1. The ingredient panel
This section lists all the ingredients that make up the product. The ingredients must be listed in descending order according to weight before cooking. A key ingredient in dry food should be a source of high-quality animal-based protein: chicken or lamb, for example. Dogs thrive on animal proteins.
Manufacturers who use large amounts of vegetable proteins might be saving money by providing basic but not optimal nutrition. Other ingredients to avoid are artificial colors and flavors, which offer no nutritional benefits.
2. The guaranteed analysis
Near the ingredient panel should be a chart of percentages called the "guaranteed analysis." These figures reveal the basic nutrient makeup of the dog food's formula and protein content. The minimum percentages of protein and fat and the maximum percentages of fiber and moisture (water) should be listed.
3. The manufacturer's name and address
This information must be on the label by law. A toll-free number or Web address may also be listed. Manufacturers who list a phone number, such as IAMS™, generally have a high-quality product and welcome consumer calls and questions. If you would like information about IAMS products, visit our website or call us toll-free at 1-800-525-4267.
Beware of products that read “packed for” or “distributed by.” These foods aren't made by the store named on the front label, but instead by a manufacturer whose quality and consistency controls might not be monitored closely.