Demystifying the Dog Food Label

Why We Love Nulo Freestyle at Bone-a-fide Dog!

By: Dr. Abby Huggins Mowinski, DVM

You Are What You Eat. Just like us, the fuel we choose to put in our pets’ bodies can pay big dividends in overall health and quality of life. However, choosing an appropriate, nutritious pet food can be downright overwhelming, due in part to the challenge of interpreting pet food labels.

Armed with an understanding of what to look for on a label, you can approach that decision with confidence and select the best pet food for your buddy. So let’s turn our pet food bag over and take an educated look at the information on the back.


Ingredients in pet foods are listed in descending order by weight. Look for high proportions of meat proteins and meat meals from named (lamb, turkey, salmon), not generic, sources. Animal-based protein is the most natural source of protein for dogs and cats, providing them with the essential amino acids that their bodies require. On Nulo Pet Food’s labels, you will see three, or more, single-source meat ingredients at the top of every list.

(The ingredients in our Turkey and Sweet Potato FreeStyle Recipe.)

Nulo’s ingredient list also contains vegetables and fruits, like chickpeas, lentils, apples and blueberries which deliver dietary fiber, vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants. Nulo also selects low-glycemic carbohydrate sources that yield a more sustained energy source for the body and mitigate the spike in blood sugar levels associated with higher glycemic index ingredients.

In general, avoid pet foods that contain high glycemic ingredients like white potatoes and tapioca, generic animal by-products and fats, added sweeteners, artificial colors and flavors, and artificial preservatives.

As a consumer, it is important to know the carbohydrate content when you are comparing pet foods. Dog and cats do not have a dietary requirement for carbohydrates and consuming them in excess can cause weight gain and other related health issues. However, current regulations do not permit carbohydrate contents to be listed on pet food labels. With the following formula, you personally can calculate the amount of carbohydrates found in your dry pet food by using the values displayed in the Guaranteed Analysis: 100% – (Crude Protein %) – (Crude Fat %) – (Moisture %) – 8.5% (for average Ash level). Look for foods with calculated values around 35% for dogs, and 25% for cats, or lower.

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