7 Things To Know About Dog Food Labels

Experts estimate that over 63 million American households own at least one pet dog. If you live in such a household, you’ll know exactly why dogs are so popular with American families. The companionship they offer is different than that of any other animal.

Considering the special place the family pet holds in our hearts, it’s crucial to make sure that the food they eat is healthy and nourishing.

The best place to find information about dog food is on the packaging label; however, these can be difficult to read if you don’t know what you’re
looking for.

Read on as we discuss the seven most important things to keep in mind when reading dog food

1. Consult Your Veterinarian

The first piece of advice doesn’t relate to reading dog food labels. However, it’s probably the most important thing when it comes to feeding your dog, so it’s worth stressing.

Before deciding on the type of food that’s best for your pet, you should consult with your vet. Your vet will know by the size and breed of your dog what type of food is most suitable.

Not only that, but your vet knows your dog individually. They can tell you about any allergies or dietary requirements your dog has, and how to pick food that facilitates these.

Even if your dog is only slightly overweight, it’s worth considering whether you should modify their diet. Consulting with a vet will help you to get a better idea of whether this is necessary.


2. Know the Bare Essentials

A lot of dog food labels are very heavy on detail. Full lists of ingredients and detailed explanations of their nutritional benefits for your pet can take up a lot of space.


With that in mind, you need to know what to look for. The following details are the most significant in terms of the benefits of the food for your pet.


  • Protein 
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats
  • Water
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Calories


As long as pet food contains healthy amounts of these, there’s no need to worry too much about other constituents. 


3. Prioritize Protein

Of the three macronutrients listed above, protein is the most important for your dog’s health. It maintains the strength of their muscles and vital organs, supports their immune system, and keeps their skin and hair healthy.


Most meats are very protein-rich, which is why dogs (as natural carnivores) need so much of it. 


Most meats are very protein-rich, so dogs (as natural carnivores) need much of it. 


Most dog foods are made primarily of meat, so their protein content is typically high. However, it's essential to make sure that your dog gets the appropriate amount for their age and size.


Calculate the amount of protein in your dog's meals as er the label. Make sure this is consistent with the recommended amount for your dog.


4. Know-How to Spot a Bad Deal

There are pet food options that suit every price range. However, some of the more expensive dog foods out there don’t do anything to justify their asking price.


If a product has an inflated price due to branding and marketing, you should steer clear. Nutritional value is your only concern when you’re buying dog food.


One way to save money over the long term is to buy your pet foods in bulk. Generally, the more food you buy at once, the cheaper it will be per pound.


Make sure to check the weight on the dog food label as well as the price. Learn to compare prices per pound, rather than based on just the price tag.


The chances are that you plan to keep your dog around for an indefinite period, so there's no reason to opt for smaller food packets. Experiment to pick food that both you and your dog like, then buy it in bulk.


If you see the term “byproduct” on your dog food label, don’t be alarmed. While some people think the word carries negative connotations, a byproduct is simply food that was made as part of the production process of some other food.


Many byproduct meals contain organ meats, loaded with nutrients. 


5. Nutrients Are More Important Than Ingredients

Dog food companies go to a lot of trouble to advertise the ingredients of their offerings. If you shop around for your food, you’ve likely seen the options containing “grass-fed beef,” or “free-range chicken.”


While it’s important to know that your dog is eating quality food, specific ingredients aren’t usually that important. In truth, dog food ingredients mean a lot more to humans than they do to dogs. 


Instead of scrutinizing the ingredients list, focus on nutrients. Knowing that the food contains the right balance of macronutrients and a healthy amount of calories is far more critical than any consideration about ingredients.


You should also keep in mind that there’s no need to be concerned about the items near the bottom of the ingredients list with complicated names. While they may sound like dangerous chemicals, they’re often essential vitamins and minerals.

6. Don’t Get Hung up on Vitamins.

This tip applies to many products aimed at humans as well as dog food. 


Many expensive "health food" products are loaded with vast amounts of different vitamins, which sound as though they will have wide-ranging health benefits. In truth, however, many of them may be doing little of real value.


This isn't to say that your dog doesn’t need vitamins. They do. 


However, they’ll probably get all they need from most standard dog food brands. Anything extra, in many cases, is likely to be a waste.


Check whether the nutrient profile of the pet food you use has approval from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). If so, there should be no need to add extra vitamins to your pet’s diet. This approval should appear somewhere on the label.


7. Go for Substance, Not Style

As anyone who works in marketing knows, people don’t always buy the things that represent the best value for their money. Many dog food brands use colorful, eye-catching packaging to sell their product, but don’t offer as much nutritional value as other, potentially cheaper brands.


Be wary of products that come with impressive marketing claims. Keep an eye out for words like “natural,” “eco-friendly,” or “premium.” While these sound nice, they may not mean anything in real terms.


You need to know how to spot a product that offers the best value for your pet. This won’t always be one with a powerful slogan or a well-known brand.


Many smaller dog food producers distribute very high-quality food, but might not have a logo that you recognize. They may also cost less than more established competitors.


To learn to find these, you must look at the nutritional content of dog food.


Keeping Your Dog Well-Fed & Healthy in 2020

A healthy dog is a happy dog. If your pup isn't eating quality food that suits it on an individual level, it won't be healthy.


To ensure you feed your dog what they need, you'll need to learn to decipher some of the jargon on the back of their food packaging. With the tips we've listed here, you should be well on your way to doing just that.


If you have any questions about the health of your dog or cat, consult an expert right away.

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