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Understanding the Dog Food Label

Fromm Family Foods
Fromm Four-Star Nutritionals Grain-Free Salmon Tunalini for Dogs
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No doubt you read the labels on foods you eat. The labels contain basic information about the item, including its calories, nutrient content, and ingredients. Dog food labels are no different, and you should be able to explain what they mean to your customers.

Pet foods are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine and must contain certain information on their labels. Following is a breakdown of that info:

  • Feeding instructions: The feeding instructions gives guidelines for how much to feed a dog based on its weight. If it’s a diet is formulated for puppies, it will give feeding instructions based on age, too. Sometimes, it will include information about when and how often the pet owner should feed her dog.
  • Guaranteed analysis: The guaranteed analysis breaks down by percentage what nutrients are in the food. It lists minimum levels of crude protein and crude fat, and maximum levels of crude fiber and moisture. It also includes percentages or measurements of additives, vitamins and minerals.
  • Ingredients: The ingredients, or what the actual foods are in the formula’s contents, are listed in descending order by amount. Often, a form of protein appears first in line, followed by grains, fats, additives and preservatives.
  • Nutritional adequacy statement: The nutritional adequacy statement says whether the food provides complete balanced nutrition for a dog based on nutritional levels established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The statement also provides a life- stage claim, which states the life stage (puppy, adult, senior growth/lactation, maintenance, or all life stages) for which the food is intended.
  • AAFCO has developed two nutrient profiles for dogs: growth/lactation and maintenance. All foods must meet at least one of these profiles. Some labels claim the food is intended for all life stages. Those foods provide enough nutrients for an animal’s growth and reproduction, as well as for maintaining a healthy adult.
  • Manufacturer’s contact information: The contact information of the manufacturer, packer or distributor. A name and address of the manufacturer, packer or distributor are required; sometimes manufacturers include a toll-free phone number or Web site address, but these are not mandatory.

If you can help your customers read and understand their dog’s food label, you’ll give them the skills to choose the best diet for their pet. Start a dialogue with your customers. Point out the benefits of a quality diet. The dog owners will appreciate it--and so will their pets. <HOME>

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Your statement "ingredients . . . are listed in descending order by amount. Often, a form of protein appears first in line, followed by grains, fats, additives and preservatives" is a perfect example of how your "articles" obscure accurate information in an attempt to keep your advertisers happy. If this was a genuine article about understanding food labels so that customers could make INFORMED choices, you would have been clear that the "amount" is by weight, and that many manufacturers list a whole meat source first (loaded with water weight) which sounds better to an uninformed customer than "meal" (i.e. "chicken" vs "chicken meal") when in fact the latter is more nutrient rich. You would have taken this opportunity to tell the reader that anytime a "whole meat" protien source is listed first, it should be quickly followed by a "meal" source, with a specific protein source (chicken, veal, etc). You would have explained what "by products" actually are. You would have also explained the benefits and difference of fats that are vegetable, or specifically sourced (i.e. "chicken fat) vs "animal fat". Instead this is a thinly disguised cover-up for the manufacturers of sub-standard food, under the heading of information. The worst kind of "journalism".
Bonnie, Washinton, DC
Posted: 1/13/2012 3:17:36 AM
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