How to Decipher Dog-Food Labels: Calorie and Fat Terms

What Is the Difference Between Light and Reduced-Calorie Dog Foods?

Dog-food products described as light, lite, or low calorie must meet specific calorie levels set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), while dog foods named “less” or “reduced calorie” must show a percent reduction in calories as compared to a product in the same moisture-content category. The following table shows the guidelines as set by AAFCO for both dog and cat foods for determining whether a product can use the term “light.”

Food Texture Moisture Content Dog Foods Maximum kcal ME/kg Cat Foods Maximum kcalME/kg
Dry less than 20% moisture 3,100 3,250
Semi-Moist between 20 and 64% moisture 2,500 2,650
Canned 65% or more moisture 900 950
 

What Is the Difference Between Lean and Reduced-Fat Dog Foods?

Like light versus reduced-calorie foods, lean or low-fat dog-food products must meet specific fat levels set by AAFCO, and less-fat or reduced-fat dog-food products need to show a percent reduction in fat as compared to a product in the same moisture category. AAFCO guidelines for dog and cat foods with “lean,” “low fat,” or similar words are shown in the following table.

Food Texture Moisture Content Dog Foods Maximum % Crude Fat Cat Foods Maximum % Crude Fat
Dry less than 20% moisture 9 10
Semi-Moist between 20 and 64% moisture 7 8
Canned 65% or more moisture 4 5