Understanding what’s in your pet’s food allows you to make informed choices about their diet, particularly if your vet has recommended a specific diet to complement treatment or any health conditions.
Here is our guide to understanding food labels.
How is the ingredient list organized?
Ingredients are listed by weight, with the heaviest components listed first.
Typically, meat is at the top, but this is generally because about 75% of the meat contains water, unless it’s a “meat meal”, where most of the water and fat have been extracted to make the protein more concentrated.
Should I be concerned about foods that contain “byproducts”?
People often think that byproducts are not good for consumption, but the word itself is actually just a way of referring to the meat that isn’t normally intended to be used as food. As humans, we have developed food preferences. Animals are far less discerning. For example, livers are normally considered to be byproducts, but they are actually a rich source of vitamin A. It’s important to remember that certain byproducts are not generally accepted in pet food, such as hair, teeth, hooves, or horns.
Why does the food label include lots of chemicals?
Manufacturers use certain preservatives, artificial colors, and stabilizers in pet food to prolong shelf-life, make the food more appealing in appearance, and ensure that the food retains its structure (i.e. so that the ingredients don’t separate). It’s a requirement that manufacturers list the ingredients they add during processing.
How can I make sure the food meets my pet’s needs?
Choosing a pet food brand that actively undertakes research into its formulations, and provides a range of dietary options according to nutritional requirements, lifestyle, breed, and lifestage, is a good place to start.
We stock Royal Canin and Hill’s Nutrition (EX. Mainland China) in our clinics and they provide a very comprehensive range of foods designed to provide your dog with the nutrients they require.
Prescription diets may also be recommended by your veterinarian when needed.
What do “natural” and “holistic” labels mean?
Labels such as natural, holistic, and organic don’t have a specific meaning, in reality.
Generally speaking, “natural” or “organic” labelling suggests that very few (if any) chemicals have been added to the food during processing.
“Holistic” has no specific definition and is used in marketing to convey superior quality, but it has no scientific or nutritional basis.