By Lexiann Grant
When looking at what it costs to feed your dog, it's important to understand that not all dog foods are created equal. Quality kibble can make your dog healthier and probably doesn't cost as much as some might think.
In the 1970s when I adopted my first puppy, I knew very little about dogs and dog food. I just purchased an inexpensive brand from the grocery store while shopping for my own food. I thought buying special flavors in appetizing packages equated being good to my dog.
Wrong. My first dog – a finicky eater – was excessively thin in body and coat, not good for an Afghan Hound. She also had digestive problems.
With my second dog I decided to try a different kibble. The one I chose was a bit better and cost a little more, but I was still clueless about what constituted a healthy product. This dog had ear infections, dry itchy skin and allergies her entire life. She was the only Afghan I knew who couldn’t run without tiring easily.
I had heard from some of my friends how expensive the premium dog foods were compared to the grocery store dog foods I was buying and was reluctant to spend what seemed like more money for the same number of pounds of dog food.
So I kept feeding the same kibble to the next four dogs my husband and I adopted. Every few weeks, one of the dogs was at the veterinarian’s for flaky skin, minor skin cysts, dirty ears, heavy shedding, mild respiratory infections or low energy. All the dogs had thin, dull coats and were generally lackluster. Despite my personal inclination to healthy, balanced eating, I just assumed the dogs’ food was nutritionally sound enough, and never really made the connection. Even though these conditions can have many different causes, I eventually decided that trying better foods was the easiest solution.
Before making the switch to better food, we were told repeatedly at dog shows that our Elkhound was “out of coat.” We kept waiting for him to grow the full adult coat as he aged. Extra portions, vitamins, oils, herbs, and unusual supplements added to his inexpensive food did not make that happen.
Finally another handler asked what we fed, and suggested trying a premium food. I started researching ingredients, pet food standards and labeling practices. I realized that if you compared a premium dog food pound for pound to things we all buy in the grocery store, it's really not that expensive. Here's an example. At Walgreens a 14 ounce box of Cheerios costs $4.50, so 30 pounds of Cheerios would be about $150! Cheerios is mostly grains, corn starch and sugar. A 30 pound bag of super-premium pet food like CANIDAE costs about $34 where I live so it costs just a little more than a dollar a pound. A typical dog eats less than a pound a day, so feeding a premium food can easily cost less than a dollar a day.
After I figured all this out for myself, I picked CANIDAE as the dog food to try. It was affordable, and it also finally improved my Elkhound's fur! At the shows, we received compliments on how great our dog’s coat looked, and were asked what food we fed. My husband’s reply: “CANIDAE. It’ll grow hair on a bowling ball.”
Long before I became a CANIDAE Responsible Pet Ownership blogger, I fed CANIDAE because diet is everything; it is the foundation for good health.
In this brutal economy, it’s necessary to save money. But cutting corners on pet food won’t net any savings. That’s because less expensive products use lower quality ingredients. Pennies saved on kibble can turn into big bucks spent at the vet’s.
“Premium” in dog food means a higher standard in nutrition and quality of ingredients. Pound for pound, the price of premium food is higher. But each serving contains more nutrients that are more nutritionally available than in a cheaper food, making premium kibble the better buy. With more nutrients in every bite, dogs do not need to eat as much premium food as they would a brand containing fillers and by-products.
Want help including premium kibble in your budget? Check out the handy new calculator that figures the daily cost of feeding CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods based on your dog’s weight. Go to www.canidae.com/cost-to-feed-canidae/. From the pull-down menus, answer the four questions about which formula and size bag you feed (or would like to try), your dog’s weight and the amount your pet supply store charges for the selected product. Then click the “calculate” button to see how affordable premium dog food really is.
Although no single dog food is right for every dog, premium foods like CANIDAE make a positive difference. Remember, you get what you pay for: high quality food can equal better health.
Read more articles by Lexiann Grant