Star Milling

What to Look for on a Dog Food Label

woman and golden retriever

We're going to show you how to look at a dog food label for 15 seconds and know if it’s high quality and nutritious or full of empty calories. You deserve to know for your dog’s sake.

The First Ingredient

The first ingredient on the list is, by percentage, the largest ingredient in the recipe. Be sure that the first ingredient is always meat or another protein source, as opposed to a starch, like corn, wheat or rice. You’re looking for chicken or poultry, porcine (pig), beef, and lamb as a source of that protein and will be surprised to discover how many well-known brands begin their recipes with filler starches, which offer less nutritional value to your dog.

Whole Grains

You want whole grains such as rice (not rice proteins), wheat (not wheat gluten) and corn (not corn gluten). In this context, the words protein and gluten indicate that the manufacturer has included a processed form of the food instead of the whole grain. Whole grains are better for your pet.


There are several brands out there using chemical preservatives, like Ethoxyquin. Ethoxyquin is not good for dogs. At Star Milling, we keep it natural and use Natural Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Rosemary Extract and Citric Acid, which are safe and healthy preservatives.

Adapting the Food

You don’t want to use one dog food for all of your dog’s life stages. They need a puppy food while they are growing—that can be anywhere up to three years, depending on the breed. Active dogs require higher protein content than puppies. Senior dogs that are less active should transition to what’s called a maintenance food.


Check out the label of your dog food and make sure it contains at least 18% protein. Our Ultra Balance Adult dog food has 25% protein. Puppies and active dogs need even more, which is why Ultra Balance Puppy and Active blends contain 30% protein. The Ultra Balance Active diet will be available in February.

Other Things to Look For

Check to see if your dog food contains flaxseed, fishmeal and/or omegas 3 and 6—which are good for skin and coat. Star Milling food also contains yeast cultures, which promote a healthy gut. And if your dog food says it contains “animal fat”—that’s not what you want to see. You want to know exactly what animal fat it contains like poultry (chicken), pork or beef.

Your dog’s food is a big factor in their health and happiness. Check out the label and see if it passes this checklist. If it doesn’t, find a feed store with Ultra Balance dog food and give them the nutrition they deserve.