How to Read Dog Food Labels

We dog care givers are now somewhat protected against misleading dog food labels. That’s because of the oversight, rules, regulations and requirements of AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials). But, unless we know what these rules are and how they are applied to the wording on labels they’re of no use to us.

Some dog food manufacturers can be quite devious and will often use very clever nuances in the title and also in arrangement of words on the label that can be very different to what the dog food actually contains. Also, there is an important component to this, these rules relate just to solid material in the dog food and do not address the moisture levels.

It should be noted that pet food labeling is regulated on a federal and state-by-state basis, with only “limited” guidance from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Please be aware of the fact that pet food producers often use terms that are undefined by the regulations to communicate more effectively with consumers and to enhance their product’s image in the market. The AAFCO warns on their website that “it is not rare at all that labeling and marketing information is designed to appeal to the latest trend in marketing human products.”

WHAT ARE THE RULES FOR WORDING?

*Chicken for Dogs: If chicken is the first word in this label, and is not combined with any other words like “dinner” or “flavor”, etc.; in order to meet the AAFCO regulations, this product must actually contain at least 95% chicken.

*Turkey and Chicken Dog Food: By labeling it” Turkey and Chicken Dog Food”, and nothing else, you can be relatively certain that this product is made up of 95% turkey and chicken combined, with the chicken content being slightly less than the turkey, since turkey is listed as the first ingredient.

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