Pet Food Labels: What they tell you.
The labels used on pet food products gives you the general information about the ingredients used in the product and in what quantities. This information supplied is required by law and you will find this on all pet feed labels. The ingredients are listed in descending order with the most used ingredient listed at the top. These labels also provide you with the nutrient analysis, feeding information and sometimes the key benefits of the product along with the manufacturer details.
There are usually 2 kinds of additives used when producing animal food products. These include ingredients such as vitamin A,E and B along with Iron, calcium and various amino acids. These are added to ensure the food is well rounded and nutritionally balanced.
On the other hand ingredients like BHA, ethoxyquin , BHT or mixed tocopherols are added at very low levels as antioxidants in order to prevent the ingredients going off and becoming inedible . These antioxidants have been approved for use in pet foods and human foods by the (FDA) and the (EU). Other Preservatives like potassium sorbate and sorbic acid are added to some wet pet foods in order to stop spoilage. Again these ingredients are approved and certified safe for both pet foods and human food products.
Furthermore specific flavourings are also included in order to help make pet foods more appetising to cats and dogs. Some may be listed as artificial flavour or natural flavours. Ingredients such as onion, garlic, yucca and rosemary can also sometimes be used.
Artificial colours are also sometimes used in cheaper dog foods at very low levels in order to give the product a more attractive and consistent appearance and/or to distinguish between flavours used in the same product. Colours used in pet foods are the exact same as those used in human foods and have been approved by the EU and FDA.
General Feeding Guide
Pet feed labels should also point to whether or not the product is a complete balanced food or whether it is a food supplement. It should also specify what life stage(s) the product is aimed at, such as Puppy, adult or senior.
Instructions regarding the amount to food you should feed your pet should also be included on the label. These directions are a 'rule of thumb' and a general guide. You only really get an idea as to the amount needed by trial and error, as all dogs are different in terms of activity levels, metabolic rate etc.