Is Your Dog Getting Enough Nutrients?

Life with my dogs

Is Your Dog Getting Enough Nutrients?

Need help understanding if your dog is getting enough nutrients in their diet? From concept to production, recipe formulation takes a considerable amount of time and an entire team — especially to craft options for the diverse needs of dogs at different ages, sizes, and backgrounds. 

Each piece of kibble must contain all the nutrients required to keep a dog nourished and healthy. Ingredients are the vehicles for providing these nutrients but meeting proper nutrient levels is what matters most. That’s what you need to look for when choosing a recipe for your beloved dog. 

If you’re unfamiliar with the process of reading dog food labels, or you need a little refresher, the nutrition team at NOW FRESH has some advice. 

Table of Contents

NF Dog Owner Garden Ball

Start by confirming it meets AAFCO requirements. 

When you’re shopping, flip over the package to ensure there’s a statement confirming the recipe is formulated to meet the specific nutrient levels for your dog’s size and life stage.        

In the pet food world, these statements indicate whether a food is “complete and balanced,” which means it meets all the nutrient requirements your dog needs. Using the most recent scientific information, the Association of American Feed Control Officials, or AAFCO, publishes specific nutrient recommendations for dogs at two specific life stages: growth & reproduction and adult maintenance.  If a recipe is formulated to meet these AAFCO nutrient profiles, you can feel confident it is complete and balanced to contain all the nutrients your dog needs. 

AAFCO nutrient profiles also provide a minimum and maximum recommendation for each nutrient, which means you can compare the levels in any recipe you’re considering to the values they recommend. If you need help, please reach out to your local veterinarian or pet food nutritionist.

Understanding the Nutrient Profile.   

Nutrient Profiles are where you can find detailed information about all the nutrients in your pets’ recipe. If they aren’t provided right on the bag, you should be able to find them easily on the website of a brand you’re considering. 

When looking at the Nutrient Profile for any recipe, you will notice that nutrient levels are presented in three different ways: on a ‘dry matter’ basis; on an ‘as fed’ basis; and on a ‘per-1,000 calorie’ basis. But, what do these mean?  

Dry matter’ is the value for a nutrient assuming all moisture has been removed, which provides information on a uniform basis. Nutrient levels in foods with different moisture contents (e.g. wet versus dry recipes) can be directly compared when reported in this way. The AAFCO nutrient recommendations mentioned above are also published on a dry matter basis, so this measure allows you to directly compare a recipe you’re considering to be sure it is complete and balanced.  

‘As fed’ is the value for a nutrient the way it actually exists in a recipe, including all of its moisture content. In other words, this is how you would give it to your pet, which makes this measure helpful in understanding the exact nutrient amounts your pet is eating.

NF dog tetra Ball Grass

What about the Guaranteed Analysis?   

Reading the label of a pet food bag does not always tell you everything, and it’s important to consider what else you need to know – particularly if you’re trying to decide between two different recipes.   

The Guaranteed Analysis, which can be found on your dog food bag is provided on an ‘as fed’ basis, but when comparing foods with different moisture levels, you actually need to look at the nutrient levels on a ‘dry matter’ basis.  

For example, say you’re looking for a lower fat recipe to help your dog lose weight. NOW FRESH Turkey Stew has a fat content of 23% on a dry matter basis, while NOW FRESH Adult kibble has a fat content of 18%. In this situation, you would choose the NOW FRESH Adult kibble recipe because it’s lower in fat.

This is exactly why reading labels can be so handy –  as pet food makers, we’ve already done the math for you!

Calories are important for dogs too. 

Like humans, dogs must consume proteins, fats, and carbohydrates for energy. That’s why nutrient levels are also provided on a ‘Per 1,000 kcal’ basis. Just like nutrient levels on a ‘dry matter basis’, the ‘per calorie basis’ allows direct comparison of nutrient levels between foods with different moisture levels. Understanding nutrient requirements on a per calorie basis can be a very helpful resource for ensuring you don’t feed your dog more than they need, and risk packing on the pounds. 

Nutrients levels matter more than ingredients. 

When choosing a pet food, remember that it’s the nutrients your pet requires, not any specific ingredient.     

The reason is that recipes with different nutrient levels can be formulated using a wide variety of ingredients, including fresh meats, meat meals, eggs, grains, fruits, vegetables, vitamins and minerals. While using the best possible ingredients is absolutely important, it is the nutrient levels and their balance that speak the most about the integrity and quality of any recipe. 

It might seem like there’s a lot to know about feeding your dog. And you’re right, there is. 

But don’t worry, there are lots of resources to help. In addition to connecting with your pet food provider’s customer service team, you can also consult with the staff working at your local pet specialty retailer. They are trusted experts in caring for pets and would be happy to help. 

As a dog parent, you already know just how much love, connection and joy can come from a canine companion. And by doing your homework to make informed decisions about how to feed them, you can ensure they live the longest and happiest lives possible.  

Submitted by the NOW FRESH Nutrition Team

Since 2007, NOW FRESH has provided pet parents the ultimate peace of mind knowing they’re feeding their cherished companions perfectly balanced recipes tailored to their specific size and age, to help them live long, healthy, and happy lives. NOW FRESH is part of the Petcurean family of premium-quality pet food products. For more information, visit