But deciphering what’s on the label can be a bit confusing with so many different brands and types of pet food available. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how to read and interpret pet food labels, including what to look for and what to avoid.
Why is reading pet food labels important?
Reading and interpreting pet food labels is important for a few reasons. First, it can help you select a food that meets your pet’s specific nutritional needs. Second, it can help you avoid foods that may contain harmful ingredients or additives. And third, it can help you determine if the food you’re considering is appropriate for your pet based on their age, weight and activity level.
What to look for in pet food labels?
Here are some of the most important things to look for when reading and interpreting pet food labels.
- Ingredient list
The ingredient list is perhaps the most important part of the pet food label. Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight, so the first ingredient listed is the most abundant in the food. Look for high-quality protein sources like chicken, beef or fish. These should be the first ingredient listed, as they provide essential amino acids that are important for your pet’s overall health.
Avoid foods that contain by-products, fillers and artificial preservatives. By-products are low-quality sources of protein that are made from chicken beaks, feet and residual organs. Fillers are ingredients that have little nutritional value and are added to pet food to bulk it up. Common fillers include corn, wheat and soya. Artificial preservatives are often added to pet food to extend its shelf life and can be harmful to your pet’s health.
Look for food nutrients that contain fruits and vegetables, as these can provide essential vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants that can support your pet’s immune system. Whole grains can also be a good source of fiber, B vitamins and other essential nutrients.
- Guaranteed analysis
The guaranteed analysis is a statement that provides information about the nutrient content of the food. It includes information on the minimum and maximum percentages of protein, fat, fibre and moisture in the food. Ensure that the protein and fat levels are appropriate for your pet’s age, weight and activity level. For example, puppies and active dogs may need higher levels of protein and fat to support their growth and energy needs.
- Here’s what to look for in the guaranteed analysis:
Protein: Look for a food that has a high-quality protein source listed as the first ingredient and ensure that the protein level is appropriate for your pet’s needs.
Fat: Fat is an essential source of energy for your pet. Also, it can provide essential fatty acids that are important for the skin and coat health.
Fibre: Fibre can help support your pet’s digestive health. It can also help keep them feeling full and satisfied.
Moisture: Moisture is an essential component of any pet’s diet, and it can help prevent dehydration and support healthy kidney function.
- Quality statement
Look for a statement on the packaging that indicates the food meets nutrient profiles or has undergone feeding trials. This indicates that the food has been formulated to meet the nutritional needs of pets.
- Feeding guidelines
The feeding guidelines on the packaging provide information on how much food to feed your pet based on their weight and age. However, these guidelines are just a starting point, and you may need to adjust the amount based on your pet’s activity level and individual needs.
- Consider special needs
When your dog is sick, their nutritional needs may change and it’s important to consider special nutrition to help them recover. Certain health conditions, such as gastrointestinal issues, liver or kidney disease, cancer, may require specific dietary considerations.
In conclusion, reading and interpreting pet food labels can help you choose high-quality food that meets your pet’s nutritional requirements and maintain their health.
*M.V.Sc (Animal Nutrition), Techno-Commercial Manager, Drools Pet Food Pvt Ltd, works closely with the organisation to dispel any widespread misconceptions that pet parents may have. He assists the organisation to develop new products which helps cure various ailments in pets.