Does Commercial Dog Food Scare You?

There are eight things required by law on a canned dog food label. The front label must contain the brand and product name, species for which the food is intended, and the quantity statement (how much is in the can). The next five requirements may appear on the back or back and side labels.

Many consumers don’t think very critically when it comes to the front label. If they see beautiful roasted chickens or grilled steaks, and fresh-scrubbed carrots or glistening apples, they may imagine that’s what’s in the food. But you really have to compare the art with the ingredients list.

What’s far more important than the pictures is the verbiage used on the front. If the name of an ingredient is used in the product name (such as “Chicken & Rice Formula”), that named ingredients must comprise at least 70% of the total product by weight and at least 95% of the product not counting added water in the food. When more than one ingredient is in the name, no ingredient can be less than 3% the total product by weight. Because chicken is listed first in the name, there must be more chicken than rice in the recipe.

When the words “dinner,” “platter,” and “entrée” are used, a different rule is at work. The named ingredient in the phrase (for example, the “beef” in “Beef Dinner”) must comprise a minimum of 25% of the total ingredients.

If the word “with” is used (e.g., “Billy’s Dog Food With Chicken and Eggs”) the food is required to contain at least 3% of each named ingredient.

And if the word “flavor” is used, the requirement is that the food simply contain something that could convey that flavor; there is no minimum amount required.


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