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Your dog relies on you to make the right choice for him. He can't speak, so you must speak for him. 

However, choosing a good quality dog food is more difficult than it should be. Pet food labels can be hard to understand. Ambiguous pet food labelling is common place and this makes it hard for you to choose the best pet food for your dog. The ingredients label is the source of information for what is in the pet food, it is what helps you decide whether to make the purchase.

This is a typical pet food label:

Ingredients: Cereals, meat and animal derivatives, animal fats, derivatives of vegetable origin, vegetable protein extract, minerals. Preserved with EC permitted antioxidants.

So what exactly is in this product?

From this label alone it is impossible to determine what is exactly in this pet food. This is because this label is stuffed full of generic terms, therefore the actual ingredients can be one of many. This allows the manufacturer to change the contents of the pet food without changing the label. I believe that when manufacturers use these terms, it makes pet food labelling a useless source of information for deciding what to feed your dog.

There are a few common terms which are used to cover many different ingredients.

Meat & animal derivatives

Cereals

EC Permitted Additives

This can make it very hard to know exactly what is in your dog's food. The ingredients can even change from bag to bag.  This is particularly problematic when your pet has an allergy or food intolerance.


Pet food open formulas thumbs downMost pet foods are manufactured with open formulas. This is where the main ingredients are liable to change due to market conditions affecting cost and availability. This leads to inconsistency in how these products will feed out. 

Pet Foods labelled with ingredients such as "meat and animal derivatives", "derivatives of vegetable origin", "cereals", "meat", "meat by-products" etc are clearly not descriptive. They could be made up of any combination of ingredients.

Some product ingredients are so loosely described that a manufacturer is free to include almost anything. This clearly isn't the best way to feed your pet.


pet food closed formulas thumbs upThe better foods are made with closed formulas where every bag is made to the same specification. This way you know exactly what you are feeding your pet and you can be confident that the product performance will stay the same.