We are noticing it more and more in our store everyday. Pet parents asking "What's in it?"
When customers come into the store, they sometimes say "I want the cheapest dog food you have". And we usually ask "Cheaper to buy, or Cheaper to feed?" There is a reason for this. Just because a dog food is 'cheap' at the register, doesn't always mean its cheaper to feed. Usually 'cheap' dog food costs you alot more in the long run because you'll have to feed alot more of it to keep a good weight on your dog. Many dogs develop allergies and scratch constantly when fed cheaper dog foods.
Many cheaper dog food manufacturers don't even list the ingredients and they experience many recalls. With cheaper dog foods, you'll have to go looking for the plant that it is made in. Usually these brands are made in the same plants as other lower-cost foods. Wal-marts Ol Roy is manufactured by Doane Pet Food, which is owned by Mars Pet Food. Mars also makes Pedigree. The private label brand such as Ol Roy usually provides less information about whats actually in the food, it might only say "Distributed by xyz" store. The big box store doesn't maintain an exclusive web site for the line of food so there's no info about ingredients, the analysis or any other info. I searched for the actual ingredients in Ol Roy on Walmarts website but couldnt find any.
In this article we'll help you learn how to read a pet food label and help you discover what you should be paying attention to when purchasing pet food for your four-legged friend.
Rule #1: Don't be fooled by a beautiful bag or nationwide ad campaign. You want to flip the bag over and read the ingredients. The AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) warns on their website that "it is not rare at all that labeling and marketing information is designed to appeal to the latest trend in marketing human products." In other words, the focus tends to be more on appealing to our preferences than on whether or not the food is suitable for your pet. For this reason, learn to look behind the marketing hype and to find the real substance of the nutrition status within the pet food
Let's compare the following labels. The top 10 ingredients are always the ones you want to compare, as these contain about 80% of the entire food formula.
What to look for in the label:
You want to see real meat as the first ingredient. Such as chicken, fish or lamb. These are the essential ingredients your pet needs for growth, reproduction and energy. Be aware when you see the first ingredient as corn. Dogs and cats are carnivores and meat should be the basis of their diet.
Whole grains such as barley, oats and brown rice are important as they supply the complex carbs that give your pet his energy and contain healthy fiber that is not found in most proccessed grains. Corn Gluten Meal is a synthetic plant protein and is used as a low quality protein source in lower cost pet foods.
Veggies and fruit, although you might not think your pet would like potatoes or carrots, they provide essential phytonutrients, antioxidants and enzymes, plus natural vitamins, minerals and fibers that promote and maintain health and wellness.
A good rule of thumb to distinguish the major components of a food is to look for the first named source of fat in the ingredient list. Anything listed before that, and including it, make up the main portion of the food, other items are present in much smaller amounts to add flavor, function as preservatives or because of their dietary benefits, such as probiotics, vitamins and minerals.
Here's an example-
~Dog Food #1 has the following ingredient list (first source of fat is underlined for you):
Ground yellow corn, meat meal, chicken fat, ground wheat, chicken byproduct meal, dried beet pulp, flaxseed, salt, vitamins, minerals.
~Dog Food #2 has the following ingredient list (first source of fat is underlined for you):
Turkey, chicken, chicken meal, ground barley, ground brown rice, potatoes, ground white rice, chicken fat, herring, apples, carrots, cottage cheese, sunflower oil, alfalfa sprouts, egg, garlic, probiotics, vitamins, minerals.
Many of us love our pets like family, so why would you feed them something you can't even pronounce?
What's in a Name:
Many pet foods are labeled as "premium," and some now are "super premium" and even "ultra premium." Other products are touted as "gourmet" items. Products labeled as premium or gourmet are not required to contain any different or higher quality ingredients, nor are they held up to any higher nutritional standards than are any other complete and balanced products.
The term "natural" is another that is often used on pet food labels, although this term does not have an official definition either. For the most part, "natural" can be construed as equivalent to a lack of artificial flavors, artificial colors, or artificial preservatives in the product.
Read & Compare Feeding Directions
This little tidbit of information will also give you an idea of what quality the dog food is. Also it will give you a better idea of the actual 'cost' to feed it. The more you have to feed to met your pets nutritional requirements, the more its going to cost, hence our question, "Cheaper to buy, or Cheaper to feed?"
Here's a comparision of 2 dog foods and the manufacturers feeeding directions taken from their websites.
As an example. Currently at leading pet retailer, Blue Buffalo Adult Chicken & Brown Rice 30LB bag retails at $46.99/$1.56 @ lb and a 31.1LB bag of Beneful Adult Original retails at $29.99/0.97 @ lb.
In our example we own a 65LB dog, so we'll follow the feeding guidelines for a 61-80lb dog. 1'cup' = 8oz./2 cups = 1lb.
Blue Buffalo average 3 cups per day = 1 lb 8oz of dog food = daily cost to feed $2.34 = bag will last approx. 20 days
Beneful average 4.5 cups per day = 2 lbs 8 oz per day = daily cost to feed $2.45= bag will last approx 12 days
So after 12 days, you have to go back to the store to buy another bag of the 'cheaper' brand at $29.99. By now you have invested in just dog food alone $59.98, not to mention your time and gas to go back to the pet store to purchase another bag.
Keep this in mind when choosing a dog food. And the same equation can be applied to cat food as well.
So our take on what brands are the best
Although we, (as pet owners ourselves) might not like it (especially our wallets) purchasing the better quailty dog food is going to be better for your dog and in reality, better for your wallet in the long run. Better quality foods contain quality ingredients that are more easily absorbed by your dog, instead of simply passing through him because it is mostly un-usable filler. Lower quality food creates more of odor after it is passed through your dog and usually creates a much looser stool. Better quality foods create a firmer stool with noticeably less odor.
We all want happy, healthy pets and when it comes down to it, don't read the fancy name on the front of the bag, flip it over and read what you're really feeding your pet! They'll thank you for it!
To find out more about your dogs' food, we highly recommend you check out the website~