Deciphering dog food labels

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We all want to give our beloved dogs the very best nutrition we can, but when faced with the display of dog food on offer, it can be a little daunting to know which to choose.

Understanding the label on your dog food is an easy way to assess the quality of the product.

Guaranteed/typical analysis

The guaranteed/typical analysis lists the minimum or maximum levels of specific nutrients provided in the food.

How the ingredient list works

All the ingredients used in the food must be listed in order of weight.  The ingredients can be specified or group in accordance to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry requirements. This gives a good indication of the quality of the food.

Common ingredients and what they mean

  • Meat: Flesh of animals, including chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, etc.
  • Meat by-products: The clean parts of animals. including lungs, spleen, kidneys, liver, blood, bone, and stomach and intestines. It doesn’t include hair, horns, teeth, or hooves.
  • Poultry by-products: Include heads, feet, and internal organs, like heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, abdomen, and intestines.
  • Fish meal: The clean ground tissue of whole fish or fish cuttings, with or without the oil extracted.
  • Beef tallow: Beef fat.
  • Ground corn: Maize meal or “mielie pitte”.
  • Corn gluten meal: The by-product after the manufacture of corn syrup or starch, and the dried residue after the removal of the bran, germ, and starch.
  • Brewers’ rice: Small fragments of rice kernels that have been separated from larger kernels of milled rice.
  • Soybean meal: A by-product of the production of soybean oil.
  • BHA: Butylated hydroxyanisole – a preservative.
  • Tocopherols: Naturally occurring compounds used as natural preservatives, e.g. Vitamin E.

Quality standards to look for

AFMA standards: The Animal Feed Manufacturing Association (AFMA) of South Africa is a member of the International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF) and is responsible for implementing internationally acknowledged quality standards, programmes and Code of Practice.

FSSC 22000 certified: If a dog food is FSSC 22000 certified, it means that the company’s Food Safety Management Systems conform to global standards for hygiene, safety, processing and manufacture.