Pet Food Labels: Marketing and Product Claims

pet food labels


You’ve heard the saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover.  Well, you can’t judge pet food from the packaging.  Reading pet food labels can be confusing, especially if you don’t understand the lingo.  Dr. Anna Coffin will unravel the mystery of pet food labels and try to dispel many myths and mysteries about pet food packaging.




Pet food labels claim:

Premium, super-premium, or gourmet:  These label claims are not required to contain higher quality ingredients.  The word premium on a pet food label might just be a marketing ploy to get you to pay a premium price.

Natural:  This label claim assumes that the product does not contain artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.  Natural should be easy to verify by looking at the label.  Natural pet food labels are not required to contain higher quality ingredients.

Organic:  There is currently no official rule governing the use of the word organic in pet foods.  Any manufacturer can put organic on the label, and they don’t have to prove that it is organic.

What’s in a pet food name?

If an ingredient is used in the name of the pet food, at least 95% of that product must be that ingredient.  It should also be the first ingredient on the pet food label.  Example:  Chicken Dog Food will contain 95% chicken.

If the name contains a combination of ingredients, then the two ingredients must total 95% of the product.  The ingredient named first has a higher percentage than the second.  Example:  Fish and Liver Cat Food will contain a combination of fish and liver that total 95% of the ingredients.  This rule only counts if the ingredients are of animal origin.

Pet foods using dinner, entrée, nuggets or formula in the name must contain 25% of the named ingredient.  Example:  Beef dinner for dogs must contain at least 25% beef in the product.  It should be the third or fourth ingredient on the pet food label.

The dinner rule includes all ingredients no matter if they are animal or plant origin.  If the name is Lamb and Rice Dog Food, then lamb and rice must equal a combined 25%.  However, the second ingredient only has to equal up to 3% of that total.

A pet food name that includes “with” in the label only has to contain 3% of the ingredient that follows the word with.  Example:  Cat Food with Tuna only has to contain 3% tuna.  Compare this to Tuna Cat Food which must contain 95% tuna!

It’s alright to be a little skeptical about pet food labels.  What you feed your pet helps maintain their health and vitality.  If you are confused by something on your pet food label, contact Guthrie Pet Hospital, we have trained professional that know about pet nutrition.  Stay tuned for more information on pet food labels.

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