While many leading dog food and cat food brands cover the front of their bags with beautiful photography or illustrations of healthy ingredients, the ingredient listing on the back is where you can determine whether your pet’s food is of the highest quality.
Why is the first ingredient the most important? How do some brands categorize certain ingredients to make their food appear healthier? Why is corn not necessarily the healthiest ingredient? Take a minute to find out the answers to these questions and more.
How to compare dog and cat food.When evaluating pet food ingredient listings, consider these factors:
- The first ingredient is the most important because there is more of that ingredient than any other. All dog foods and cat foods must list the ingredients of their food in order of weight. When you compare the labels below, you see the first ingredient in BLUE is always real deboned chicken, fish, or lamb. The first ingredient in a leading brand pet food is ground yellow corn (which can be difficult for dogs and cats to digest, and has been linked to allergies in some dogs).
- The top 10 ingredients usually comprise 80% or more of a dry pet food's entire formula and give you a real insight into the formula’s overall quality. For example, if you compare the top 10 ingredients in BLUE Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe dog food to some of the leading dog food brands, the differences in ingredient quality are clear.
- Some dog food and cat food brands define their ingredients in several different ways so that the ones of lower quality appear further down the ingredient list. For example, a product list could contain chicken, ground corn, corn gluten, ground wheat and corn bran. And, if you were to group all of the corn ingredients as one, they might far out-weigh the amount of chicken in that food, and be the first listed ingredient.
- Be sure to read all of the ingredients at the end of the listing to know if any artificial preservatives and colorings are being used.