AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles


The following items represent some of The Dog Food Advisor’s most frequently asked questions about AAFCO dog food nutrient profiles.

What is AAFCO?

AAFCO is an acronym for the Association of American Feed Control Officials. AAFCO is a non-profit organization that sets standards for both animal feeds and pet foods in the United States.

What are AAFCO dog food nutrient profiles?

In order for a dog food to be marketed as “complete and balanced”, it must meet the nutritional standards established by AAFCO.

These nutritional adequacy standards are defined by two nutrient profiles based upon a dog’s stage of life…

  • Adult maintenance
  • Growth and reproduction

What does growth and reproduction mean?

Dog foods rated for “growth and reproduction” are designed for puppies and pregnant or lactating females.

How can a manufacturer claim a particular product meets one of the two AAFCO nutrient profiles?

In order for any dog food company to claim a product is “complete and balanced” for a specific life stage, that claim must first have been validated in one of two ways…

  • Laboratory analysis only
  • Laboratory analysis plus actual feeding trials

How can a consumer know which method was used to verify AAFCO nutritional adequacy?

The first method uses laboratory analysis of a sample to verify the food meets AAFCO nutritional standards. The label will read…

“(Name of product) is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles”

The second not only uses laboratory analysis but also proves that nutritional adequacy by conducting actual feeding trials with real dogs. This type of adequacy statement will probably read…

“Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that (name of product) provides complete and balanced nutrition”

What if a dog food cannot meet either of the AAFCO nutrient profiles?

Any product that cannot meet either the AAFCO adult maintenance or growth and reproduction standards must state…

“This product is intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding only”

In other words, a product not intended for long-term use.

How can I tell if a particular dog food is OK for my puppy?

Any dog food that claims to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for either “growth” or “all life stages” should be fine for your puppy.

Is it OK to feed a puppy a dog food claiming to be suitable for “all life stages”?

AAFCO only recognizes two dog food nutrient profiles

  • Adult maintenance
  • Growth and reproduction

However, manufacturers are permitted to market a dog food as suitable for “all life stages” so long as it meets the more stringent guidelines for “growth and reproduction”.

In other words, any dog food suitable for “all life stages” is also suitable for puppies, too.

  • USA Dog Treats

    Hi jersey,

    Increasing vegetables and fruits would be increasing carbs.

  • jersey

    Not true. You can increase vegetable and even fruit intake. It doesn’t have to be fat and carbs. Just be VERY careful which vegetables and fruits you give your dog’s as some are toxic and fatal if ingested..

  • jersey

    I found out that using shampoo made for humans was causing an allergic reaction on both of my dogs. I only use shampoo made for dogs now and the allergic reactions stopped. Itching can also be just an allergy in general. You would need to figure out what that is to help your pet. I have a Shetland Sheep Dog (sheltie) and he has allergies that cause his ears to itch. Sometimes he gets ear infections from the allergy which need medicated drops.

  • theBCnut

    Cooking does NOT necessarily destroy prions, so that is not a valid argument for not feeding raw, but it may lead to a valid argument for being careful of where you get your meat, which we try to advocate anyways. Current practices in raising meat for human consumption(which is the only meat we suggest feeding raw) should limit the very slim possibility of a dog getting a prion disease even further.

  • theBCnut


    “The canine species seems to display resistance to prion disease and no single case has so far been reported.7,8″

    To date, no prion disease has been discovered in dogs (though it is doubtful much research has been done to find one).

    For example, several felid species developed prion disease (feline spongiform encephalopathy or FSE) during the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) epidemic in the United Kingdom, whereas no canine BSE cases were detected.

    There, just in case this was an actual concern of yours instead of an irrelevant argument, I have provided some links for you to do further reading. You can find many more by googling “prion diseases in dogs.”

  • SabrinaSabrina


  • theBCnut

    Yes, I put it on a public forum, in response to a specific statement. If you had actually answered that question, it wouldn’t bother me a bit, but instead you brought up something else entirely, and you are the one complaining about people answering your irrelevant argument. You are also the only one name calling and acting like a child.

  • SabrinaSabrina

    you put it on a public forum and it seems that you are not interested in an answer. You only want to argue. So, what is really wrong? Are you lonely? Or just a troglodyte?

  • Crazy4cats


  • DogFoodie

    Right? Geesh.

  • theBCnut

    You see, I DID ask Dogwhisperer. That’s my whole point.

  • SabrinaSabrina

    Maybe you should ask Dogwhisperer…or tell them. Seems like you know it all.

  • theBCnut

    I know what “prions” are, but you seem to be missing the point. Dogwhisperer said “you may be missing parasites in the meat that can be killed with high temperatures.” I was responding to a specific statement, asking a specific question. I really don’t mind one bit if you are afraid to feed a dog what a dog was intended to eat because of some disease they are extremely unlikely to get, but I was wondering if Dogwhisperer was worried about anything specific, LIKE the parasite that dogs can get from eating raw salmon or maybe trichinea from pork.

  • SabrinaSabrina

    It sounds like your dog is comparable to a human trying to eat the toast crumbs off the plate instead of having a piece of toast. That is not good at all.

  • SabrinaSabrina

    Sounds like they are being cheap. Maybe you should think about boycotting this company if they are unwilling to do anything. AAFCO approved does not have anything to do with the size of the food. They are just interested in whether it is able to be consumed by a dog without the dog getting ill. It sounds like your dog is comparable to a human trying to eat the toast crumbs off the plate instead of having a piece of toast. That is not good at all.

  • SabrinaSabrina

    Also, give him a portion of a can of no salt added green beans or peas (depending on the weight of your dog) mixed with his food. That is a low calorie solution and dogs think they are getting a treat. It is inexpensive, too. My dog is not overweight. She is just a large breed at 50 pounds. She had food issues when I first got her and I did not want her to get bloat from eating too fast so I gave her a can of green beans in her food. This slowed her down and filled her up. I did this in the evening and fed her regularly without green beans in the morning. She loves it.

  • SabrinaSabrina

    My dog has such sensitive stomach that I have only found one food she can tolerate without being sick. It is Iams lamb and rice dry food.

  • SabrinaSabrina

    According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “The term “prions” refers to abnormal, pathogenic agents that are
    transmissible and are able to induce abnormal folding of specific normal
    cellular proteins called prion proteins that are found most abundantly
    in the brain.” (2014). The prions are not parasites, but they are infectious and can be transmitted from raw beef to dogs if the prions are present in the beef.

  • SabrinaSabrina

    And to what temperature do you have to HEAT meat in order to kill the prion that causes the disease? In conclusion, do not feed raw meat to a dog because there are many organisms that may be present that are harmful, but that can be eliminated by cooking to the proper temperature.

  • SabrinaSabrina

    That is because it is a medicated shampoo and your dog had a skin infection.

  • Jaki

    Thanks I will try that. He gobbles down his food in seconds. He gets a 1/2 cup in am & pm. He was over weight and we have to cut his food down as per Vet. At first it was a 1/4 cup twice a day. After he loss the weight we increased it but I am ordering a good puzzle hopefully it will help some. Like you said he will eat until he pops

  • Susan

    Paul Falknor Iams was the founder of the Iams Company..

  • Dori

    Spongiform Encephalopathy is an infectious disease. It is part of the prion group of diseases. Not a parasite at all.

  • Dori

    Cesar Millan is the last person I would take advice on with any issue that any of my dogs have. I have three dogs. One is 15 years old the other two are 5 1/2. I have been bathing them every 8 to 10 days all of their lives as they have been part of my family since very very young. There has never been an issue with any of them in so far as baths are concerned. Yes, if your dog is solely an outside backyard dog than it is advised to bath them less often because they need to keep their natural body oils to help thwart the horrible weather conditions that those poor dogs are exposed to year round. If your dog is part of your family and lives in your home and sleeps on your sofas and on your bed, then they need to be bathed. Health wise it is also to their benefit to be bathed just as it is for humans. Also any and all vets will tell you if you have a dog that has environmental allergies that it is crucial to bath them at least once a week to remove any environmental allergies that they have come in contact with.

  • theBCnut

    Spongiform encechalopathy isn’t a parasite.

  • Susan

    My vet told me to bath Patch every 5-7 days as soon as he starts his scratching & rubbing on my carpet, with “Malaseb” medicated anti fungal shampoo & this stops his itch, I love Cesar Miilan but he’s better as a trainer…

  • SabrinaSabrina

    If he is a fast eater then he does not feel full even if he eats enough. Puggles and many other dogs will eat til their stomachs explode. You have to be sure there is not an underlying medical condition. I suggest getting a food puzzle which allows the dog to eat slower and also have fun.

  • SabrinaSabrina

    My hound came from a shelter and they fed her low quality food. Cesar Millan (Dog whisperer) suggests adding plain, low fat yogurt to dry dog food for healthy skin and coat. I substitute 1/4 of the dry food for the yogurt and after two weeks the dog’s skin is softer and she sheds less. This was in the Summer when shedding was bad.

  • SabrinaSabrina

    That is because the protein molecules take longer for the body to digest and the fiber makes one feel full for a long period of time compared to a low fiber diet. I know this from my own experience on the South Beach Diet.

  • SabrinaSabrina

    spongiform encephalopathy