Dog Food Labelling
Pet food labels use anthropomorphised descriptions to appeal to pets’ human owners – broth, pâté, chicken and asparagus, roasted chicken and beef entrée...
The ingredients must be listed in descending order by weight. They can be indicated using category names such as ‘meat and animal derivatives’, or under their own individual names. If particular attention is drawn to a specific ingredient (e.g. ‘With Chicken’), the percentage of that ingredient must also be listed. If the packaging says ‘chicken & rice’, the named meat minimum content must be 26%.
But, if it says ‘rich in’ chicken the minimum must be just 14% and ‘flavoured with’ or simply ‘with’ will contain a bare 4% minimum.
More often than not, on most mainstream brands you’ll see ‘meat and animal derivatives’ listed as the main ingredient. ‘Animal derivatives’ are anything other than the muscle tissue or ‘meat’ and may mean internal organs, bones, poultry heads, feathers, hooves and feet.
Whilst it might seem to make sense to use up these by-products, it also may mean that your pet is not getting the nutrition that it needs.
Cats and dogs need the right amount of protein, the percentage of protein shown as ‘Analytical Constituents’ on the label is, unfortunately, no help, as it includes low-quality indigestible protein.
Look at the ingredients label: if chicken or lamb or identified organs are listed first then they are a good source of protein, but if meat derivatives or byproducts are listed first, they may be a less-good source.
Grains and cereals are another one of those generic sources of proteins that may be high or low quality and are used by many manufacturers as a filler. Other ingredients in pet food may include sugar, salt and artificial colourings, even though dogs, for example, are largely colour blind.
Other words used by pet food companies to communicate to you that their product is ‘good’ in some way can be misleading:
One of the most common words we found on companies’ websites during our research was ‘natural’, which Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) have criticised as being meaningless.
CIWF says, “Chicken labelled as ‘all natural’ can come from factory farms where the animals have been selectively bred to grow so rapidly that their legs become painfully crippled from the weight of their bodies.”
Sign the CIWF petition for honest labelling.