Choosing the right dog food for your pet is important as it can affect their health throughout their lifetime. It is important to learn how to understand and analyze dog food labels to ensure your dog is receiving the nutrients they need for a healthy life. Keep reading to find out what ingredients you should look for in your dog food. 

1. Protein 

The most important thing to look for when choosing a dog food for your pet is whether animal protein reads at the top of the list of ingredients. The dog food that you choose should contain a high content of high-quality animal protein. Thus, the first-named ingredient should be a source of animal protein, as ingredients are listed by the highest weight.

2. Named protein

It is also important to look for a specifically named animal protein at the top of the product's ingredient list. Look for "chicken," "lamb," or "beef" at the top of the description. If it lacks a specifically named source of protein, the protein is likely a low-quality protein of which the source is dubious. Animal proteins may also be described as "meal" so look for "lamb meal" or "chicken meal" but avoid simply "meat meal." 

3. Meal as well as fresh meat 

It is also necessary to be aware that fresh or frozen meat tends to contain a high amount of water and water is a heavy ingredient. So if fresh or frozen meat is listed at the top of the ingredients list, ensure that another source of animal protein such as meal is included in the top three ingredients.

Fresh or frozen meat does not contain enough protein to be the only source of animal protein in dry dog food as they can contain up to seventy-five percent water and less than 25 percent protein. Animal protein "meals" in comparison, contain less than ten percent water and up to 65 percent protein. 

4. Whole ingredients

When choosing a dog food, look also for fresh, unprocessed ingredients. Unprocessed ingredients contain nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in the natural form. Don't worry about one or two fraction ingredients such as rice bran as long as they are low on the list. However, it is not a good idea to choose a dog food that contains a lot of processed ingredients, whether or not they feature high on the list. 

5. Best before date

When buying pet food, look for a best-before date that is around ten or eleven months away as this means that it has been made recently. However, be aware that foods that have a best before-date of more than eleven months to two years likely contain synthetic preservatives such as BHT, BHA, and ethoxyquin. A best-before-date of ten to eleven months is ideal. 

6. Avoid by-products and added ingredients 

Avoid foods that contain:

Meat or poultry by-products: which are lower-cost ingredients that are not stored or processed carefully; 
An ambiguous fat source: such as "animal fat" which can contain anything including restaurant grease, "chicken fat" or "duck fat" is preferable and easier to trace;
Added sweeteners: which are used to convince dogs to eat food that contains little protein and a high quantity of grain fragments; 
Artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives: the color of the food does not matter and it should have enough flavour from the healthy proteins and fats. 
To sum up... 

When looking for premium dog food for your pet, it is important to be able to properly analyze the ingredients to ensure that they have a high nutrient and protein content for a healthy and balanced diet.