Is Expensive Dog food, Better Dog Food?

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If you’ve ever looked at a bag of dog food and thought, “they’re all the same aren’t they? Dog food is dog food!” – please for the love of dogs read on! The price of dog food certainly does reflect the cost of the ingredients and processes used to create it, just as it would for any food or product whether it’s for humans or animals. The more expensive something is to create, the higher the price tag. There are definitely other things to consider such as brand and perceived value, but, when it comes to food it’s mostly ingredient cost.

Knowing this information, go and take a look at your dogs food, wet or dry, doesn’t matter, just look at the first 3-5 ingredients, the cost of the bag (or can/roll/container) and then how much your dog needs to eat of it to get their total daily nutrition. This will give you an excellent indication of what you’re actually feeding your dog. We’ll go through this formula more below.
Don’t worry, I won’t babble about feeding Raw or anything specific. You have the right to choose your own dogs food – but I might not be able to help myself from recommending my fav brand when asked! 😛 

Feeding Myths & Misconceptions

1. Grain Free is a Healthier Option
Not really, for dogs who are allergic to a certain grain, removing that from their diet is of course necessary and therefore, healthier for them. But, feeding your dog grain free simply because of the implication of it being ‘healthier’ is not correct. Many people believe once they switched to grain free, amazing things happened for their dog – I can assure you, the amazing thing was that they were no longer eating fatty, sugary fillers or they had an allergy to a present grain that is now gone. 
Cheap dog food = cheap fillers such as cereals/corn/maize/wheat glutton. Canned food is a great example as cereals are often disguised as ‘Meaty Chunks!’ – which are cereals covered in flavour. Damn you advertising!

Good quality dog food contains nutritious grains that are beneficial to a dog’s health not used just to make your dog feel full – like how we might eat a piece of toast if we’re feeling peckish but we know it’s not really nutritious. There’s a study (a vet study) that even suggests a lack of good grain in a dog’s diet to be linked to heart disease.

2. The best food to buy, is one endorsed or made by vets.
There is no doubt in my mind that the food your vet recommends for your particular dog will be perfectly fine for them, after all, they’re your vet. What I’m referring to is vet endorsed or vet created food. Basically, don’t trust the person handing it over to you. Read the ingredients list and make an informed decision. Science Diet is a classic example of this. Commonly sold in clinics due to their prescription diets which make dogs who would otherwise be uncomfortable or actually sick, much better. But, they use meat-by-product instead of clean meat and organ tissue. So, if you don’t need it, don’t feed it. Your dog deserves better.

3. Human Food is all Bad!
I used to agree with this statement until I realised, it’s not all bad. If you decide to feed your dog what you eat – make sure the ingredients are safe, nutritionally balanced and in the correct quantities, oh and please portion control your dog. A lot goes into formulating dog food and it’s honestly not that easy to give them a fully cooked or raw diet and be sure all the nutrients they need are there. However, supplementing your dog’s diet with fresh foods is excellent. A piece of apple on a hot day will also help clean their teeth, a carrot to munch on and play with, some berries on top of their dinner, all great and healthy ways to supplement without causing any issues.

Now that we’ve gotten rid of the usual myths, I wanted to debunk the price factor immediately so that feeding our dogs doesn’t have to be about the price. I’ll also touch base on the ingredients, but so that we don’t have to get too technical, we’ll stick with the main 3-4 ingredients.

The Maths
For those who feed by Cups

1 Cup = 128g
The calculation we’re using is:
Bag/Portion = Meals Per Bag
Bag Price/Meals Per Bag = Price Per Meal
Eg: 20kg Bag / 0.135kg = 148.15
$47.95/148.15 = .32 cents per Meal (or day)

Now lets take a look at 2 common dog food varieties and try to work out which is best for the Example Dogs.

The Test
Example Dog 1
10kg Adult Dog, Average Activity Level

Pedigree Vital Adult Mince & Veggies Dog Food
20kg Bag – $47.95
Recommended Feeding: 160g/day
125 feedings/20kg bag
Cost/Meal= $0.38
Cost Per Year – $143.85

Cereals &/or cereal by-products, meat & meat by-products (poultry, beef &/or lamb), poultry palatant, vegetables, beet pulp, iodised salt, minerals (iron, zinc, copper, potassium and selenium), sunflower oil, vitamins (A, D3, E, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12 and choline), amino acid, antioxidants.

Next up,

Meals4Mutts Kangaroo & Lamb
20kg = $97.49
Recommended Feeding: 135g/Day
148.14 feedings/20kg bag
Cost/Meal = $0.66
Cost Per Year – $292.47

Kangaroo meat and lamb meat, ground brown rice, seasonal vegetables, peas, alfalfa, natural fats and oils, omega 3, 6 and 9, yeast, garlic, kelp, vitamins A, C, D3, E, K, B1, B2, B6, B12, niacin, pantothenic acid, folacin, biotin and natural organic acids, plus minerals, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, copper, zinc, iron, manganese and iodineYucca Shidigera extract and natural flavours. Preserved using natural vitamin E and rosemary extract.

Cost $0.28/ Meal $0.66/Meal
Main Ingredients Cereals, meat by products, chicken flavour Kangaroo & lamb meat, brown rice, vegetables
Bag Lasts ~125 days ~148 days

You can see from this little test, although Pedigree is cheaper, in the long run, you’re not paying much more for a far superior product. Think of it this way, how much do you spend on eating per day? How much do you spend on feeding your children per day? For just under $300 a YEAR, your dog could eat an amazing quality food. Yes, you caught me! Meals For Mutts is my favourite!
You can try this example for any type of food you’re tossing up between. Each dog is an individual, so although the bag may recommend 190g of food, your dog may require more or less. Keep an eye on their weight and lias with your vet if you’re unsure.

Let’s try another example.

Example Dog 2
225kg Adult Dog, Active Lifestyle
*These two brands have very different feeding guidelines so I’ve based the recommended amount on if I were feeding these brands to an active dog – obviously this could vary.

Black Hawk Adult – Fish & Potato
20kg = $142.99
Recommended Feeding: 200g/Day
100 feedings/20kg bag
Cost/Meal = $1.43
Cost Per Year – $571.96

Ocean Fish & Salmon Meal, Potato, Ground Rice, Oats, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols [source of Vitamin E], Citric Acid, Rosemary Extract), Field Peas, Beet Pulp, Fish oil, Canola Oil, Egg Powder, Salt, Chicory, Essential Vitamins & Minerals, Kelp, Natural Antioxidants, Emu Oil, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Glucosamine, Chondroitin Sulphate, Tomato Powder, Carrots, Dried Blueberries, Dandelion, Peppermint, Rosemary, Cranberries.

Supercoat True Origins Adult – Salmon & Ocean Fish
15kg = $69.99
Recommended Feeding: 300g/Day
50 feedings/15kg Bag
Cost/Meal = $1.40Cost
Per Year – $489.93

Salmon & Ocean Fish; Poultry Meal; Wholegrain Wheat; Wholegrain Barley; Vegetable Meals; Wholegrain Corn; Poultry oil and/or by-products; Vegetable proteins; Meat meal and/or by-products; Mineral salts; Humectant; Vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, D3, E), Minerals (Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Chloride, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Selenium, Titanium, Zinc) and amino acids; Beet pulp; Rice; Rosemary extract (natural antioxidant).

Cost $1.43/ Meal $1.40/Meal
Main Ingredients Fish meal, Potato & Ground Rice Fish, Poultry Meal & Wheat
Bag Lasts ~100 days ~50 days

*The bags are different sizes, so, how long the particular bag lasts doesn’t really apply but I threw it in for thought.

This one was a little tricky as they both seem up to scratch – but are really not the same. From the table you can see they end up costing about the same per meal, however, the ingredients are a little tricky to decipher.
Both start with fish which is great, then SC adds chicken to their fish kibble, this is usually done to save money on sourcing fish. BH adds potato to help fill their food. Sweet Potato or Chickpeas would be a healthier option but It’s better than other fillers.
We then have ground rice (white & brown rice blend) for BH which is a healthier starch and wheat for SC which is a cheaper and more readily available starch. Wheat is that grain that has made all the pet food manufacturers start the grain free crusade. Technically, if your dog doesn’t have an allergy to wheat it’s perfectly safe to eat but there are also much better alternatives out there such as wholegrains. (Quinoa, Buckwheat etc.)
If this new SC True Origins was cheaper than BH, I would say for a supermarket brand they’ve made a pretty good dog food that’s also affordable. But, as it’s really not much cheaper, I feel like they’ve skimped out on ingredients to save them money but haven’t passed on the savings.

Using this formula, you can scrutinize any pet food brand to determine its value for money. Personally, to spend a few dollars a day feeding my dog is an easy choice. I can go out for dinner (sometimes even a home cooked meal can be costly) and spend $100 – on ONE dinner. To buy the absolute best dog food could be up to $5/day, in comparison to what I would spend on myself for some good food, buying good dog food is nothing. However, if you do feel like being frugal, you can still follow the formula to buy the best that you can and know you’re still doing right by your dog. 🙂

Need help sorting through ingredients? Send me a message and/or check out my quick dog food ingredient guide here.

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