Nutritional info can baffle even the most nutrition-savvy dog owner – learn how to simplify this information in a way clients can understand.

If your clients have ever asked you to compare dog foods for them, you know what a challenge (and headache) this can be. The nutritional info can baffle even the most nutrition-savvy dog owner, and it can be difficult to simplify this information in a way clients can understand.

When comparing two pet foods, it’s important to compare the “dry matter” nutritional values rather than the “as fed” nutritional values. This is particularly important if the foods are very different in consistency, such as a raw food and a kibble.

The nutritional information typically listed on any pet food is the “Guaranteed Analysis.” This is the “as fed” nutritional information, which includes crude fiber, crude fat, and crude protein as well as the moisture content of the meals. The word “crude”, in this case, refers to the method of nutritional testing rather than the quality of the ingredients.

How moisture content affects comparisons

The moisture content simply refers to how much water is in a food. The value varies widely among kibble, fresh cooked, raw, and canned foods. While moisture content is an important component of the meal, it can cause the nutritional values of different types of food to appear misleading.

To compare foods on a “dry matter” basis rather than an “as fed” basis, you need to exclude the moisture portion of the food.

Consider this scenario: a fresh dog food has 72% moisture content. This means the other components of the meal comprise the remaining 28%. The “as fed” percentage of protein is listed as 13%.

This means that the dry matter protein content of the food is 13/28, or 46%. Comparing the “dry matter” values of a kibble and fresh food meal provides a very different picture to comparing their “as fed” values.

Because fresh or raw meals, as well as most canned foods, have a much higher moisture content than kibble, the protein and fat content can appear misleadingly low if the two foods are compared using the “as fed” nutritional values rather than the dry matter values.

Comparing the dry matter values of different food types should help give the most accurate picture of how any two foods differ nutritionally. This allows you to help your clients more easily make informed decisions regarding their pets’ health and diets.

What to look for in a dog food brand

If you are recommending that a client switch up their dog’s diet, here are some factors to consider:

Convenience: Is the food accessible to the client? Is it easily found in a store or online?

Freshness: When was the food made? This is different from the expiration date. While the latter is important, it doesn’t tell you when the food was actually manufactured. Over time, nutrients in pet food can degrade, so it’s important to recommend a product that’s kept fresh.

Affordability: Is the food realistically within your client’s budget? Is it a product they’ll be able to stick with?


Gary Tashjian is the owner and founder of Darwin’s Natural Pet Products. Gary spotted the opportunity to help more pets live longer lives with healthier diets and founded Darwin’s Natural Pet Products in 2004, the first raw pet food company in the Pacific Northwest. Over the past 17 years, Darwin’s has served more than 80 million nutritious meals to dogs and cats, helping tens of thousands of pets live healthier lives.


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