How To Read A Dog Food Label

Selecting the best food for your dog can be stressful and time-consuming. What kind of food should you get — Kibble? Raw? Wet? Following that, you have to sort through hundreds of brands, and unfortunately, unless you know how to read a pet food label, packaging won't be much help in making your decision. That's why we've put together this crash course with four key things to do when looking at pet food labels: 

  1. Look at the order of ingredients.

  2. Determine whether any ingredients have been split. 

  3. Try pronouncing the last five ingredients. 

  4. Check out the meat quality. 

Learning how to analyze the ingredient list and determining the quality of a product by reading the label can be extremely helpful for owners trying to purchase only the best for their dog. We know the power that pet food can have on a dog's life, both now and in the long-term, which is why we think all owners should learn about these four steps. 

1. Order Of Ingredients

portland pet food company grocery shopping bag meal pouches

Just like human food, pet food labels list the most prominent ingredients first. So, if you see “chicken broth” as the first ingredient and “chicken” listed later in the list, you should know that the product is primarily made up of broth. Look for foods that list a quality meat source first, as dogs need a lot of protein to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.

2. Ingredient Splitting

As you scan the ingredient list, note whether any foods seem to be mentioned multiple times throughout -- they may be called something different each time, such as corn, corn meal, etc. Manufacturers do this so that they are able to list protein as the first ingredient, when in reality, there is likely more corn than anything else. This is one of the most important things to look out for!

3. Try Pronouncing The Ingredients

If a label lists a handful of ingredients that you know, followed by a longer list of words you can't pronounce, that product is probably not of the highest quality. Take it a step further and search one of those ingredients online -- you'll probably find that it's not the best for your pooch. 

At Portland Pet Food Company, our motto is "if you can't pronounce it and don't know what it is, why would you feed it to your best friend?" In fact, quinoa is probably the only word you'll struggle to pronounce in our products!

4. Is It Really Meat? 

According to the AAFCO, meat is classified as the “clean flesh of slaughtered mammals and is limited to… striated muscle...with or without the accompanying and overlaying fat and portions of the skin, sinew, nerve and blood vessels that accompany the flesh."

Meat meal is classified as “the rendered product from mammal tissues.” While meat meal can be high quality, it's generally more processed and may contain parts of the animal that are less than desirable.

Which should you feed your pet? The answer is to always do careful research on the product you’re interested in and consult your vet. In the meantime, we can guarantee that your dog is getting premium human-grade meat and produce intended for sale to humans. We use only chicken thighs, turkey legs or breast, pork loin, and ground premium beef. 

At Portland Pet Food Company, we make healthy, natural dog treats and fresh, natural dog food toppers. Our dog treats and toppings are especially good for senior dogs and dogs who are picky eaters. Gluten-free options are available in our dog treats and dog food toppings. We also offer a fresh dog food subscription, delivered to your home.