How to Read Pet Food Labels

When you realise how slippery those suckers are who create pet food formulations and pet food ingredients labels, you’ll start to realise how fooled you have been.

I don’t normally give away my secrets, but for the sake of helping you make better choices for your dog and cat you can consider this your go to guide. Hopefully the information below will help you understand what’s really in your pet food, which will be a springboard to feeding them a better diet and improving their health and wellbeing.

How can you feed your pet a nutritious diet if you don’t know what you’re feeding them?

And if you don’t know what you’re feeding them, you’re probably not feeding them a very good pet food.

I’ll go into a lot of depth in this guide, but if at any point you want to bail out, then simply skip to the reviews.

Also, keep in mind pet food labels will only give you a guideline, they won’t tell you much else.

For example, “chicken” from one manufacturer might be top quality chicken processed in a hygienic human-grade food production facility. Another brand may use chicken waste left in the yard collecting flies and maggots in the hot sun.

These factors are reflected in the reviews, whether I mention them or not. Having run this website for many years I have accumulated a great deal of information on pet food manufacturers, from pet food insiders, or from reports from pet owners like yourself. I have also visited some facilities, and dealt with many people in the industry.

Some of the information on this guide is relevant to the Australian Standard of Manufacturing and marketing of pet food, of which you would need to pay over $100 for the privilege of reading (that’s transparency for you!).

Some of the information is relevant to the standards in place by AAFCO: The Association of American Feed Control Officials, which is often used as a fallback in Australia due to not really having our own standards.

This guide to reading pet food labels will cover the following:

Introduction to pet food labels

The importance of understanding what you’re feeding your pet

Understanding the ingredients list

Percentages and order of ingredients

Identifying key ingredients to look for or avoid

How to recognise problematic ingredients (common allergens or potentially harmful additives)

Pay attention to ambiguous ingredients

Using the analysis and composition to determine key ingredients

Guaranteed analysis vs Typical analysis (minimum and maximum values)

Nutritional components and their significance (protein, fat, carbohydrates, moisture, ash, fibre)

Assessing key ingredients to determine how nutrition is met

Meat based vs plant based proteins and fats

Feeding guidelines

Understanding the purpose of feeding guidelines to better understand their relevance to your pet

Considering ingredients, dietary needs, health conditions, and exercise – it’s not just about portion size

Understanding specialised claims (natural, organic, grain-free, hypoallergenic, limited ingredient, human grade etc)

Evaluating the accuracy of these claims

How to be cautious of marketing tactics and misleading information

Determining the manufacturer or brand

The importance of due diligence, consumer feedback, and reviews

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  1. Hi there! Am I missing a link or is this post currently incomplete?

    • Reply
      Pet Food Reviews (Australia) November 22, 2023 at 8:16 pm

      Hi Hayley, you’re not missing anything – it’s long overdue completion!

      Sorry! I will get around to finishing it….

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