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Understanding food labels

NB Not as straightforward as you might think!

‘As Fed’ versus ‘Dry Matter’

Labels generally describe the food as it is fed to pets (i.e. with the moisture content included)

HOWEVER, to compare one food with another, one has to strip out the moisture content first BECAUSE this varies from one food to another.


Food A is a raw wet food with a moisture content of 80%, and a protein content of 10%.

Food B is a dry food with a moisture content of 10% and the protein content of 10%. In this example, the protein content of Food A is 50% once the moisture has been extracted, but the protein content of Food B is only 11%, even though each label lists the protein content as 10%.

Where possible we try to make this information available to you at a glance, by means of posters and banners on display in our Wellness Centre. We also include carbohydrate levels for your information (although this is not a legal requirement for pet food producers but is for human food producers). Dogs and cats have NO NUTRITIONAL REQUIREMENT for carbs but many food manufacturers include high levels of carbohydrates, which are unhealthy for our pets.

Complete or Complementary

COMPLETE means the food provides all the nutrients a pet needs in the right balance.

COMPLEMENTARY, on the other hand, means that further ingredients should be added (such as eggs, veggies, liver treats etc) to balance the diet. We can advise you on this if you need help.

Working dog recipes

Working dog recipes are formulated with active or working dogs in mind. As a result, they are nutritionally complete, but generally have higher fat content than normal recipes to provide extra energy.

These recipes are still suitable for most non-working dogs, but adjustments should be made to the daily amount fed, to compensate for the high fat content (please see feeding guide page). As always, feeding guides are a good place to start, but your pet's body condition should be constantly monitored to determine the right amount of daily food required.

Working dog recipes are also free of VAT.

If you would like more information or guidance on this subject, we would be happy to discuss this with you at our Wellness Center in Brentwood.

Thinking of feeding raw? Click the button below to find out more.

Raw Food Facts