Written by FOTP Team
Did you know one of the reasons we’re called Front of the Pack is because we believe there are too many brands hiding important information on dog food labels? We put everything on the Front of the Pack - no hiding, no ambiguity, just straight forward information up front.
Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same as us. But understanding what’s on the label (and what’s missing) is really important if you want to make sure your dog is getting the best.
It sounds boring but stick with us – learning a bit about food labels will enable you to make better choices about feeding your best pal. Let’s take a look at the layout first.
Under US law, the label on that package of dog food must contain these:
Every dog is different and the needs of a puppy are different to the needs of an adult – breed and sizes will affect their needs too.
Puppies are growing and they need plenty of protein to support muscle development. Vitamins are important but it’s possible for pups to consume too much. For example, larger breeds should not be given too much calcium or vitamin D. The Association of American Feed Control Officials has specified standards for puppies, so look for food that says it meets those standards.
Look for a package labeled “Complete and Balanced”. That means that it contains the 40 essential nutrients. Then check the “Guaranteed Analysis”. This shows the minimum amounts of the key nutrients. Dogs need a high proportion of protein as well as fat, minerals and vitamins.
If you’re keen to give your dog the best, check the brand’s credentials. You can usually find this information online. Consider our checklist for choosing your dog-food supplier:
In the US, pet food should state calorie content on the label. This helps you to make decisions about feeding, and what sort of treats you provide. If your dog is overweight you can choose a lighter or calorie-controlled dog food to help them lose weight without feeling too hungry.
Raw meat has become a popular choice and you can purchase ‘raw’ dog-food which is frozen or dried to preserve the nutritional value of the meat. If you choose a raw meat diet you should be aware that there is an increased risk of Salmonella. Be careful when storing and serving this type of food. It can, however, be a natural and nutritious product when it is manufactured with care. We have an article about this on the blog if you want to learn more about choosing a raw meat diet.
Follow the pack directions – it’s probably wise to start at the lower end of the recommended range for a domestic pet. If your dog is active in sport, agility, or hunting, they will usually need more food. Puppy food is already higher in protein and fat, so (even though they’re very active) you don’t need to feed them extra.
Underestimating your dog’s feeding needs? Your dog will let you know when you’re not giving them enough – they will scavenge for scraps and ask for dinner early! A pregnant or nursing dog also needs more calories – ensure that you choose the right food and that they have eaten enough.
Treats are not “complete and balanced” so they should not form a significant part of your dog’s diet. If you are using them in training, reduce your dog’s feed or (preferably) increase their daily activity to prevent obesity. Remember that reducing the amount of dog food also reduces the nutrients that your dog will be getting and could lead to a deficiency. But a healthy and active dog can enjoy occasional treats!
If you want to defend your dog against developing conditions to which the breed is predisposed (for example, arthritis among Labrador Retrievers), you could add one of our supplements to their food. We’ve done the research and chosen clinically proven ingredients which deliver additional benefits to your dog. Omega-3, Curcurmin, and Krill Oil are all known for their health benefits but not normally included in dog food. Browse our supplement menu to choose the right vitamins for your dog.