Ingredient Labels, Grains, and Some Data

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Last week we wrote about ingredient splitting and used our data to show that about 17% of all foods and treats have multiple forms of the “fillers” rice, corn, or wheat.  We then asked a related question—what percentage of all foods and treats contain at least one form of any of these filler ingredients.   Today we will answer this question and share another set of interesting statistics from our dog food database.


Before we get to the numbers, we first wanted to clarify our use of the word “filler” in the context of this analysis.  Unlike some, we are not dead set against the use of rice, corn, or wheat, in moderation, as part of a dog’s diet and we did not intend to imply that a food containing these ingredients is necessarily bad.  Nor are we suggesting that these three ingredients are the only grain sources in dog foods and that if your food doesn’t contain any of the three that it is necessarily grain free or superior to other food products.  With that said, let’s take a look at the data.


Rice, corn, wheat, oh my!

The picture below answers our question.  Roughly 53% of the 2,200 dog foods and treats in our database contain at least one of these ingredients. If we look at only foods and exclude treats, this number drops slightly to 50%.

Filler Stats

You can also see from the graph that rice is by far the most common of the three, present in 30% of all foods and treats and 30% of foods excluding treats.  For those interested, “n” refers to the number of foods and treats, or in the second case, foods and not treats, in our data set.


Overall, the numbers are less than our readers estimated.  We had one reader who guessed 98%!  (Yes, you Sue).   It is also interesting to see that rice is by far the most commonly used of the three, more than twice as prevalent as corn and more than four times as prevalent as wheat.  In the future, we will expand our list of grain fillers and re-run the numbers.


One question leads to another

While running these stats, we became more curious about other interesting facts we could uncover by leveraging our data.  The first that came to mind was to calculate the average dog food guaranteed analysis, adjusted to a dry matter basis of course, so that we can provide you with the average protein, fat, and carbohydrate values for the dog food industry.  We will share these numbers, which can be helpful in determining how your food stacks up, next week.

Any guesses here?  Do you think that an average dog food contains more protein than carbs?  Vice versa?  What about fat?  Stay tuned for the answers.


We’re joining the Tasty Tuesday Blog Hop sponsored by Sugar, the Golden Retriever and Kolchak from Kol’s Notes:

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  1. This is a fabulous series you’re running and very helpful. I would love to see your decipher my current food that I’m feeding Titan, if you’re game. 🙂 I definitely need to pass this along. Some people just don’t get it 🙁
    Bren recently posted…What’s Shakin at Castle TitanMy Profile

    • We are game. Let us know what you are feeding– brand and formula.
      steve recently posted…Ingredient Labels, Grains, and Some DataMy Profile

    • Awesome! It’s Source for Pets – Lamb and Brown Rice
      Bren recently posted…Animal Control Laws Are Slim to None in My CountyMy Profile

      • Bren-

        We don’t have this brand in our database yet (but we will add it- thanks for the tip). Eyeballing the ingredient list – it looks pretty decent. One thing that stands out negatively is that Poultry Fat is in the list, which we are not happy about.

        How long have you been using this brand and what did you switch from?
        steve recently posted…Ingredient Labels, Grains, and Some DataMy Profile

        • Thanks for checking it out! We’ve been using it off and on for like the past 8 months now. I say off and on because we previously were using Castor & Pollux and it started affecting his stools. I believe they had a formulation change after Merrick bought them out, however they deny it. So we were looking for something good and something we could get local. I liked the ingredients on the list especially the veggies and the no corn, soy, or wheat as Titan has allergies. We tried the other 2 flavors but this one he likes best. He’s stools are awesome and he really likes it.

          It’s always scary trying something new but he does so well on this, I just get a tad paranoid sometimes it’s too good to be true. 🙂
          Bren recently posted…What’s Shakin at Castle TitanMy Profile

  2. So interesting! We are guessing that they contain more fats over proteins and carbohydrates, but we will stay tuned for the answer!
    Finn recently posted…The Collars Are Here!My Profile

  3. Y’all are brilliant. Thank you for sharing valuable nutrient information! Marketing geniuses can be evil people and it’s nice to know what wool they’re pulling over our eyes.
    Flea recently posted…Steer Sticks – The Other White Meat and GiveawayMy Profile

  4. Most likely it will be more carbs (which is not good). Can’t wait to read next week follow-up post. Happy Tasty Tuesday. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar
    SUGAR: Golden Woofs recently posted…Red White and Blue Icy Refreshing Dog TreatsMy Profile

  5. This series of posts in fantastic! You are all geniuses…we wouldn’t even know where to begin calculating such things. Thank you for providing us with really great information!
    Oz the Terrier recently posted…Tasty Tuesday: Nip and Bones Buffalo Paddywack Dog Chew ReviewMy Profile

  6. I’ve never tried to analyze food like this…I’m guessing protein the highest, then carbs and fat at the low end…curious to see the answer
    GizmoGeodog recently posted…Guest Blogger on Tasty Tuesday – Things Dogs Should Not Eat – Or Should They?My Profile

  7. Great series. We know the answer to your protein/carb ration questions, but we won’t spoil your big reveal. It was something we studied extensively in my nutrition classes :0) At the time, I was definitely surprised.
    Kolchak, Felix & Jodi recently posted…How to Make Flavoured Water for DogsMy Profile

  8. I’m guessing more carbs than protein, and higher in fat than they should be. But maybe I’ve just become cynical since learning more about this! 🙂 We just switched over to Fromm’s Adult Gold from Purina Pro Plan. We think it’s a step up, but still not sure if it’s as good as we want for our dogs. It did come highly recommended from the supply store we shop at.
    Jan K recently posted…Wordless Wednesday MysteryMy Profile

  9. I don’t know about average foods. We just try to find a food with enough protein and fat for our athletic dogs. 🙂
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Wordless Wednesday–TrainingMy Profile

    • Good for you. Dogs need lots of protein and fat and the athletic ones even more so they can repair and rebuild their muscle.
      steve recently posted…Dear Labby – Genetic Disease?My Profile

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