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Originally published July 25 2008

Shopping for Your Pet: How to Compare Pet Food Prices

by Susan Thixton

(NaturalNews) 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 suffer 'sticker shock' when considering purchasing a better quality food. They look at the price tag and gasp when considering how fast Fido or Fluffy eats that bag of food. What they don't know is that with better quality pet foods, you don't feed as much - cheap foods have cheap filler ingredients that do not satisfy the nutritional needs of the pet, thus they eat a lot more attempting to get the nutrition that their body is telling them they need. Better quality foods/ingredients provide the animal with quality nutrition and they eat on average 1/3 less.

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.

So even though the price tag of the food reads to be twice as expensive, it's actually far from the truth. Using the above example, at $.30 cents per meal, two meals a day, in one month you are spending around $18.00 per month to feed a pet with the inferior food. With the apparent twice as expensive higher quality pet food, at $.38 cents per meal, two meals a day, in one month you are spending around $22.80 per month. Less than $5.00 per month difference that can save you thousands of dollars in vet bills and add years to their life. You must look at the cost per meal to completely give the price of the food consideration.

Here is what has happened to us -- for years and years we've watched the television commercials of pet food. They emphasize the words 'for your pet's health' or 'choice'. We've trusted them and we've followed their directions to feed our pet 2 or 3 cups of food per day. What we didn't know was that those recommended 2 or 3 cups of food was necessary because the pet food contained cheap inferior nutrition sources like by-products, meat and bone meal, and grains.

With better, more nutritious pet foods, they do not need as much as with the cheaper foods. Don't let the old habit of feeding more sway you when you switch to a more nutritious pet food; again, with more quality ingredients they just don't need as much food as with inferior ingredients. If you switch your pet to a quality pet food and continue to feed the same amount as the lesser quality food you were feeding, your pet will gain weight.

The daily amount of food our pets require depends on many things such as activity level, age, whether they are breeding animals or neutered animals. As an example, my 100 pound, 13 year-old German Shepherd only eats two cups of food per day; 1 cup AM, 1 cup PM. My little guy, a 3 year old 8 pound Papillon, eats about 1/3 cup a day. Both dogs are active. However, my little guy is young and has a fairly high energy level. My big guy is much more sedate. Considering his little size, the small dog eats far more for his size than the big dog. His energy and activity level requires it.

So serving size for your pet is something you will need to experiment with. If your dog or cat has no 'figure' - shows no waist when looking at them from above - chances are they need to lose a few pounds. Cut back the serving size. If you can visibly see ribs, they probably need to gain a couple of pounds and you need to slightly increase the serving size. Please note too that a cup of food a day at 2 years old will more than likely be too much food when they are a little older. Keep a constant monitoring eye on them -- a healthy weight is a healthier pet.

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

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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