Contrary to popular belief, chicken, lamb or beef listed as the first ingredient on a label is not an indication that the diet is of higher quality or contains more protein.

Legally, ingredients must appear in descending order according to their weight in the diet before they are cooked. The total weight of the ingredient usually includes the water content and fresh meat is generally 75% water.

Some pet food manufacturers list ingredients based on the weight before they have been dehydrated. This leads to confusion about the level of protein in a diet. Dehydrated protein sources, commonly referred to as a meal (e.g. chicken meal), are a more concentrated source of digestible protein.