We all want our dogs to live their healthiest life and this includes providing them with balanced nutrition. When shopping for the best pet food for their furry friend, many pet parents look to compare different foods based on the nutritional value listed on the guaranteed analysis listed on the label. This method of comparing pet food can be misleading and is not an accurate way of comparing between pet foods.
Guaranteed analyses are used by pet food manufacturers to display the basic nutritional information of the food. The regulating body for pet food in the USA, known as the The Association of American Feed Control Officials (or AAFCO) requires manufacturers to include the minimum information for crude protein, crude fat, crude fibre and moisture. Pet food manufacturers can also opt to include more information if they want to. The guaranteed analysis can be found as a table usually located on the back or sides of the packaging and can also be found on the retailer's website.
Unfortunately, AAFCO requires manufacturers to display the guaranteed analysis with information on an “As Fed Basis”. What does this mean? As Fed values portray the nutritional information without taking moisture into account. This can be a misleading way to determine how much protein, fibre and fat are actually in the food, especially when certain foods like canned, raw and fresh cooked food have such a high moisture content when compared to kibble. This is because the amount of moisture plays a large factor when comparing nutrients and makes certain nutrients appear lower than they truly are.
The best way to compare between different dog foods is by comparing them on a “Dry Matter Basis”. Dry Matter removes 100% of the water from the equation and allows you to compare nutrients across the board without worrying about the dilution factor.
Converting nutrient information from As Fed to Dry Matter will require a little bit of math. But don’t worry, it’s simple!
Steps to convert As Fed to Dry Matter:
Choose the nutrient you wish to convert/compare (For this example, we will use protein - see below)
Determine the amount of moisture in the food (listed on the guaranteed analysis table as a %)
Subtract the moisture % by 100, this will give you the dry matter %
Divide the nutrient % from the guaranteed analysis by the calculated dry matter %
Multiply by 100
Let’s use our Kabo Fresh-Cooked Tender Chicken Recipe as an example!
The As Fed crude protein value listed on the info card and on the Kabo website is 12%
The moisture content listed on the info card and on the Kabo website is 70%
Dry matter % = 100-70 = 30%
Dry Matter Crude Protein = (12%/30%)*100 = 40%
The true protein content of Kabo Fresh-Cooked Tender Chicken Recipe is actually 40%, amazing!
This same equation can be used for all nutrients (fat, fibre, sodium, iron, etc.)!
For your convenience, we’ve already made a table converting all of our Kabo diets (fresh and kibble) from as fed to dry matter! Check out how much the nutritional value of the fresh food changes after conversion to dry matter. Upon initial inspection of the fresh food, the nutritional value seems low but when converted to dry matter it is much more comparable to kibble.