I was in the grocery store yesterday, and like I always do, sort of did a double take at what some of the brands are charging for their food.
Clients come in every day and say that they are feeding their dogs high quality, all natural food- a common example would be something like Beneful– believing it is top quality food simply based on the marketing. But when they go back and read the label, they are inevitably surprised.
“I can’t afford the really expensive food,” is something I hear every day. And I understand- I really do!- that when times are tough people need to compromise. But the point I really want to drive home is that you don’t need to feed your pet super premium dog food to improve the quality of what they eat- you just need to be willing to read labels.
For my Incredibly Unscientific Study of the Day, I decided to take 2 adult maintenance dog foods and compare the price per kilocalorie of food as a general way to compare cost. You can’t compare just price per ounce, as the amount of nutrients per cup of food varies widely from food to food. It’s harder than it looks- food labels can be tricky beasts.
The numbers are approximate- obviously the calculations vary depending on the size of the bag, so I tried to calculate two similar size bags of food. OK, let’s begin:
Contender One: Pedigree with Lamb and Rice Adult
Widely available and heavily marketed, this food describes itself as “Easy to digest: real lamb, wholesome rice. Made with highly-digestible ingredients like real lamb meat and rice — and no fillers or artificial flavors.”
Let’s look at the first 5 ingredients, which is a nice rule of thumb for evaluating the majority components of a food:
Ground Whole Corn, Chicken By-product Meal, Ground Wheat, Meat And Bone Meal, Animal Fat
Where’s the lamb and rice? Somewhere beneath “meat and bone meal”. Remember, according to pet food label rules a food need only have 3% lamb and rice to say “with”.
The price is $23.46 for 16.3 lb bag on Amazon. At 3450 kcal/kg of food, this works out to about of 1088 kilocalories of food for every dollar you spend.
Contender 2: Evangers Chicken with Brown Rice
Available in many feed stores in North America and online, but not as widely distributed as Contender 1.
The first 5 ingredients:
Chicken, Ground Brown Rice, Chicken Meal, Potato Product, Pearled Barley
Their online price is $26.98 for 16.5 lb bag.
At 3850 kcal/kg , the food works out to be about 1070 kcal per dollar of food.
Almost the exact same.
Pet nutrition is a huge topic with thousands of variables, but I think the number one skill for any pet owner to get the hang of is label reading. You don’t always have to spend more money to improve the quality of what your pets are eating. You really can pay a premium for packaging and good “looks”.
No one is arguing that there is no correlation between quality and price- Orijen Adult, for example, is approximately 767 kcal per dollar- a bit more expensive. Hopefully this indicates the quality of those calories is very high.
Let’s look: Their first five ingredients are “Fresh deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, russet potato, fresh deboned pacific salmon.” In this case, the ingredient list justifies the cost. In my opinion. 😉
Obviously this is the tip of the iceberg on this topic, but if it gets the dialogue going I can certainly expand and do more posts. Who else label reads? It’s pretty fascinating.
Small print: Company selection was random and not the result of any solicitation. I encourage you to try it on your own and see what you come up with!