How to Read a Pet Food Label

A dog looking up at the camera beside an empty food bowl

Unsure what to look for when reading a pet food label? See our guide to just what you’re looking at.

Reading a Pet Food Label

Navigating the countless options in the pet food section of your favourite store can be confusing. Here’s a quick guide to help you get started in making informed decisions when selecting the food that’s right for your pet.


This section contains a branded name, like Purina® Dog Chow®, along with an indication of the primary ingredient or a formula name such as chicken and rice.

Net Weight Statement

This indicates how much food is contained in the bag or can.

Manufacturer's Name and Address

Identifies where the product was made in case you have questions or comments about the product.

Ingredient List

Just like human food, the ingredients are listed in descending order of content weight. Further down the list, you’ll see many chemical-sounding names that correspond to vitamins and minerals.

Guaranteed Analysis

State regulations recommend a minimum level of certain nutrients. The guaranteed analysis shows the pet food’s minimum or maximum of essential nutrients.

Nutritional Adequacy Statement

To substantiate claims, pet food must be complete and balanced to meet or exceed the standards of an established profile, or be proven to meet certain nutritional recommendations.

Feeding Directions

Follow these instructions to determine how much food to feed your pet each day. These are just guidelines, and you may need to increase or decrease the amount of food you feed to help maintain your pet’s ideal body condition.

Calorie Statement

This is expressed on a kilocalorie per kilogram basis. It may also be expressed as a common unit of measure, such as kilocalories per cup. This information will help you get a handle on the differences between dry pet food brands.

It’s important to know how to navigate the information contained in a pet food label. Just know that any time you choose a pet food from Purina, you can be confident you’ve selected a pet food that provides complete and balanced nutrition.

What is the weight circle on your pet food packages used for?

The weight circle is often required as proof-of-purchase in connection with premium/promotion offers we feature. Such offers are usually advertised either in or on our product packaging or on this website.

Going Beyond the Label

We like the labels on our foods. That’s because we know our pet food is full of nutrients, and that all our ingredients come from high-quality sources. But we also believe that a label needs to reflect results, not just a nice product formulation.

That’s why we develop our foods around the outcomes we see in real pets, from a healthy coat to bright eyes and abundant energy, and even to a better life. It’s our mission to study how our products affect pets over the course of their entire lives, so we can know that our labels aren’t just nice to read, they stand for real results.

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