How to Read Dog Food Labels

how to read dog food labelsDo you read dog food labels? Do you know what are you feeding your dog?  Many pet parents are under the false impression that all prepackaged dog foods that are labeled “natural” are really natural.  That’s a dangerous assumption and could be to the detriment of your dog.  Learning how to read dog food labels is not only in the best interest of your dog but it’s your responsibility as your pet’s guardian and most faithful friend.

Learning how to read dog food labels:

Dogs need protein.  Protein should be one of the first three ingredients listed on the label.   Meat is one such source of protein.  Chicken, turkey, and beef are all common ingredients in packaged dog foods but proceed with caution.  The best meat should be organic and human-grade meat.  What’s good for you, is good for your dog.  Avoid all by-products.  Would you want feathers or hair in your dinner?  I think not.  Additionally, avoid any meat ingredients followed by “meal”.  Fish meal, poultry meal and beef meal are all subpar, low quality animal products.  Just say no.

Dogs need oils and fats.  Fats and oils and necessary for developing brains and provide your dog with optimal skin and coat health.  A shiny coat indicates your dog is enjoying a quality diet.  Not all fats are healthy thought.  You should look for a high percentage of omega – 3 and a lower percentage of omega-6 fatty acids.  Animal fat and vegetable oils should be left out of your dog’s diet.

Dogs need vegetables and carbohydrates.  Whole fruits and vegetables are essential.   Whole ground grains such as oats, barley, rice and millet are all acceptable sources of grains.  Keep in mind that dogs have issues digesting carbs so, you’re best to avoid processed grains or go grain-free altogether.   Corn is a big no- no and should definitely NOT be part of our dog’s diet.  It lacks nutritional value and many dogs have allergies to corn and corn fragments.

Next time you run to the pet store to grab that bag of dog food, be sure to read the label.  Learning how to read dog food labels is essential. Remember the old phrase “garbage in, garbage out”?  Well, this applies to your dog’s diet as well.  Standards governing what goes into your dog’s food would surprise you.  Inform yourself.  Your dog will thank you with many years of love and companionship.

This chart will assist you in learning how to read a dog food label.

how to read a dog food labels


  1. This is such a great post, must of us don’t know exactly what our pets need as far as nutritional support, let alone how to figure out if the food your feeding is providing what our pets need.

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