It is difficult not to feel overwhelmed when faced with choosing a food for your dog. Not only is it difficult to choose between the many flavours and textures; but there are a number of price points to consider. The following guide will help you to steer in the direction of a food with a price point that works well for you and your dog.

What is the REAL cost of the pet food?

When considering the cost of a food, it is important not to just look at the size of the package and the price. What is more useful is to consider the cost per calorie. In general, wet food will be more expensive on this measure than dry food because of the high moisture content; there will be fewer calories per unit of volume. 

When calculating the cost of a food, determine how many calories your dog consumes each day. If you aren’t sure how to calculate the number of calories your dog should eat per day, your veterinarian can help you out at your next appointment. You can then determine how many meals they will get from each bag and the cost per meal. The calorie count of your chosen food can often be found on the manufacturer’s website; or you can contact their customer service for more info. 

The ingredients

When purchasing a food, you will be paying primarily for the raw ingredients that are included. Some of the most expensive dog food ingredients are muscle meats, whole fruits, and whole vegetables. The reason for this is not necessarily because they are more nutritious. But because they are popular for use in the wider market for human consumption.

Many dog foods will use food by-products as ingredients. This will not only keep the cost of the food down, but these are a fantastic source of nutrition too. Ultimately, any food you choose should be complete and balanced in terms of nutrients in the diet. This can be achieved by combining a number of expensive or inexpensive ingredients. 

Remember: your dog needs nutrients, not ingredients!

Research and development

Some foods on the market have a lot of research behind them. Especially if they are diets designed to manage a specific health condition. Not only is the nutritional formulation important, it will also have to be tasty enough to tempt even dogs who are feeling ill. It can be tricky even for the most experienced pet nutrition scientists to get just the right balance of ingredients and flavours to fit the bill.

The cost of intensive research and feeding trials will be reflected in the cost of the final diets. However, in the case of clinical diets, it could help you to save on veterinary bills in the long run. So this is something worth taking into account when considering the overall cost.

Home cooked options

Cooking at home is likely to be the most expensive option among the many choices of meals for your dog. As long as the diet is formulated by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, you can be sure that it will be tailored to fit your dog’s exact nutritional needs.

It certainly sounds like an ideal solution for your dog’s dinners but it may not necessarily be the best choice for your lifestyle. Not only will you have to pay for the cost of a consultation with a vet nutrition-specialist, but you will then have to source all the recipe ingredients yourself. 

Final thoughts

Manufacturers will provide lots of information on company websites and should have a customer service team who can help with any further questions about a diet. If you’re choosing a home-cooked option, your general practice veterinarian can refer you to a clinical nutritionist for an initial consultation to see if it would be a good fit for you.

Sizing up different dog foods according to cost can definitely be a real challenge! When weighing up your options in terms of ingredients and diets with research-backed benefits, remember to consider the number of calories your dog will be eating per day. Thankfully there are many resources available to ensure that the option you choose will be a good match for your four-legged friend.

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