How to Read Pet Food Labels — Part 3

Dog Food

Guaranteed Analysis & Nutritional Adequacy Statement

According to the FDA, “At minimum, a pet food label must state guarantees for the minimum percentages of crude protein and crude fat, and the maximum percentages of crude fiber and moisture.” These guaratees are only for feeding that follows the package directions.

These percentages also make it hard to compare dry food and wet food. We food has a much higher water content, usually about 75%, while dry food has a water content of around 10%. Because of the higher water content, the percentages in the wet food are lower than those of the dry food, which makes comparing the two much harder. Basically, the only comparison that you can do is in the water content.

Ok, here’s where the math comes in….the FDA gives this information to help you compare the contents of both dry and wet pet food.

The percentage of dry matter of the product is equal to 100% minus the percentage of moisture guaranteed on the label. A dry food is approximately 88-90% dry matter, while a canned food is only about 22-25% dry matter. To convert a nutrient guarantee to a dry matter basis, the percent guarantee should be divided by the percentage of the dry matter, then multiplied by 100. For example, a canned food guarantees 8% crude protein and 75% moisture (or 25% dry matter), while a dry food contains 27% crude protein and 10% moisture (or 90% dry matter). Which has more protein, the dry or canned? Calculating the dry matter protein of both, the canned contains 32% crude protein on a dry matter basis (8/25 X 100 = 32), while the dry has only 30% on a dry matter basis (27/90 X 100 = 30). Thus, although it looks like the dry has a lot more protein, when the water is counted out, the canned actually has a little more. An easier way is to remember that the amount of dry matter in the dry food is about four times the amount in a canned product. To compare guarantees between a dry and canned food, multiply the guarantees for the canned food times four first.

When looking at wet food, remember that it can contain up to 78% or more water, depending on the type of food. So if it contains 78% water, that only leaves 22% left for nutrients, meat, etc.

Nutritional Adequacy Statement

The nutrition adequacy statement basically says that this type of food is approved to be a sole nutrition provider, which means, your pet can use this food as its main diet source. This statement will also tell you which life stage that it is approved for, such as kitten/puppy or senior formula.

Stay tuned for feeding directions and more…


2 thoughts on “How to Read Pet Food Labels — Part 3

  1. Thanks for the detailed information.Usually i used to feed my pet with both natural food and dry and wet food.Used to provide them in regular intervals.But want to know more about feeding directions.How to provide all nutrients in their daily food.Waiting for more articles.Cheers.

  2. Franklin Ellyson says:

    Why is it that all the dog foods give you the minimum amounts of protein and fat but they do not give the maximum?

    I have call the dog food companies and the answers that they gave me were 5 to 7 time higher in protein and fat than what is listed on the bag or the can.

    What do you believe and who can you believe?

    Really makes you wonder what the hell is going on!

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