Our scoring system

See how we’re scoring each category with our traffic light system.

Please note that this tool has been devised with an adult dog in mind. Certain types of dog food might score poorly because of this.

Find out more

Meat

We’ve scored the meat category in our tool based on the total meat types identified on the label and not on a dry matter basis. The score also includes digests such as gravy and broth but does not include fats.

There is less than 26% meat listed in this dog food. It is likely that a large portion of the protein comes from plant-derived sources rather than animal-derived sources. This score is based on the quantities of named ingredients set by The European Pet Food Industry.

There is between 26% and 59% meat listed in this dog food. It is likely that meat is the first, listed ingredient in the food and is used by the manufacturer as the main source of protein.

There is at least 60% meat in this dog food. The majority of the protein content comes from animal-derived sources.

This food does not state the exact quantity of meat used therefore we cannot score it. Take a look at the full ingredients to get a better picture of the meat sources.

Fats

We’ve scored the fat category in our tool based on the quality of the first listed fat or oil in a given dog food. The majority of pet foods will have added fats or oils to ensure palatability and to provide essential fatty acids.

This dog food contains unnamed animal or plant based fats or oils. These tend to be of lower quality and digestibility. As they are not specifically named, it also means that the quality of the fat or oil can change from batch to batch without you knowing.

This dog food contains a named source of fat or oil. The palatability and level of fatty acids is likely to be higher than that of unnamed animal or plant based fats.

This dog food contains either a species specific fat or oil or a named vegetable oil that is high in quality and digestibility. The level of fatty acids are of a high standard and, as they are all specifically named, will remain the same from batch to batch.

This food does not list any fats or oils used therefore we cannot score it. Take a look at the full ingredients to get a better picture of the quality of ingredients used.

Carbohydrates

We’ve scored the carbs category in our tool based on the analytical components (crude protein, fat, fibre or ash) or the manufacturer’s stated value. If moisture is not stated then 10% is used as this is the average found in dry kibble.

This dog food contains more than 50% carbs, far more than what is needed to make kibble. Carbs, ideally, should be kept in proportion to protein and fat levels. This is important as any excess glucose from carbohydrate breakdown not converted to glycogen will turn into fat.

This dog food contains between 35% and 49% carbs. It’s likely that this food still contains a decent amount of quality protein and healthy fats too.

This dog food contains less than 35% carbs which means most of the food will be made up of quality protein and healthy fats.

This food is missing one of the analytical components needed to work out the carbohydrate score (crude protein, fat, fibre or ash) nor is it explicitly listed by the manufacturer. For this reason, we cannot score it.

To retrieve the carb quantity of the dog foods in our tool we used a simple calculation based on the “Analytical components” listed in the ingredients.

Nasties

We’ve given the title of “nasty” to anything artificial added to a dog food. Be that artificial flavour, colouring or preservative. We’ve scored the nasties category based on the quantity of nasties used in a given dog food.

This dog food contains two or more artificial ingredients. This suggest that other low quality ingredients may be being used when it comes to the other categories too.

This dog food contains one artificial ingredient.

This dog food contains no artificial ingredients. Only natural preservatives are used (such as rosemary, citric acid or thyme extracts).

Calories

Whilst we display the calorie count in the tool, we don’t actually give it a score. Dog food brands do not legally have to show the calorie count on their packaging.

Lower quality foods are likely to be less energy dense and less digestible than higher quality ones and therefore a dog will tend to eat more and hence put on weight.

Senior and Light dog foods

This tool has been devised with the adult dog in mind. This being said, you may notice that dog foods specific to senior dogs or dogs with weight issues may receive a “Poor” carbohydrate score.

This could be a deliberate choice made by the manufacturer as there may be some evidence that senior and/or overweight do not need as much protein or fat in their diet.

Complementary wet food

This tool has been devised to score complete dog foods - i.e. one food that should provide all the nutritional value needed for an average dog. Some wet food is specifically made to be used in addition to other complete dog foods. The scoring for complementary foods will be affected because of this (look out for the flag on these foods!).

Meat

We’ve scored the meat category in our tool based on the total meat types identified on the label and not on a dry matter basis. The score also includes digests such as gravy and broth but does not include fats.

There is less than 26% meat listed in this dog food. It is likely that a large portion of the protein comes from plant-derived sources rather than animal-derived sources. This score is based on the quantities of named ingredients set by The European Pet Food Industry.

There is between 26% and 59% meat listed in this dog food. It is likely that meat is the first, listed ingredient in the food and is used by the manufacturer as the main source of protein.

There is at least 60% meat in this dog food. The majority of the protein content comes from animal-derived sources.

This food does not state the exact quantity of meat used therefore we cannot score it. Take a look at the full ingredients to get a better picture of the meat sources.

Goodies

We’ve given the title of “goody” to anything that’s been added to a dog food to improve the overall wellbeing of your dog. These include: herbs, plants, algae, joint supplements, fruits, seeds and prebiotics. Even though the concentrations of some of these goodies may be low they still offer nutritional benefits over and beyond the minimum.

This dog food meets the nutritional requirements set out by FEDIAF (European Pet Food Industry) but does not contain any additional goodies.

This dog food contains one to two added goodies.

This dog food contains three or more added goodies. This is a good indicator of a quality food.

Nasties

Most wet food does not contain any artificial preservatives as the recipes are heated then sealed. Because of this, we’ve given the title of “nasty” in wet food to any controversial ingredients including: added sugars, an over-reliance on protein-boosting plants (especially if unnamed), added salt or humectants.

This dog food contains two or more controversial ingredients.

This dog food contains one controversial ingredient.

This dog food contains no controversial ingredients. This is a good indicator of a quality food.

Calories

Whilst we display the calorie count in the tool, we don’t actually give it a score. Dog food brands do not legally have to show the calorie count on their packaging.

Lower quality foods are likely to be less energy dense and less digestible than higher quality ones and therefore a dog will tend to eat more and hence put on weight.

Senior and Light dog foods

This tool has been devised with the adult dog in mind. Diets formulated for senior dogs or dogs with weight issues will have different levels of protein. This being said, the total meat percentages for these foods may differ to those for adult dogs.

Meet the Vet

Andrew Bucher

Veterinarian, BSc BVSc MRCVS

Paws vet Andrew has seriously high standards when it comes to pet nutrition. As part of our dog-crazy team of experts, he’s on a mission to help you do the best for your pup, starting with food.