Nutritional value of dog food

Navigating Nutrition for Dogs

It can make your head spin when it comes to your dog’s nutrition and what type of food is best for them since the pet food aisle is packed full of choices. I only say this due to the abundance of different types of dog foods currently on the market. Pet food is big business and certainly a competitive industry and the commercials and marketing that pet food companies turn out is proof. So when it comes to the brass tack, “Reading the pet food label on the product is the most effective way to determine the quality of the food you’re giving your dog” (fda.org). 



This label is normally found on the back of the packaging but could also be on the side of the package, it must be printed on all packaging sold as dog food. “The ingredients in the guaranteed analysis are included on the food label that provides information to the nutritional value of the product in addition to providing information about the amount and quality of protein”. “The dog food label looks similar to the nutritional facts found on the packaging of human food and it gives you a breakdown of all the ingredients that are inside the dog food”. more from fda on the label

I don’t want to bore you with math however all pet foods have different levels of moisture and there is a way to convert to what they call a dry matter basis since all the dog food is sold “price per pound”. So when you buy your dog food that is mostly water, what your dog consumes is small and expensive but does it really cost more money? And another reason to understand percent moisture is to help you compare crude protein and fat between wet can dog food and dry dog food. The label will list all dog food ingredient percentages but not on a dry matter basis. There is a way you accurately compare both wet and dry food and the only way is to use the dry matter content of each product. The formula for conversion is easy, If the dog food shows to have 21% moisture that tells us it has 79% dry matter. Right? Therefore if the label says the protein level is at 21%. Simply divide the 21% protein by the 79% dry content which gives us a total of 26% protein based on dry matter. So when comparing that to wet can food that has an 77% moisture content that tells us that we have 23% dry matter content. And when the label of the canned food shows us a number of 6% protein content we simply take the 6% divided by the 23%  giving us the results of 26% protein. You can use the same formula of dividing content “X” into dry matter “Y” (X/Y=) for any of the other ingredients like fat, fiber, proteins and minerals. “As you can see there is not much of a difference between wet food and dry food for dog’s as far as the proteins are concerned” petmd wet vs dry food

Me personally? I like to feed my dog’s dry food, because I like to use a large automatic dog feeder. Since dry dog food does not go bad or spoil quickly you can fill up a large feeder and your dog can eat when they feel the need to eat, just like drinking water. Another reason I feed my dog’s dry food? I feel the dry and crunchy consistency of the dry dog food also helps clean their teeth and gums while they are eating. Where is wet dog food tends to stick between your dogs teeth and along the gum line which builds up tartar and bacteria over time leading to dental problems.  Here is an article about cleaning your dog’s teeth if you would like to learn more about it.  If you have an older dog with certain health problems your veterinarian may want your dog on a wet food diet or their teeth may have become sensitive, missing or may have periodontal disease since it is common for older dog’s to have these dental issues. Another reason to provide wet food to your dog is the benefit of the extra water content and again your vet may recommend it if your dog is borderline dehydrated because their water intake is not enough. If you ever have any doubt about what type of dog food you should, use always consult your Veterinary Doctor.

A little information about Dog food ingredients.


All Pet Foods list the ingredients present in the food. The ingredients must be listed in order of weight. This is one of the best ways to determine the quality of the food and with little knowledge you can choose a food that is highly digestible and free of unwanted products. Here’s a list of most common ingredients.

  1. Meat.
  2. Meat by products
  3. Poultry
  4. Poultry by products
  5. Fish meal
  6. Beef tallow
  7. Corn gluten meal
  8. Brewers rice
  9. Brown rice
  10. Soybean meal

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