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Understanding Dog Food Labels

Understanding dog food labels goes beyond the simple questions of wet or dry food, chicken or beef flavor. It is important to know what ingredients are being used in your dog’s food and what nutrients are being supplied. As with human food, the easier the label is to read and the more recognizable the ingredients, the healthier the food usually is.

Ingredients are listed on dog food labels the same way they are on human food labels: in order of weight. Therefore, you want to be sure that not only can you identify the items listed first on the ingredients, but also that these are things you want your dog to be eating. Be aware that some form of meat should always be the first item listed, and that “meat by-products” are not the same thing as meat. Meat by-products include intestines such as the lungs and spleen, as well as blood and bones of slaughtered animals. Fillers and meat by-products are not only not as healthy for your dog as meat, they are often less filling. Ideally, you want to be able to recognize the majority of the items listed on the ingredients. The fewer things with scary-sounding complex chemical names, the better the food will be for your dog.