What do I feed my pets? Pet speciality stores Vs Supermarket

With over 60% of the population owning pets & treating them like a member of the family (what do you mean a Halloween costume for my pug is ‘too much’?), it’s no wonder that we all want the best for our furry friends. With that number speculated to have grown during the pandemic, it’s anyone’s guess as to how many pet owners are searching for the top diet to feed their best friends.

Research shows that more and more pet owners are opting for fresh, frozen and ‘better than premium’ labelled diets, and considering that pet food brands have grown by over 70% in the last decade, choosing the right food for your pooch can be a difficult task.

However, when you begin your journey in finding the right food for your cat or dog, can you trust what sits on the supermarket shelves? While most pet specialty stores will sell premium quality brands, supermarkets are now attempting to keep up with demands and new pet food brands are coming out with ‘natural’, ‘complete diet’ labels to catch the eye of their customers.

So how do we sift between all the marketing schemes & know what we’re really buying our pets? Comparing cost, quality and overall health benefits is a good place to start, and what’s better is we’ve done it for you!

Cost

It’s no doubt that pet foods at the supermarket are generally of a lower cost than shopping at your local pet store. However, if we look closer, you’ll find some brands are more cost effective then they seem and you could be purchasing an extra quality product without spending too much extra cash!

Below is a comparison of a supermarket brand & a pet specialty brand based on a 10kg adult dog.

Supermarket Brand Pet Speciality Brand
Size 3kg 3kg
Cost of bag $15.50 $30.00
Feeding guide 170g per day 90g per day
Total feeding days 18 33
Cost per day $0.86 cents $0.91 cents

With the above in mind, we can see that whilst the supermarket brand is almost half the cost of the pet specialty brand, the recommended feeding amount is near double what the pet specialty brand is recommending. If we break this down even further and divide the cost between the total feeding days then we can get the calculated cost per day. In this example, we can see that the supermarket brand is 86c per day and the pet specialty at 91c per day.

Interestingly, when you break down the costs between the two brands, they don’t differ too much. So, if both brands are competitive in price, then what is the difference that we are paying for? This brings us to investigate what’s actually in the bag.

Ingredients

When it comes to pet food, it’s hard to know what constitutes a ‘quality’ diet when simply looking at the label, however, there are some key things you can look out for when scanning the pack, and, knowing how to read it will grant you access to a variety of important information.

The first thing to know is that ingredients must be listed in order of most to least (in weight) and so most commonly you will find a type of meat or grain at the top. Secondly, if an ingredient is listed as lamb meal, then this means the meat has been dehydrated which concentrates the protein and therefore reduces the need for the amount of meat in the bag or increases the protein levels in the food without having to add more meat. Anything listed as a by-product means the that it may contain any part of the animal that aren’t fit for human consumption (excepting hair, teeth and horns).

Another thing to look for is the nutritional adequacy statement, this states that the product in the bag represents a complete diet for the animal it is intended to feed. The nutritional adequacy statement is also referred to as the AAFCO statement, which means that the food contains all necessary nutrients in the required quantities and is considered a ‘complete diet’.

It is important to know that cats & dogs require taurine in their diets to assist with heart function (and other wonderful things). While dogs can make taurine from other amino acids, cats however, struggle to make enough which is why a complete cat diet requires added taurine. You might find that cat foods will generally have higher protein and meat levels for this reason because taurine is sourced from animal-based protein.

Apart from knowing what quality ingredients to look for you in pets’ diet, it’s also important to look at why these ingredients are worth accounting for.

Quality

“I’ve fed my dog supermarket food for years, and he’s fine.”

“My cat only likes supermarket food”.

These are both familiar comments made by pet owners and they are fair statements. However, let’s look at the benefits of feeding your furry friend a quality diet and see that it really is worth it.

Just like us humans, feeding your pet the highest quality diet isn’t guaranteed to result in a long healthy life, but it is more likely. Just like if you eat junk food every day, you are not guaranteed to get heart disease – but you are at a higher risk.

Feeding your pet, a complete balanced diet with quality ingredients can; assist in weight management, reduce the risk of UTI’s and hairballs, reduce skin and coat sensitivities, increase joint health, assist growth for puppies and kittens, support healthy immune systems, healthy teeth, strong bones and improve brain function. Therefore, if feeding your animals the best diet (for an extra few cents a day) will give them a better chance at a happy, healthy, good quality of life…isn’t that alone worth it?

Another reason to feed your pet a good quality diet is…smelly poop!

Picking up poo is never fun and is even less fun when it’s super smelly and runny! If you feed your dog a balanced and quality food, you can expect more regular, firm stools that are a quick and easy pick up whether it’s on a walk or in a litter tray!

Overall, a quality diet not only consists of quality ingredients, but it also helps assist your pet in achieving the best quality of life and at only a small cost (if any) above non-premium pet foods.

So, are premium, super-premium, natural, and ultra-premium products worth it? The short answer is yes, definitely. The above information presented a basic insight into the importance of a good diet and if you’re hungry for more (or your pooch is) then head to your local Just For Pets store today for quality food and/or more information.

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