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Deciphering Nutrition Labels for Pets

Pet Food Labels are regulated at two levels.

Federal regulations are established by the  Food and Drug Administration  (FDA) and are applicable to all animal food to include the following information; proper identification of a product, net quantity statement, information about the manufacturer such as name and address and the list of ingredients

Many US states have also adopted pet food regulations established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials  (AAFCO). The AAFCO model is much more detailed than Federal regulations and includes information such as the product name, guaranteed analysis, nutritional adequacy statement, feeding directions, and calorie statements.

Treats are an exception to the regulations of the AAFCO model. Treats are not considered a complete and balanced diet on their own. For this reason, the AAFCO does not require that pet treats meet standard nutritional adequacy requirements, provided the product’s packaging clearly displays the term “snack” or “treat” on its packaging.

What’s on Nutrition Label

1.     Product Name

The product name of a pet food indicates the kind of ingredient present in the formula. For instance, pet foods made from cow meats usually carry the name “beef formula”.  More so, such a food must contain 25% of the named ingredient. The name can also reflect the stage of life of such as Adult, or Puppy.

Note that if the meat is first on the list, it’s likely the meat is about 75% water.

2.     Net quantity

The net quantity of a pet food indicates the exact amount of the product in the container.

3.     Manufacturer’s Name and Address

A pet nutrition label must also contain the name and address of the manufacturer. By law, it is not compulsory for all labels to contain the city, state, and zip code of the manufacturer. However, this information must be included in a telephone or online directory. These details are important especially for users to identify who is responsible for the safety of the product and where to channel their complaints/inquiries.

4.     Ingredient List

Manufacturers are expected to list all their ingredients in the order of predominance by weight before processing. The ingredient with the most weight is listed at the top and the list is arranged top-to-down according to their weight.

5.     Guaranteed Analysis

Pet food products require minimum critical nutritional guarantees of crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber, and moisture.

The term “crude” refers to the specific method of testing the product, not to the quality of the nutrient itself

6.     Nutritional Adequacy Statement

This shows the nutrient profiles for dogs, the minimum and maximum requirements of essential nutrients such as amino acids, vitamins and minerals.

7.     Feeding Directions

A pet label also gives information on how to feed your pets based on their weight. The label also addresses the appropriate food dosage for each life stage of pets. Note these are general guidelines, contact you vet for specifics.

8.     Calorie Statement

Pet foods have different calorie content. Even, foods of the same type and ingredient have different calorie content.


A pet nutrition label contains essential information about the particular food. That information includes Product Name, Net Quantity Statement, Manufacturer’s Name and Address, Ingredient List, Guaranteed Analysis, Nutritional Adequacy Statement, Feeding Directions, and Calorie Statement.

Is there anything in this article you didn’t know? Is there anything else you would want to know? Which part interests you most? Share your views in the comment box below.


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