How to Read a Dog Food Nutrition Label

How to Read a Dog Food Nutrition Label

We read and pay attention to nutrition for ourselves — shouldn't we be doing the same for our dogs? After all, they are part of the family. Some dog food labels try to hide information in the nutrition info and fine print that you might want to be aware of. Get the most out of your dog's food by knowing how to read dog food ingredient labels. These tips on ingredients, product names and fine print can help you understand dog food nutrition facts better.


When looking at ingredients, protein, fat, fiber and water are the most critical, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires dog food labels to show percentages for these nutrients. Your state may have additional minimum requirements. Ingredients listed on dog food labels are in order by weight and use common listing names to ensure the credibility of the ingredient. Manufacturers take these weight measurements before processing, so the weight will be higher than the actual figure, due to water. Byproducts are also a topic of conversion, but it is all up to your preference for your dog. Byproducts can include liver, brains, stomachs and cleaned intestines. Most veterinarians say feeding dogs byproducts is a matter of choice and most dogs like them.

Great Vitamins for Dogs

Look for these vitamins on your dog food label:
  • Vitamin A improves vision.
  • Vitamin B1 converts carbohydrates into energy.
  • Vitamin B4 helps liver and brain functions.
  • Vitamin B7 improves skin and coat.
  • Vitamin B3 helps digestive enzyme functions.

What to Know About Names of Products

There are many rules and regulations about what brands can and cannot list on a nutrition label. So paying attention to product names is a good place to start learning how to read a dog food label.
  • 95% Rule: The named ingredient must be at least 95% of the product. For instance, if a product is called "Beef Dog Food," it must contain at least 95% beef.
  • 25% Rule: If the word "dinner," "entree" or "platter" follows the name of the ingredient, this means that at least 25% of that food contains that ingredient. For example, dog food called "Salmon Platter" contains between 25% and 95% salmon.
  • "With" Rule: If the name includes "with" before the named ingredient, the food contains at least 3% of that ingredient. For example, "Dog Dinner with Chicken" contains at least 3% chicken.

What to Look for in the Fine Print

Always check the fine print when looking at dog food for anything that might stand out. Generally, the terms and statements on the packages are true and accurate. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) determines which foods meet standards of balanced nutrition for dogs. Also, there are food options that are dedicated to dogs in particular life stages. This ensures that they are getting the correct about of nutrition for their age.

Reach out to Golden Meadows Retrievers

Reading dog food nutrition labels can sometimes be overwhelming and stressful, but with a better understanding of the information, you can find the best food for your dog. If you're interested in adding a dog to your family, consider Golden Meadows Retrievers. Contact us for more information about our Golden Retriever puppies today!

How to Read a Dog Food Nutrition Label