How to Read Pet Food Labels Intelligently
Be aware of marketing tactics in naming pet food
The product name is the first thing that anyone notices on any label. The manufacturer wants the customer to feel confidence in their product. By giving the product names like Gourmet XXXX, Premium, Ultra premium etc.ÃÂ the pet owner feels that they're feeding theirÃÂ dog good food. In a lot of casesÃÂ the pet food producerÃÂ also adds a specific ingredient present in theÃÂ food to the name of the product, such as ÃÂLamb and Rice Ultra Premium DogfoodÃÂ etc.
The 70% rule
There are set rules for content of any type of pet food. If we were to look at can ofÃÂ dog food with the product name ÃÂPremium Beef Dog FoodÃÂ, 70% of that can food has to be beef the other 30% will account for water, flavorings, vitamins and minerals etc. Same goes for canned cat food. Since the ingredient list must declare the predominance in the proper order by weight, ÃÂbeefÃÂ should be the first ingredient listed, followed by water, and then other components such as vitamins and minerals.
If the name includes a combination of ingredients, such as ÃÂPremium Beef & Liver Dog FoodÃÂ the two together must comprise 70% of the total weight. The first ingredient named in the product name must be the one of higher predominance in the product. If there is more liver then beef in the product it needs to be named ÃÂPremium Liver and Beef Dog FoodÃÂ.
The 20% rule
Just to complicate matters look at the at least 20% rule. If a named ingredient is at least 20% but less the 70% of the product, the name must have a word like ÃÂdinner, entree, platter, formulaÃÂ included in it. For example, ÃÂGourmet Beef Dinner for DogsÃÂ or ÃÂClassy Beef EntrÃÂ©e for Dogs.ÃÂ On the label beef would most likely be listed only third or fourth on the ingredient list. You will need to do a quick check of the ingredient list because the main ingredient in the ÃÂBeef EntrÃÂ©e for DogsÃÂ may not always be the best choice. Remember since the primary ingredient is not always the prominently named ingredient on the label, it may in fact only be such as beef by-products etc.
The 3% rule
Let's add a 3% ÃÂruleÃÂ just for good measure, in case the 70% and 20% rule has not been enough to get you confused. The dog food label says ÃÂBeef Formula for Dogs with Cheese.ÃÂ That little blurb ÃÂwith CheeseÃÂ will tell you that the ingredient list in the dog food has to include at least 3% cheese.
It is so very important to read the labels carefully. A name such as ÃÂDog Food With BeefÃÂ might seem like good stuff but considering what looks like a minor change in theÃÂ title sure has a major impact on whatÃÂs inside.
i.e. a can of ÃÂDog Food With BeefÃÂ could be confused with a can of ÃÂBeef Dog FoodÃÂ whereas the latter example must contain at least 70% beef; the first needs to have only 3%.
The next example is ÃÂBeef Flavored Dog FoodÃÂ the word flavor does not say in any which way or form that there is any beef in the dog food.
Pet foods often contain ÃÂDigestsÃÂ which are enzyme and/or acid treated substances that form concentrated natural flavors. Only a small amount of this is needed to produce a ÃÂBeef Flavored Dog FoodÃÂ.
Natural does not mean organic
The term ÃÂNaturalÃÂ is often used on pet food labels too. ÃÂNaturalÃÂ in the pet food world can mean that there are no artificial flavors, artificial colors, or artificial preservatives in the product.
ÃÂAll NaturalÃÂ does not mean that the dog food comes from ÃÂorganicÃÂ sources either. There are no regulations in place yet of what types of pesticides, fertilizers and other substances can be present in pet foods and still be to be labeled ÃÂFrom All NaturalÃÂ or ÃÂOrganicÃÂ sources.
The pet food label contains a lot of information, if you know how to read it. Beware of the many eye-catching marketing gimmicks that pet food manufacturerÃÂs use. You, the pet owner have the right to know what youÃÂre feeding your animals. Learn how to READ THE LABELS intelligently.