The Five Most Important Items on a Dog Food Ingredients List


Dog Food Shopper
Imagine… by the end of this article you’re able to consistently identify a superior dog food… all because you’ve learned a simple rule that can narrow an extraordinarily long list of ingredients (sometimes containing a hundred items… or more) down to just five.

Now, not to be overly dramatic… but these items are probably the most important ones you’ll ever find on any dog food ingredients list.

Want to know what they are?

Easy.  They’re simply the first five items on every list.  That’s it.

You see, dog food manufactures are required by federal law to list all of a product’s ingredients in descending order of their pre-cooking weights.

And that automatically… and mathematically… makes the first few the most abundant items anywhere in a product.

Now, since companies rarely divulge the actual amount of each ingredient in a dog food, the consumer is left to try to figure out the proportional break-down for herself.

And I can assure you… that’s no easy thing to do!

Trying to make heads or tails of a dog food’s proportional content is nothing less than a game… a game of odds and probabilities.

Why Five… and Not Six?

I already know what you’re thinking.  Why the first five items?  Why not the first six… or seven?

When looking for an answer to this question, one of the more intriguing ideas I found suggested that all the initial ingredients up to and including the first added fat be considered “the main ingredients”.

I must congratulate Sabine Contreras of The Dog Food Project for this original and thoughtful idea.

So, don’t get hung up on the number “five”.

When evaluating any dog food… you’re always looking for a high quality, digestible meat-based protein… as close to the top of the list as possible.

So, if you haven’t found quality protein in those first few ingredients… whatever the number… it’s game over for that dog food.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Valuable Ingredient… or Nutritional Window Dressing

With the possible exception of nutritional additives… like vitamins and minerals… the further down the list you find an ingredient… the less it contributes to the overall quality of the food.

For example, when you see sweet potatoes at position #12… don’t be too impressed.  From a nutritional standpoint, items located that far down a list should probably be considered little more than “window dressing”.

To keep things simple, here’s a rule of thumb that can help you more consistently identify superior dog food…

The first few items on any dog food ingredients list tend to be the most important

Simple enough.

To learn more about using these priority ingredients to screen for quality be sure to read my article… The One Crucial Piece of Information Dog Food Companies Willfully Conceal.

  • Jerry Sue Martin

    Thanks’ Storm’s Mom. I will stay away from Chicken and grains and search your website above. I am on a food named “Professional Lamb and Rice”. Amber has changed to this after her puppy food and trying other foods. As a pup she didn’t bother her hindquarters. I have changed food several times trying to figure this out. Thanks again for the site – I’ll try to find something for her. My other Golden doesn’t have this problem. Any other ideas would be very appreciated. Thanks again.

  • mfulton7

    I posted over on the large breed forum but thought I may be able to get some feedback over here as well. Ive had my Doberman pup (14wks) , shihpoo pup and chi on Earthborn Holistic Coastal Catch for 4-5wks now. The dobie and shihpoo are having room clearing gas and the dobie has loose stools off and on. We had them on the Zignature Trout before this and the dobie had loose stools with that as well. So Im thinking a food intolerance? What other budget friendly foods can/should we try?

  • Storm’s Mom

    What are you currently feeding now? I would suggest staying away from both chicken and grains, as both are common allergens. Check out foods on this list of “best grain free dog foods”:

    I would suggest taking it to your local store(s) to see what’s available and in your price range… if you’re willing to order online it opens up a lot more options (unless you’re not in the US).

  • Jerry Sue Martin

    My Golden has an allergy to something(I am guessing) is in her dog food. She is not letting her hindquarter coat grow out and they appear to have chew marks on them. Her coat on her hindquarters is very blotchy and short. I have heard of gluten free cat food for cats that have problems with their food. There coats look much better and the cats are very healthy. Is there a food that is gluten free possibly that can help get my dogs coat on her hindquarters free of itching? Thank you so much!

  • Hound Dog Mom

    If you’re looking for a budget friendly dry food I’d recommend Whole Earth Farms, NutriSource, Fromm Classic, Victor, Eagle Pack, Pro Pack, Healthwise, Earthborn, Sportmix Wholesomes, 4Health Grain-Free (available at Tractor Supply) or Pure Balance (available at Walmart). All of these foods are rated at least 3.5 stars and under $50 for the largest bag. Many can be found online.

  • so tired of searching

    Can anyone tell me the best dog food to feed a great dane , that will leave me money to also feed my kids! And that is available to the southern usa states?

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  • Pattyvaughn

    When Storm’s Mom says any animal, she doesn’t mean it might be beef or it might be chicken, she means it might be diseased or died a while before being made into dog food or in some other way be harmful to your dog.

  • Storm’s Mom

    Yes, as long as it’s a named meal (ie “salmon meal”, “chicken meal”, etc). You don’t want to buy a food with “meat and bone meal” for example, because that meat and bone could’ve come from ANY animal. Ideally, you want a food with more than one named meat meal in the first 5 ingredients.

  • Pattyvaughn

    This is so wrong!! Senior dogs are less able to extract the protein from their food, as much as 50% less, but they still have the same protein requirement as an adult dog. They need high quality protein and plenty of it.
    They started decreasing protein in senior foods because of an erroneous belief that it would speed the demise of the kidneys in senior dogs, but they have proved that this is not the case. Please feed your senior dogs a quality food.

  • Zyro W

    It depends on the age of your dog. For puppies, it’s advisable to fed them sufficient amount of protein from the range of >25% but less than 30% whereas for senior dog like I am fostering now, it can only consume low protein food which is advisable less than 20% / serving. ;-)

  • karo

    Does anyone know if meal protein is a healthy ingredient in dog food?

  • Betsy Greer

    Thanks, Shawna! I do know he pours the water off and cooks the beans in fresh water. I’ll tell him the science behind what he’s doing ~ he probably knows the outcome of not using fresh water, but just not exactly why it happens.

    Ahhh, Amish ingenuity! Dad was raised Mennonite in a big Amish community ~ they figured out all that stuff a long time ago.

  • Shawna

    I messed up on my post. I said “not a one of them are overweight.” That is not true. Mimi the foster dog that came in at 29 pounds is still heavier than she should be. However, it is not due to her “normal” diet. As long as my 3 and 2 year old grandkids are living with me I highly doubt the weight issue will resolve. Mimi is the first on the scene if even a crumb falls and has been known to actually take food out of the babies hands and mouths. She’s a naught puppy…

  • crazy4cats

    Very interesting! I don’t think we have that food in our area anyway. Thanks for your quick response.

  • Shawna

    Morning Betsy :)

    Yes, that is partially the reason. Beans are a pretty significant source of lectins though and the lectins are water soluble. So by soaking the beans you can remove a good deal of the lectins. That is also why you pour the water off and cook with fresh water.

    I LOVE ham and bean soup and we used to have it several times a month. The last time I made it I soaked the beans overnight but forgot to pour the water off and start with fresh when cooking. I was fine but hubby was VIOLENTLY sick that night. That was probably 10 years ago and he’s refused to eat pinto beans ever since… :(

  • Betsy Greer

    Shawna, is this the reason why my dad soaks dried beans in water overnight before he puts them on the cook the next morning. Maybe he should try adding a bit of ACV to the water in which he soaks the beans.

  • Betsy Greer

    I priced Carna4 a while back. Holy smokes! I wouldn’t use it either because I wouldn’t be able to buy food for the humans in my house.

  • Shawna

    Hi Crazy4cats,

    Grains and seeds have these anti-nutrients and enzyme inhibitors to prevent them from germinating and becoming a baby plant before conditions are right for them to survive the environment.

    Humans can germinate and sprout grains, seeds, legumes which performs the same function as seen in nature — making the grain a living plant/food. Another way to deactivate some of the antinutrients is to long soak in an “acidulated medium” like. Some grains (rice I think is one) require sprouting and soaking.

    Carna 4 is the only kibbled dog food that I know of that sprouts most of the grains/legumes etc in the food. This greatly increases the nutritional value of the grains etc but at only 27% protein I still wouldn’t personally use the food..

  • Crazy4cats

    Hi Shawna-
    Which manufacturer, in your opinion, properly prepares grains to eliminate the anti-nutrients?

  • Shawna

    Hi PetFoodGuy,

    Yes fresh meats do lose water content when processed. But certain amino acids in proteins are subject to damage with processing. Lysine as an example is damaged by heat and time of exposure to heat and therefore a meat that is heated twice may likely have significantly more lysine damage. Additionally, we are capable of reading the guaranteed analysis and ingredient list and determining exactly how much protein is present be it vegetable, named meals or named fresh meats.

    I definitely agree with you on variable qualities of ingredients.

    Dogs have not “evolved” to handle carbohydrates. Even teaching books like Waltham say they do not require complex carbs in the diet if enough protein and fat is fed. Additionally, just like humans, dogs do not produce the enzyme cellulase and therefore can not digest the cellulose in carbohydrates. Unless the food is first processed (cooked, pureed etc) the dog can not utilized it. Humans chew their food to break down the cellulose.

    There’s only one manufacturer, that I am aware of, that “properly” prepares grains to eliminate the anti-nutrients in them like phyates. Phytates can cause mineral deficiencies like zinc, calcium, magnesium etc. Grains (as well as other foods like potato etc) also have lectins which can be extremely damaging to suseptible dogs causing illnesses like IBS, IBD, gut permeability, allergies, autoimmune diseases, malnutrition etc.

    High protein does not cause obesity. On the contrary. Protein and carbs have the exact same calorie count. Newer research has proven that dogs can lose just as much weight on a high protien, moderate fat diet while maintaining muscle mass and are less likely to feel hungry and beg. My foster dog came to me at 29 pounds. She is a Papillon. She lost 15 pounds on a high protein kibble with high protein canned and raw toppers. She was too obese to exercise too. The vet thought she’d have a heart attack. Once she had lost enough to exercise it was the dead of winter and improper conditions.

    I have eight dogs ranging in size from four pounds to fourteen pounds. ALL of them are on HIGH protein diets and not a one of them are overweight.

    Excess fiber can also cause mineral deficiencies. Fiber is an important part of the diet but it certainly can come from sources other than grains.

    I feed my eight as well as my foster dogs a “wolf diet” (as commercial products go that is) and sometimes I have to add pumpkin when transitioning the foster dogs but I don’t add extra fiber ongoing. More important than the pumpkin, in my opinion however, is the probiotic I add too. None of the dogs in my care get grains of any kind. Actually, I did add barley for it’s fermentable fiber to my congenital kidney disease dogs diet but after only a very short time she developed a reaction to the barley and I had to stop it. I opted for acacia fiber as it is an excellent nitrogen trapping fiber. At least I’ve had excellent results with her on it.

  • PetFoodGuy

    To note: “wet” or “fresh” meat/fish ingredients lose about 80% of their weight in the extrusion process. This is a gimmick made popular by Pro Plan and instead of demanding labeling changes, more and more companies try to dupe the consumer. “Meal” on the other hand, gives you the true value by weight. What you don’t know, is the grade or quality of i.e. ” chicken meal” used. PF Mfrs. have dozens to pick from. This is true for every single ingredient in the bag. You can call the company or check the amount to feed per body weight to determine feeding efficiency. The proof is in the performance. Watch out for hype and fads. You don’t have a wolf on your couch. Dogs have adapted to be able to utilize starches/carbs/grains/veggies that we eat. Properly cooked grains are hugely beneficial to dogs & cats. Improperly cooked (or raw) grains are unhealthy. If a dog eats a raw potato, you’ll get brown spray paint in about 4 minutes. Raw sweet potato is more orange and takes about 3 minutes. Poor quality meats are as much to blame as the undercooked carbs in overall lack of digestibility and poor health results. Far too many pets are obese and do not warrant high protein, high fat foods. There is a spike in reports of pets becoming constipated or very, very loose on these foods with improper fiber levels. There has been too little focus by these GF advocates on intestinal transit time and optimal soluble and insoluble fiber requirements. So, you get a can of pumpkin mush and a box of oatmeal with your wolf food just in case things don’t come out all right. Some kibble makers are doing it right but it takes a lot of research to weed out shysters. My .02 for today. JLK

  • Pattyvaughn

    Seriously??? Fail reading comprehension in school?? Often??

    And you had to reply to something written a year ago to do it.

  • Moey

    Fromm’s 4 star Duck & Sweet Potato has a Carb rating of 49% and Protein of 27%, is this a recommended amount or should I find a dry kibble with a little more protein and less carbs. It also has pearled barley and potatoes in first five ingredients, and brown rice as 6th, even though review states it’s the 5th. isn’t this just carbs, in addition it also has white rice. Just seems that this should have a lower rating than 4 stars because of all these carbs.

  • BryanV21


    “Want to know what they are?
    Easy. They’re simply the first five items on every list. That’s it.”

    Did you even read it?

  • Olmsted Falls Cat Rescue

    I know! Poorly written article for sure!

  • makemineirish

    I appreciate the information and link to other dog food concerns. However, I would love to know if you have an article/list I have not yet been able to find that goes into detail on noteworthy supplements and red flag ingredients. While I am familiar with the importance of the top ingredients, I would love to find a reference on ingredients I should take notice of further down the list (good or bad) as more than “window dressing”.


  • HuskyCrazed

    ok, hope i can find that Fromm though. thanks

  • Alexandra

    I agree with Bryan. You can do better. There has been a fair amount of complaints this year.

  • BryanV21

    Blue is an okay food, but I think you can find a number of better foods at the same price… or even less.

    The problem I find is that Blue is low in protein, leaving their carb levels fairly high. The Wilderness formulas are better, though, as they are grain free and higher in protein.

  • HuskyCrazed

    yea it sounds really good to me to, i am going to see if i can find it though because i dont remember ever seeing it…..What do you guys think of blue buffalo? I go on the site called Dogster and they all say blue buffalo is great?

  • Alexandra

    Fromm is a very good food. I have fed it and had good results one dog. My shepherd can’t handle potatoes.

  • sandy

    My problem with dog foods that use the cheapest ingredients possible with chicken is that chicken meals also use preservatives which can include BHA/BHT, ethoxyquin or the preferred Naturox but this is never stated on the bag. Bags will state what the fats are preserved with and maybe that the fish meals are ethoxquin free, but what about the chicken meal?? And then that begs the question…what about all other meat meals? Now instead of contacting a company to find out whether or not their fish meals are ethoxyquin free, it seems like we should also ask them about what preservatives are in their other meat meals.

  • HuskyCrazed

    LOL ok thank you

  • BryanV21

    Not even a year ago I was in the same boat, as I figured Science Diet was the top of the line. Boy was I wrong. LOL

    So don’t worry about it at all. Good luck.

  • HuskyCrazed

    oh ok i will check those out to, i think i should take a drive to the pet store later and see if they have any of these, thank you both for your help, i appreciate it…i didn’t even want to say the brand of dog food to you because i knew it is walmart brand….thank you for not judging me on that, i do want my dog to have the best she is my baby, but price has been an issue, i will check these foods out and let you know what i have found, thanks again

  • HuskyCrazed

    wow they gave that Fromm 5 stars

  • Alexandra

    A grain free that is budget friendly is Earthborn Holistic. That should be found up there. Have you thought about Acana? They are pricey but the food is excellent.

  • HuskyCrazed

    ok will do thank you guys

  • Alexandra

    Don’t beat yourself up. We are all here to learn.

  • BryanV21

    Fromm is one of my favorite dog food companies. Very good quality food. DFA has reviews of it here, so check them out.

  • BryanV21

    Note that the Classics is not grain-free, and only comes in chicken (that I know of). So doing something like adding salmon oil would be idea.

  • HuskyCrazed

    that food you mentioned, ive never heard of it. Is it a quality food then? I will have to see if i can find it……dont think i have ever seen it

  • HuskyCrazed

    ok well what i’m paying for her food now is $25 for a 15lb bag i think, and it lasts her a while, she only eats what she needs, she is good that way.

  • BryanV21

    The Walmart foods could very well be good, but it’s nearly impossible to get questions answered about things like sources.

  • BryanV21

    If somebody is looking for a good food but price is an issue, I show people the Fromm Classics. We sell a 33lb bag of it for $40, so I’m sure it’s similar elsewhere. The only issue is finding it, as it’s a smaller company that doesn’t sell in most of the big stores (PetSmart for example).

  • Alexandra

    I agree with Bryan.

    What kind of budget are you thinking? When you get into better quality foods, oftentimes you do feed less. So while it is more upfront, the bag lasts longer.

  • HuskyCrazed

    i need to find something affordable but also good for my dog if thats possible

  • HuskyCrazed

    yes i am looking to change food now….i thought i found a good one because it scored so well and is affordable, but i guess it’s not so good then huh?? oops :( she is a Siberian Husky 3 yrs old, she is very low energy however witch is weird for a husky…when i got her she was on Purina so i switched to this holistic baked food, thinking it was better for her, her energy is still low though

  • HuskyCrazed

    yes this is very true… bad i guess it was to good to be true….lol

  • Alexandra

    Ok: this food is average at best and exclusive to Canada, which explains why I didnt hear of it. As far as Wal mart foods go, it is a good kibble. However:

    This food has only two meat ingredients, meaning the majority of protein comes from plant sources and for our dogs not as high in bioavailability for them.

    The grains are fillers and of little value to our dogs.

    For me it is too low in protein. I feed Brothers Complete when I feed kibble and it ranges from 31-38%. I feed mostly raw now so the protein is much higher.

    Are you looking to change foods?

  • BryanV21

    When Walmart released a grain-free food called Pure Balance I thought it looked fairly good, but somebody here pointed out to me that we don’t know where the ingredients are sourced from, therefore it may not be good after all.

  • HuskyCrazed

    thats a good point. I would like to find out where it’s made

  • BryanV21

    Personally I wouldn’t feel comfortable with it, and for two reasons.

    1. It’s from Walmart, and no matter what the ingredients list or guaranteed analysis is, I wouldn’t feel good about feeding that to my family due to where the ingredients may be sourced from.

    2. When I searched “Actr1um dog food” six of the results on the 1st page were from people wondering what it was. Not a link to any solid information, like from the manufacturer. I shouldn’t have to go page to page in order to find real information on a food.

  • HuskyCrazed

    sorry i spelled it wrong, it’s Actr1um Holistic dog food, but the one that is bakes, the 2 baked actr1um is duck and sweet potato, and chicken

  • Alexandra

    Hi HuskyCrazed,

    I have not heard of that brand. I googled it and found nothing. Can you supply a link?

  • HuskyCrazed

    i meant baked sorry

  • HuskyCrazed

    well, it’s Act1um, witch i know it’s from Walmart, but i used the dog food score chart and it scored well like 122 or something like that, it is bakes and holistic, also has lots of fruit

  • Alexandra

    Hi HuskyCrazed,

    I would say they are average. First, after cooking the chicken won’t be first. So the chicken meal since it is already processed would be the first ingredient.

    I like grain free diets personally as they are higher in protein and lower in carb.

    You also would want to find out the companys sources for their ingredients.
    What brand is it?

  • HuskyCrazed

    ok so the first 5 ingredients in my dry dog food are chicken, chicken meal, pearled barley, oats, herring meal. So is that good or bad?

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  • sandy

    You can go to a feed store or tractor supply store or pet boutique (fancy pet store) or even the small family owned store and they usually have samples.  Petco and Petsmart do  not have samples. Call and ask ahead of time to be sure.  Look at the 5 star dog food list.  You can print it out and take it with you to the store and see which samples they have.

  • Hannahrosexxx

    Hi my name is Hannah Mitchell Im having a science fair at school in a couple of months is it possible any of uses could give me some advice on whats the best or how to find the best? Where to find or ask for samples?
    Thank you

  • Saro

    Loved this article. Very true and right on. All dog owners should know this and this is one way of educating dog owners about what they feed their dogs.

  • Bob K

    J Hohman – Hint Hint – Its the first 5 ingredients listed on the dog food bag or can that you need to pay close attention to and them make the desision if the product is something you want to feed your pet.    For example: Corn, wheat, Soy, Meat and Bone meal, Rice, Chicken Meal, Turkey, Fish Meal, Lamb, Lamb meal.   The first 5 ingredients will form the basis of the food that’s in the bag or can and make it the most important 5 ingredients.  Psst.  read the label.

  • Mike Sagman

    Hi J Hohman,

    Per the article, “The first few items on any dog food ingredients list tend to be the most important”.

    In most (but not all) cases, that tends to be the first five ingredients.

    Hope this helps.

  • J Hohman

    So, what are the five ingredients????

  • Mike Sagman

    Hi Tatiana… When I make those statements, they represent our “initial” impression based only upon the ingredient analysis. I’m pointing out that we still need to estimate the meat content before we judge the overall rating of the product. Some of my older reviews can be a little over the top. I’m trying to go back and edit out the hypey sounding stuff our of the ratings. I’d like to stick with words like average, below average or above average. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Tatiana

    Mike, thank you for the site, it is very helpful. When you write ‘a bottom line’ in your reviews and say that ‘ judging by ingredients alone, the food is quality/ high quality/top quality / top drawer/superior/excellent/exceptional ‘ would you range this characteristics same way I wrote (where ‘top drawer’ means probably one of last tree) or differently? I am trying to understand which characteristic reflects better ingredients? Thank you.

  • Jonathan

    Josh, have you read any of Mike’s articles about protein yet? He gets into biological value, I assure you.

  • Josh

    What I mean is that you can’t just feed a dog a food based on what the protein level is. There is the whole “what is the protein?” thing, the caloric value of the food and thus feeding amount, and only using kibble as a base. A dog’s diet is just as complex as a human’s.

  • Mike Sagman

    Hi Josh… Not sure everyone would agree with your opinion about protein. Please see our FAQ page regarding the topic, “Dog Food Protein”.

  • Josh

    High protein diets are not to be ventured into without caution though. When feeding puppies, especially large breeds, you don’t want to have high protein levels because the dog will grow too fast for it’s structure to keep up.

    The Great Dane Lady feeds Precise Holistic, that is 23% protein and she moves them up to 25% when they are grown. Now, these might seem low, but this kibble is highly digestible, whereas other kibble might boast 30% protein but not be very digestible. To compare; you feed 1c/day for every 25lbs when using Precise, whereas a grocery brand will be at least double that.

    Just because a dog food is high protein does not mean your dog can digest it. Many premium dog foods include ingredients that help with digestion, such as quality fiber and pre/probiotics.

  • Mike Sagman

    Hi Jack… High protein is a concern for many and can be the subject of controversy. Protein issues for seniors seem to focus upon whether or not a high protein diet causes kidney problems. Although some may disagree, more recent studies have confirmed high protein not to be a contributing factor. That is, unless a dog is already suffering from advanced stages of renal failure. As a matter of fact, it has now been shown that a low protein diet is actually not healthy for most older pets. For a more detailed explanation, be sure to read my article about “Low Protein Dog Foods“. Hope this helps.

  • jack

    is a high protein diet good for an older dog?

  • Jonathan

    This would all be far less confusing if the dog food manufacturers were ordered, like human food makers, to put the actual nutrition breakdown on the package. It’s so deceitful. The GA is nearly pointless because of how much it can be fudged.

  • Mike Sagman

    Hi Jonathan… Actually, fat is a very small component of most grains. In an unprocessed state, one can expect to find primarily carbohydrates and (to a lesser degree) protein and fat. So, yes. In the case of fat, there would probably be only minimal affect on the fat reported in a finished dog food.

  • jonathan

    I get that… I always jump down the list to point out good or bad small ingredients. my concern now is how much the protein and fat percent is effected by the grain used in the food. it would seem the protein and fat boosting potential of corn and some other grains is more significant than i was thinking.

  • Mike Sagman

    Hi Jonathan… Your deductive reasoning skills are still sharp. However, the only thing I always have to remind myself is that some ingredients are more “potent” and can have a more significant effect on the dog food than others. An example would be fish oil (or flax seed oil) or a synthetic preservative (like BHA or BHT). Even at position ten on the list we would pay more attention to them than we would to a position five corn. Hopefully, that makes sense.

  • Jonathan

    Barley is 10% protein but only 1% fat. Oatmeal is only 2.3% protein and 1.4% fat. Whole wheat flour is 13% protein and 1.6% fat. Sorghum is 11.4% protein and 3.1% fat. White rice is only 6.6% protein and 0.5% fat.

  • Jonathan

    oh… I found a problem with my math. I just looked up the nutritional info on corn. 1 cup of corn (166 grams) has 8g of fat, 123g of carbs, and 16g protein. That means corn is about 10% protein and about 5% fat. that’s an entire 15% of corn that is affecting the potential meat content. Hmm. This throws my entire theory off. And it means that corn may need to be noted for it’s protein and fat enhancing potential in dog food. I checked brown rice, too. In one uncooked cup (185 grams) there is 5 grams of fat and 15 g of protein. That’s about 3% fat and 8% protein. That’s still 11%. It would appear that any starchy grain can have a significant effect on the GA protein and fat of a dog food.

  • Jonathan

    I always tell people to look at the list up to fat. I figured, if the fat content of the given food is say, 15%, than everything after the fat must be less than 14%. So, the more ingredients after the fat, the less % there are of each of them. Pro Pac is an easy one to show people. There isn’t much to it. The first ingredient is chicken meal, then Ground Yellow Corn, then Chicken Fat. I show them the GA and point out that if the fat is 15% of the food, and the protein is 26%, which is the chicken, then 41% of the food is actual chicken product. Then there is the 10% moisture. That’s 51%. That just leaves 49% for carbs. of that 49%, we know that the corn has to be less than 26% of the total food by it’s 2nd place after the 26% chicken. More than likely the corn is about 25% of the food. That leaves 24% of the food to what is after the fat… Rice Flour, Dried Beet Pulp, Natural Flavoring(?) Flax seed, Yeast Culture, Salt… then all the vitamins. So if rice flour has to be no more than 14%, then every thing after that can be no more that 10%. We know that salt isn’t going to make a substantial %. Probably with that we would be getting into the fractions. Same with the Yeast, flax, and “flavor”. SO if the Rice Flour is 14%, I’d say the beet pulp is more than likely about 8 or 9%, with the rest of the list falling into the remaining 1 or 2%. I usually don’t take it this far down the list with customers… I just stop when I get to the meat vs. carb part. (I can’t just do the “dry weight” math on the fly, you know.) But does my math make sense to you? Or have I screwed something up.

  • Mike Sagman

    Hi Linda… I can sympathize with your concerns. As hard as it is to believe, dog food companies frequently change the recipes of their products (including supplements) without advising the public. Unfortunately, I’m not personally aware of any laws which require them to inform the public.

    Maybe another reader can provide more information about this frustrating problem.

  • Linda Palmiere

    On Mon, Jun 28, 2010 at 7:07 PM, Linda Palmiere wrote:

    Is there any info regarding disclosure to the public when ingredients are changed on dog food supplements? Specifically, the brand, Show Stopper for coat and skin for dogs. I had been purchasing for 1 year via mail. I received my last container at the end of May 2010 and my dog became ill with gastric upset after consuming. I examined container’s ingredients and noticed the formula had changed with some ingredients deleted and others added. There was not a notification to the consumer that the ingredients/formula had changed.
    I am very concerned about this and would like to know if the supplement distributors are required to disclose a change in ingredients to the consumer. My dog is the one who suffered the consequences, and this is a shame.