What should be the order of ingredients in pet food?

Food is love, and so is pet food for dogs, cats, etc. While they may be content with anything from supermarket kibble to leftovers, the quality of your ingredients and nutrition has a significant impact on how happy, healthy, and long their life is.

Nowadays pet food, like human food, has grown much more processed, with additional preservatives for storage needs. For example “dry kibble is cooked several times at very high temperature,” which can deplete some nutrients. Pet food companies need to adjust what they put into their pet food to improve the health of these animals.

The required order for ingredients in pet foods

Food ingredients are labeled in weight order, according to the FDA. The ingredients with the most amount is listed first, followed by the least amount ingredients in descending order.

This means that if a dog food claims to be high in protein but the first component is a carbohydrate, you should know that their high protein claim is not true. In this post, we will list the main ingredients which should be the top ingredients in a pet food label.

1.   Protein

Protein should always be the first five ingredients in a pet food. Dogs are omnivores, which means they get their nutrients and energy from both plant sources and animal sources. Protein, on the other hand, is necessary for their muscular and tissue development, energy, and good skin and nails, and immune system health

For example, protein levels in a dog’s food can differ depending on their age, weight, breed, and whether or not they are pregnant or just puppies.

Complete proteins include all ten essential amino acids that dogs require for existence. According to national pet food associations, “complete and balanced” dog food contains a minimum crude protein level.

The types of proteins and how much?

The minimal level of crude protein necessary for adult maintenance diets is eighteen percent, and the minimum level for reproduction and growth diets is twenty-two percent on a dry matter basis. That is, for each life stage, your pet food requires a precise amount of protein to meet the requirements of a “complete and balanced” diet.

Proteins are not all made equal. Whole proteins, such as poultry, cattle, or chicken, should be included first in high-protein dog food.

Other proteins that are listed include:

  • Whole meats are protein sources that have not been processed in any way.
  • Meals which are rendered whole meats that are included alongside the protein name.
  • Meat meals are rendered whole meats that are listed without a specified protein.
  • By-product meals include poultry and other products, as well as organs.

We developed a comprehensive meal breakdown to help you comprehend the difference. To ensure the pet food has enough protein look for a pet food that contains whole meats and meals as the primary components.

Other ingredients

When making the pet food label, there are a few key ingredients to keep an eye out for:

  • Carbohydrates from protein
  • Fats that are beneficial
  • Minerals and vitamins

As previously said, the first five ingredients should be protein, however, a pet food should not be based primarily on protein. When you consider well-balanced nutrition. Picture it as a human dinner, with nutritious foods representing one complete dish.

The least manufacturers can do is that the pet food should have the elements listed above in order for AAFCO to classify it as “complete and balanced.”


Whatever choice you make, the main point is to look at the first five ingredients in a pet food. The first five ingredients in your pet food are the most important. Also, if you want to guarantee high-quality pet food you will need to purchase your ingredients from the best suppliers of food ingredients in the pet food market.

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