Understanding Pet Food Labels

Understanding Pet Food Labels

With so many new and emerging pet foods on the market, it can become overwhelming when you’re trying to decide which is the best food to suit your pet. We have put together some key factors to look for when researching pet food that we call – Check the Deck.

1. Ingredients List
Every brand of pet food is required to have their ingredients listed on the packaging in order by weight, this will tell you the proportion of each of the ingredients in descending order by the weight of the ingredient prior to the cooking process. The first ingredient listed is the one that is considered to have contributed the largest amount, and the last ingredient listed contributed the least. When reading an ingredients list, the first three ingredients make up the largest proportion of the recipe and are therefore the most important. Generally, high-quality pet foods will have the main protein source listed in the first 3 ingredients.

2. By-Products
When reading through the ingredient list on your pet food, you will notice there are different types of meats mentioned, either “meals” or “by-products”. When a recipe mentions a ‘meal’ such as chicken meal, lamb meal or turkey meal, it means that the meats used are a high-quality protein source that contains only muscle meat and a small percentage of bone (the bone fraction contains rich sources of calcium and phosphorus) and by law, meals may not contain heads, feet, or intestines.

Meat ‘by-products’ contain a variety of parts including heads, feet and intestines, and the only part of the animal which cannot be included in ‘by-products’ is feathers. When looking through an ingredients list, try and find a recipe that uses fresh meat first as well as meat meals, as they provide a consistent source of protein for your pet, indicating a higher quality kibble.

3. Individual Ingredients
For some ingredients to appear higher on an ingredients list than they actually are, some companies group common ingredients into a subcategory, so are listed higher up. This is called “grouping” and can be seen as ingredients being generalised and listed into groups such as ‘cereals and cereal by-products’, ‘meat and/or meat by-products’, and ‘vitamins and minerals’. When an ingredient is listed this way, it is unclear as to what the actual ingredients are.

In Wellness Pet Food recipes, every ingredient is listed as singular items in order of predominance by weight, not in groups. Listing our ingredients singularly ensures that our recipes remain consistent and provide constant nutritional values throughout every batch we make!

4. Guaranteed Analysis vs. Typical Analysis
Using a Guaranteed Analysis on the packaging of all Wellness products means that we are guaranteeing the nutrient profile to provide the minimum and maximum levels of protein, fat, fibre, vitamins, minerals, glucosamine and pre and probiotics. Compared to a Typical Analysis, which refers to these levels being typical, are not a true representation of what can be found within the food. A Guaranteed Analysis represents the gold standard in pet food.

5. Complete & Balanced
At Wellness, we hold ourselves to the strictest quality standards when it comes to sourcing our ingredients, manufacturing our foods, and labelling or our products. As we strive to exceed the expectations of the industry and craft the best natural food for our pets, we look to AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) to guide our decision-making when it comes to formulating and labelling our products.

AAFCO guidelines as a whole help define which pet foods are “complete & balanced” versus “intended for supplemental feeding only”. Complete & Balanced products are those that meet all the daily calorie and nutrient requirements of your pet and can therefore be fed alone without concern for nutrient deficiencies. Foods that are “intended for supplemental feeding only” – such as treats and toppers – do not contain all the nutrients that your pet needs for optimal health and therefore must be fed along with other foods to ensure your pet gets all the calories and nutrients that they require.

6. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
All recipes across our Wellness cat and dog food ranges are covered by our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. This means that if your pet doesn’t love a recipe, simply return it to your place of purchase to receive a full refund or to exchange for another recipe to try! Guaranteed!

Providing a Satisfaction Guarantee on our recipes also provides owners time to properly transition their pets safely, minimising potential stomach upsets. We encourage this with any change in your pet’s diet.

If you’re ever unsure of what a certain ingredient is or what it is used for, you can search our Ingredients Dictionary for an explanation of ingredients used in our Wellness recipes.