Ingredient Splitting


Finding the right food for your dog is difficult enough, if all foods were created equal, but they aren't. In fact, some dog food companies spend a disproportionate amount on branding and marketing then the actual product that they are selling.

Ingredient splitting is one practice that companies use to make their product appear more appealing to the consumer (you and me). Add that to a well-designed package and you think you think you are buying a quality food for your dog but its really just smoke and mirrors.

What is ingredient splitting?

Ingredient splitting is the misleading practice of dividing a more abundant (inferior) ingredient into smaller portions of similar items. In other words, it's a sneaky way to elevate a more desirable ingredient, like meat, to a higher spot on the ingredient list, while lowering the spot of a less desirable ingredient like rice or corn.


Obviously, if you glanced at both labels, you would choose the bag with chicken meal ranked number one, not realizing both bags contain exactly the same product.

Keeping this in mind, don't rely on packaging claims that meat is the first ingredient. The ingredients can be manipulated to change their order.

Don’t place excessive value on claims that meat is the first ingredient. Keep in mind, the ingredients can be manipulated to change their order.

What to Look for?

When reading a label, here are some suggestions to identify ingredient splitting:

Ingredients matter. Beautiful packaging is always appealing, but it's the ingredients that matter most. Always check the ingredient list.


Don’t put too much value in the first ingredient but look at the first 5 ingredients to determine the most abundant items in any dog food formula.

Look for evidence of ingredient splitting. Be skeptical when you find multiple versions of similar ingredients clustered together near the top of the list. For example, if you find corn meal, and corn flour included in the first 5 items of a recipe, you can be fairly certain the main ingredient in the food is not meat.


Some other examples to look for when ingredient splitting can occur:

Corn: Corn gluten meal, corn flour, and whole ground corn
Rice: whole rice, white rice, rice flour, and rice bran
Potatoes: dried potatoes, potato starch, potato protein, and potato flour

For reviews on many dog foods, visit the Dog Food Advisor site. They have over 5,700 reviews.

To find out more about healthy feeding, here are some of our previous posts: