Dog Food Label

How to Read an IAMS™ Dog Food Label: Dates, Shelf Life and Guaranteed Analysis

Taking care of your dog can mean a lot of things — from vet visits to belly rubs — and one of them is making sure they’re getting the right amount of healthy nutrition every day. The best way to understand your dog’s food is by reading the label, but unless you know how to read a dog food label, you may find yourself making that classic confused canine face yourself!

Let’s dive into two very important kinds of information you’ll find on every package of IAMS™ dog food: dates and shelf life.

What Do the Letters and Numbers on Dog Food Labels Mean?  

The series of letters and numbers printed on the outer package of each product is called a product code, and it provides information about when the product was made.

As part of the product code, IAMS™ products include a "Best Used By" date. After that date the contents aren’t considered fresh and should no longer be sold. The date portion of the product code will look like either “ddmmyy” or “ddmmmyy” in line one. Depending on the kind of product and packaging, the “Best Used By” date information may appear in a single or double line. Line two of the product code contains details used for product tracing and inventory control.

By recognizing and understanding how product codes work, you’ll be able to determine how fresh your dog’s food is.

What’s a Dog Food’s Shelf Life?

Your dog’s food’s shelf life is measured in months and tells you how long it can maintain its freshness if stored properly. For example, if a product has a 16-month shelf life, the means it’ll stay fresh and delicious for up to 16 months from the date it was made.

All our dry dog and cat foods have a shelf life of 16 months, while all our wet formulas have a shelf life of 24 months.

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What’s “Guaranteed” in the Guaranteed Analysis?

The guaranteed analysis is a breakdown of the nutrients in your dog's food. Amounts in the guaranteed analysis are noted with either minimum or maximum guaranteed percentage — a maximum guarantee (% max) means the dog food won’t include MORE than that percentage, while a minimum guarantee (% min) means it won’t include LESS.

These four nutrients are included in the guaranteed analysis on all IAMS™ pet food labels:

  • Crude Protein (% min)
  • Crude Fat (% min)
  • Crude Fiber (% max)
  • Moisture (% max)

The guaranteed analysis can help you compare products, but it doesn't include other nutritional information about the food’s nutrient density or energy content. Those important details can be found elsewhere on the label.

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How Should I Store Dog Food to Keep It Fresh? 

Storing your dog’s food is an important part of keeping it as fresh as possible and making the most of its whole shelf life. It’s best to store unopened bags of dry dog food up off the floor in a cool, dry place. Open bags, on the other hand, should be stored in a clean, dry container with a tight seal. Dry dog food can also be frozen without losing its nutrients.

Unopened wet dog food should be stored in dry places, ideally where cans aren’t likely to be dented or punctured from falling or other accidents. Opened wet food is best kept refrigerated in tightly sealed containers for no more than three days after it’s been opened. If you’d like to freeze wet dog food, remove the food from the container, pack it in freezer-friendly containers and then freeze it immediately. Wet products should not be frozen in their unopened containers.

IAMS™ dog food labels are there to help you understand what’s in your four-legged friend’s food. If you’re a proud puppy parent, puppy food nutrition labels will have all the specific information you need. By learning how to read dog food labels, you’re making sure you can make the best possible decisions about their food, their health and their well-being!