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. A key ingredient should be a source of high-quality, highly digestible protein.

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

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.