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How to compare the cost of pet foods

Apr 8, 2008
I recently received an email asking my opinion about a couple of different types of pet foods - what I thought about the quality of the foods. Both of the pet foods he asked about (which he was feeding his 'family') were what I considered to be very inferior foods. I informed him of this and his response was that they probably couldn't afford a better food.

While I understand that better quality dog and cat foods can be two or even three times more expensive than some of the cheaper brands, folks who think they can't afford it, unfortunately, will 'pay' in the end. When a pet is sick with kidney or liver disease, when a pet must be treated for skin irritations and ear infections - vet bills to 'fix' the health concern cost pet owners far more than the 'few cents' a meal to feed them quality nutrition. And I'm often questioned about this 'few cents a meal' theory - but before you question me too, let me explain.

Many pet owners experience 'sticker stock' when looking at a better quality pet food. They look at the price tag and gasp when thinking how fast Fido or Fluffy goes through that bag of food. What they don't understand is that with better quality dog or cat foods, you don't feed nearly as much as with the cheap pet foods. Cheap foods have cheap 'filler' ingredients that doesn't satisfy the nutritional needs of the pet - thus they tend to eat a great deal more attempting to get the nutrition their body is telling them they need. On average, dogs and cats that eat higher quality pet foods (higher quality ingredients) consume about 1/3 less than that of a cheaper inferior food.

So let's break it down to cost per meal Let's say your pet currently eats 1 cup of food per day. A 20 pound bag of food will provide you with about 50 servings. If the food costs you $15.00 for a 20 pound bag - that equals about .30 per meal. Now with a good quality pet food - feeding about 1/3 less - a 20 pound bag will provide you about 80 servings. If the better food costs $30.00 for a 20 pound bag - that breaks down to a little less than .38 cents a meal.

Even if the price tag of a high quality pet food looks to be twice as expensive as the cheaper brand - it is actually far from the truth. With the example above, at $.30 cents per meal, two meals a day, in one month you are spending about $18.00 to feed your dog or cat with the cheap pet food. However, with the higher quality pet food, at $.38 cents per meal, two meals a day, in one month you are spending only $22.80. Less than $5.00 per month difference for far better nutrition for your pet. It's necessary to look at the cost per meal to completely consider the price of a pet food.

With better, higher quality pet foods, your pet does not need to eat as much as with the cheaper inferior quality foods. Don't let that old habit of feeding more sway you when you change to a higher quality pet food - again, with higher quality ingredients your pet will just not need as much food. In most cases, if you switch your pet to a high quality pet food and continue to feed the same amount as with the lesser quality brand - your pet will gain weight.

The exact serving size varies from pet to pet. If your dog or cat has no 'figure' or shows no waist, chances are they need to lose a few pounds. Just cut back the serving size a little. Or, if you can visibly see ribs, then you probably need to slightly increase the serving size. Also, a cup of food a day for a two year old pet will probably be too much food when they are a little older. It is best to continue to monitor your pets weight.

And please don't just look at the cost of the bag of food, look at (at least) the first five ingredients and consider the cost of the serving.
About the Author
Learn the truth about pet food. To read more articles about how to select a healthier pet food for your dog or cat visit www.TruthAboutPetFood.com. Subscribe to the free newsletter and Petsumer Report.
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