It’s almost overwhelming when you visit a pet store and wander down the mile long aisles of pet food. Thousands of pet food brands all seem to say the very same thing — 100% Complete Nutrition and ‘Premium’ and ‘Choice’. The brand your vet sells costs around $30.00 for a 20 pound bag, the brand your neighbor told you about costs $40.00 for a 16 pound bag, and what about the brand you see all the commercials on TV about? It costs only $18.00 for a 20 pound bag. Things are tight with your budget; since all pet foods appear to be the same (complete nutrition, premium, choice) –- doesn’t that TV brand seem the best to save money?
The truth of the matter is the discount pet food brand is actually more expensive per serving than many of the highest priced brands. Yes, you read that correctly. The explanation for this is found on the feeding instructions and the ingredients in the pet food itself. Every pet is different, and the amount of food your pet eats per day also varies with age and activity level. But according to the feeding instructions as researched and recommended by each pet food manufacturer, you will probably be surprised at the cost per serving.
The pet foods compared for this report are actual pet foods; all information on price and feeding instructions has been taken from the manufacturer’s web site and from a popular pet food retailing website.
According to the web site of one of the most popular brands of dog food sold in the U.S., the feeding instructions tell you that a thirty pound dog would need to eat around three cups of food per day. The cost of this pet food breaks down to being about $.67 per cup. So that means Fido would eat $2.01 worth of dog food each day according to the recommended feeding instructions on the label.
But on the other hand, from a web site of a high end, all human grade ingredients, all U.S. ingredients dog food –- the feeding instructions tell you that a thirty pound dog would need to eat around 1 ½ cups of food per day. The cost of this food is about $1.16 per cup. This food seems to be about twice as expensive as the popular brand. However, according to the recommended feeding amount, Fido would eat $1.74 worth of dog food each day. That’s a savings of $.27 per day to feed your dog a high quality, human grade ingredients, no risky imports dog food.
Isn’t that interesting? Now, let’s look at canned cat food. Again, from the label of one of the most popular brands of canned cat food sold in the U.S., the feeding instructions recommend a fifteen pound cat to eat five 3 oz. cans per day. At $.80 cents per 3 oz. can, Fluffy would be consuming $4.00 worth of cat food each day according to the recommended feeding instructions on the label.
But with a high end, all human grade ingredients, all U.S. ingredients canned cat food, the feeding instructions tell you a fifteen pound cat should eat three 5.5 ounce cans per day. At a cost of $1.29 per 5.5 oz. can, Fluffy would be consuming $3.87 worth of cat food each day. That is a savings of $.13 per day to feed your cat a high quality, human grade ingredients, no risky imports cat food.
Some example pet foods that you find at Walmart, Target, and other discount retailers are Beneful, Friskies, Pedigree, Meow Mix, Kibbles & Bits, and Fancy Feast. All of these pet foods are perceived by pet owners to be ‘affordable’ options to feed their dog or cat. Other less known brands available at pet shops and online that have a higher price tag such as Canidae, Felidae, Orijen, Life’s Abundance, Wysong, and Wellness are perceived by pet owners to be ‘high end’ pet foods — unaffordable options. Here’s where they stand on price per serving — listed lowest to highest cost per day.
Dry Dog Food – Daily Recommended Serving for a 30 lbs. dog,
Cost per day:
* Canidae $.80
* Orijen $1.25
* Blue Buffalo $1.29
* Wysong $1.34
* Science Diet $1.42
* Kibbles & Bits $1.49
* Purina ONE $1.52
* Beneful $1.70
* Pedigree $1.80
Dry Cat Food – Daily Recommended Serving for a 14 lbs. cat,
Cost per day:
* 9Lives $.52
* Felidae $.72
* Friskies $.76
* Purina $.97
* Meow Mix $1.00
* Wellness $1.08
* Fancy Feast $1.17
* Blue Buffalo $1.21
Canned Dog Food – Daily Recommended Serving for a 30 lbs. dog,
Cost per day:
* Canidae $1.56
* Blue Buffalo $2.68
* Mighty Dog $4.98
* Pedigree $5.40
* Beneful $6.87
Canned Cat Food – Daily Recommended Serving for a 14 lbs. cat,
Cost per day:
* 9Lives $2.44
* Felidae $2.50
* Iams $2.90
* Blue Buffalo $3.09
* Meow Mix $7.02
Please Note: The above price list does not reflect any opinion on quality of the pet food ingredients. It is a price comparison. For a quality of ingredients/cost per serving comparison, pet owners need an understanding of a few common pet food ingredient definitions, should call the manufacturer to learn grade of ingredients and country of origin of ingredients (U.S. or China).
You might be thinking that the high priced pet foods simply put a smaller suggested serving size on the label so their foods don’t appear to be so expensive. The recommended serving size for the high end pet foods is less because more nutrition is provided in the food, thus less needs to be eaten. Think about this… if for a month you ate nothing but corn chips and salsa; all day long, every day for a month, nothing but chips and salsa. Each day, to keep yourself from starving you would eat four or five bags of chips and several bowls of salsa. Let’s say each bag of chips costs $2.00 and each bowl of salsa costs $1.00. Five bags of chips a day, three bowls of salsa a day equals $13.00 per day, or $390.00 for 30 days. Now, for the next month you will eat two chicken breasts, a salad, and baked potato each day. Each chicken breast costs $3.00, salad costs $2.00, baked potato costs $1.00. That’s $9.00 per day or $270.00 for 30 days. A savings of $120.00 by eating ‘real’ food each day.
Now let’s look at this comparison another way –- by volume. Each bag of corn chips is eight cups and each bowl of salsa is one cup. Per day you would be consuming 43 cups of food. On the other hand each chicken breast is two cups, salad two cups and potato one cup. The ‘real’ food is seven cups by volume per day. So, comparing volume, you will be eating 36 more cups of food when you are on the corn chips and salsa diet (don’t try this at home) than compared to the chicken breast and veggies diet. Plus you’ll be spending $120.00 more a month. And that’s not even considering the health benefits from eating the ‘real’ food. The same logic can be applied to what your pet is eating. Now you have a better understanding of why the recommended feeding amounts are so different; it’s the ingredients in the food that makes the difference in serving size.
Maybe I haven’t ‘sold’ you yet — let me remind you that the popular dog food brand contains by-products (chicken feet, cow intestines, lungs, spleens), imported ingredients from ‘Asian sources’, and risky chemical preservatives. The high quality dog food uses all human grade meat ingredients (No chicken feet, cow intestines, lungs, spleens), all U.S. ingredients, and natural preservatives. The savings you would have in your pocket from Not feeding the seemingly discounted brand is $.27 per day — over $98.00 per year. The popular cat food brand uses by-products (chicken feet, cow intestines, lungs, spleens), imports ingredients from “Foreign Sources”, and the can lining contains BPA (a carcinogen). The high quality cat food uses all human grade meat ingredients (No chicken feet, cow intestines, lungs, spleens), no imports, no BPA in the can lining. The savings you would have in your pocket from Not feeding the seemingly discounted brand is $.13 per day –- over $47.00 per year.
The above is 100% factual information. The discount food is not the cheapest pet food out there, but it’s close. The high end food is not the most expensive out there, but it’s in the ‘ballpark’ price range of most high-end pet foods.
Just in case you are thinking your dog or cat will be starving eating less food per day of one of those high quality pet foods, actually quite the opposite is true. Let me share with you my own testimonial. My 93 pound German Shepherd eats only two cups of food per day. I feed him a very high end dog food that costs around $.95 per cup. This means he eats about $1.90 of food per day; $693.50 worth of high quality ingredient dog food per year. He’s 13 ½ years old and in excellent health (minus some arthritis). I feed him less per day than what the label recommends — due to his age and the extreme high quality of the food. Now, according to the feeding instructions of the most popular (sort of discount) brand of dog food I used in the example above, I would need to feed my big boy six cups a day. This is three times the amount of food as he eats now. Six cups of the seemingly discounted food costs $4.02 per day –- $1,467.30 a year. I am saving over $770.00 per year to feed him human grade ingredients, no imported ingredients, and no risky chemicals by not feeding him by-products, risky imports and dangerous chemicals. No he doesn’t beg for more food, no he’s not skinny; he’s healthy and vibrant. And no I don’t buy in bulk, I buy twenty pound bags of dog food.
Please don’t look at the price of the bag or can of pet food when considering what to feed your pet. As the four charts show you above — there is far more to consider than the cost of the bag or can of pet food. Look at the ingredients (at least the first five) and consider cost per serving. Avoid pet foods with ingredients like by-products and chemical preservatives (BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin). Learn if ingredients are from U.S. sources. The actual savings of purchasing high quality dog and cat foods goes far beyond dollars per year, the true savings could be years added to your pet’s life. If you are already feeding a high quality pet food — and saving money — now you have bragging rights! When you see your neighbor or sister-in-law buying that pet food that appears to be cheaper according to the price tag, tell them the truth is they are spending far more money. Send them this report! Feeding high quality is cheaper and many, many pet owners (including myself) will tell you it’s healthier too!
Here is how you calculate cost per serving:
1) XYZ Dog Food sells for $12.00 for an eight pound bag.
2) Eight pounds into $12.00 = $1.50 per pound
3) Two cups (estimate) per pound = $.75 per cup.
4) Multiply suggested feeding amount (cups per day) X cost per cup = Cost per serving.
1) XYZ Cat Food sells for $19.00 for a case of 24-3 oz cans.
2) Twenty four into $19.00 = $.80 per can
3) Multiply suggested feeding amount (cans per day) X cost per can = Cost per serving.
By the way, it is best to feed adult dogs and cats twice a day. The nutrition provided in just one meal a day is difficult for your pet to utilize over a 24 hour period. If you currently only feed one meal a day, split the amount of that one meal into two meals. If you change pet foods –- especially for dogs –- switch slowly. I always recommend ¼ new food to ¾ old food for 4 to 7 days, then ½ to ½ for another 4 to 7 days, and so on. The moisture content in canned foods is especially beneficial for cats. Cats just don’t drink enough water. But because of the high moisture in canned pet foods, more of the food needs to be eaten to provide the correct nutritional requirements. And make sure the canned food does not contain BPA in the lining. Save yourself some money — buy high quality dog foods and cat foods.
Wishing you and your pet the best,
About the author:
Susan Thixton has an international pet people following providing dog and cat lovers a trusted source for pet food and pet food ingredient information. She’s been called courageous, perseverant, even “the Caped Crusader for Pets” for her 16 year study of pet food. Susan Thixton is the author of hundreds of pet industry articles and the 2006 released book Truth About Pet Food (currently being updated for a second edition). She developed and publishes the pet product consumer magazine Petsumer Report and is a frequent speaker and radio guest all over the U.S. and Canada with more than 70 appearances in the last 2 years.
If you are looking for straight forward pet food information that can have an almost immediate impact on your pet’s health – subscribe to the free newsletter, and subscribe to Petsumer Report to see reviews of close to 700 dog and cat foods and treats (adding 40+ each month). Susan Thixton’s ‘truth’ will help you find a safer, healthier dog or cat food that could add years to your pet’s life. http://www.TruthAboutPetFood.com
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