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Premium Pet Food: Is It Worth The Extra Money?

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Photo Credit: ThinkStock

Photo Credit: ThinkStock

Written by Brooke Wagner This is a rhetorical question, since the only thing that really matters is, is premium pet food worth the extra money to you? Because it is so important to so many pet owners, pet food is a $20 billion a year business, and the debate over what we feed our friends rages online.

When I set out to find some answers to this question, I was overwhelmed by articles on this subject. Here are a few of the nuggets I found:

- There have been precious few long-term, independent studies on pet food.

- Any pet food you choose should be nutritionally balanced. Vets say it should be labeled with a “statement of nutritional adequacy” showing it meets the Association of American Feed Control Officials’ guidelines. Beyond this, companies police their own quality and do their own research to support benefits of additions such as glucosamine or omega-3 fatty acids.

- Just as with people food, the first five ingredients listed on the label tell you a lot about a product’s nutritional value.

- Talk with your vet about your pet’s specific needs. For instance, if he/she is overweight, the vet may want you to use an adult formula, instead of “all stages of life” which is formulated for growth. Your vet has solid ways to check what your dog needs for his/her coat, teeth, weight, etc.

- Pets like to stick with what they’re used to, so if you want to save money, some vets suggest starting your animal on less expensive brands, then switching if necessary.

- Premium pet food doesn’t always contain more balanced nutrition, nor is it immune to recalls or contamination.

- Consumer Reports research found pet food prices are higher online, but for some, it’s worth the convenience of having it delivered.

Millions of people feel very strongly about their pets and believe if they eat natural food their pet should too. Just as we all decide how to fill our own plate, we decide how to fill our best friends’ bowls. That said, leading expert Dr. Tony Buffington, a veterinary nutrition professor at Ohio State University, makes it clear pet owners shouldn’t feel guilty about buying less expensive, but nutritionally balanced brands.
Since I am definitely not an expert, here are some of the most comprehensive articles I could find about the research, cost, and conventional wisdom, if you’d like to read more and make up your own mind:

http://articles.latimes.com … pet-food-20110718/2

http://www.consumerreports.org … premium-pet-food/index.htm

http://www.consumersdigest.com … begging-for-the-truth/P4

About The Blogger

- In her Brooke’s Bargains blog Brooke Wagner writes about finding bargains and saving money for her family. She calls it one of her favorite hobbies. Blog entries cover everything from the latest steals, deals, and freebies to cheap family activities, saving for college, and what to buy right now. Tweet Brooke your ideas at @BrookeCBS4.

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