It takes less than a minute to scan a dog food label, but what you learn can be crucial to your purchase decision. Here’s what you need to know.

The Ingredients: The ingredients panel lists all food sources in the product in descending order by precooked weight. For dry food, a key ingredient should be a source of high-quality protein, such as chicken by-product meal.

The Analysis: The guaranteed analysis gives the minimum or maximum percentage breakdown of some basic nutrients in the formula: protein, fat, fibre and moisture content, for example.

The Contact Information: The manufacturer's phone number should be included. It indicates that the company is proud of its products and welcomes customer feedback. 

The label also recommends how much to feed your dog each day. Use these recommendations as a starting point to determine feeding amounts, but consult your veterinarian for the ideal amount.