How Many Ingredients are there in Pet Food

Last week we discussed some common tricks to quickly scan through the long ingredient lists in pet food.  Of course the best way to evaluate your pet’s food is to be fully aware of possible food conflicts (with respect to your pet’s allergies or health issues) and to be able to spot unhealthy (or other undesirable) ingredients in the list.  This is one place that SmartFeeder can help.

How Much is A Lot?

One of the reasons that a pet owner might use a trick (like the rule of 5) to scan their pet food ingredients is due to the sheer number of items in a single recipe.  So we set out to calculate just how many ingredients are in the average pet food.

We analyzed our pet food data and found the average number of ingredients on dry and wet dog and cat food.  Any guesses?


On average, dog food contains 38 ingredients and cat food contains 34 ingredients. We also found the foods with the largest number of ingredients, which turned out to be 91 and 74 for dog and cat food respectively.

It should be pretty apparent from these numbers why the rule of 5 is not sufficient for analyzing a pet food.  After all, 5 ingredients are less than 15% of the total number of ingredients on the list!

Why are there So Many Ingredients in my Pet Food?

You might wonder if long ingredient lists are either good or bad.  In fact, they are neither.  High quality foods can have either longer or shorter lists of ingredients.  One thing to keep in mind is that unlike human food, commercially available pet food is meant to provide a pet a “complete and balanced diet”.  This means that these foods need to cover a broad range of nutrients to provide the body what it needs.  Obviously, this can be harder to do with just a handful of ingredients.

What really matters about the ingredients is not the length of the list, but rather what is actually on the list.  Look for real whole foods and try to avoid foods with artificial colors and preservatives and synthetic vitamin additives.  The SmartFeeder technology will help you identify the “good” and the “bad” so you can make sure that your pet is being fed the most appropriate and healthy food for your individual budget.

Personalize your pet’s daily meals.

Feed the right amount each day with the SmartFeeder and SmartDelivery.