What is Splitting in Dog Food Labels

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Before we can talk about what splitting means in dog food labels, we need to cover a few facts about how ingredients are listed in dog food labels.

Most of you are aware that ingredients are listed by weight, so the first ingredient should be the heaviest… I say should be, because if we are talking about dry dog foods, and the first ingredient is a meat (chicken, beef, lamb ext.)  then 80% of it’s weight is actually water.  So when the food is processed the water is removed so keep that in mind when we talk about splitting.

A manufacture will list different components of the same ingredient more than once on the label.  A example would be Turkey and Turkey meal, even thought they are both a Turkey product they are always listed separately on the dog food label.

Another example would be Brown rice, rice bran, white rice, rice,rice flour and rice gluten are all parts of the same ingredient – rice, but they are listed separately on the dog food label.

So why do dog food manufactures use splitting?

You can bet that they use it to make their food look better, not worst, so how do they do that?

Let’s take a look at this fictitious example: Turkey, Turkey Meal, brown rice, rice gluten, rice flour, rice, turkey fat.

It would be much easier to determine the major product in this food, if the manufacturer was required to give us quantities of each ingredient, but they don’t so we need to use what we already know to evaluate the food.

Here is what we know to be true… The first listed Item is Turkey, so right off the bat we know that it lost 80% of it’s weight (water) through processing and should actually be listed far down on the label.

The 2nd item is Turkey meal which is really the number one ingredient by weight in our fictitious dog food after processing.  Now that sounds like a good thing, until you look at the next four ingredients which are all a rice product…  Even though these listed rice products all have different nutritional values they are still all rice and when you combine the weight of all four rice ingredients it is more than likely that this dog food is more rice based than Turkey based.

We can take this one step further… lets say the in the above list we would replace three of the four rice listed ingredients with corn meal, barley, wheat flour… while this is no longer classified as splitting this food would still be a grain based food, not a Turkey based food.

A example of a good dog food label would look more like this:  Turkey, chicken, turkey meal, chicken meal, potatoes, herring meal, chicken fat, natural flavors, egg, apples, tomatoes, potassium chloride, carrots, vitamins, garlic, cottage cheese, minerals, alfalfa sprouts, ascorbic acid, dried chicory root, direct-fed microbials, vitamin E supplement, lecithin, rosemary extract.

I think you can look at this list and see that it is a meat based product, even though they list Turkey and chicken 1st and 2nd on the list which we know both are 80% water, they back that up with turkey meal and chicken meal which being meal already had the water removed before processing and therefore should actually be number one and two on the list by actual weight.

Also after potatoes there are two more meat listed items, so we can be assured this is a meat based food.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the dog food manufacturers would make it easier for us to really know what is in our dog foods? The truth is they know that the pet owners know they should be feeding their dogs more meat than grains, so they manipulate the dog food labels to try and fool you into thinking their foods are something different than they really are.

You might ask, why don’t they just use more meat?  The answer is simple… grains, meat by-products and other fillers are cheaper than meat, so for them to make the most money they elect to confuse and fool the public, by manipulating the dog food labels.

I hope this post helps you the next time you take a look at a dog food label… I know it can be confusing and we will continue to post articles to help you make the best selections.