Pet Food Economics by Jeffrey Weber
Many people are familiar with the old saying that "you get what you pay for." This couldn't be truer when it comes to choosing a pet food. Understandably, in tough economic situations many pet owners will choose a food because of a lower price. However, it is important to understand that these pet foods have a lower cost because they use lower quality ingredients. Some of these ingredients are as follows:
Meat by products: These by products are things such as organs and other parts that are undesirable or deemed unsuitable for human consumption. Often this may include bones, blood, intestines, lungs, ligaments, heads, feet, and feathers. This may also include meat from the 4 D's, dead, diseased, dying or disabled. There is also what some people consider the 5th D which is drugged.
Grains: Ingredients such as corn, corn gluten, wheat and wheat gluten offer little nutritional value and are extremely difficult for our pets to digest.
Meat and Bone Meal: This is a generic term for an inexpensive source of animal proteins. The meat source can be from any meat source or several meat sources usually a by-product of our own meat manufacturing processes and determined unsuitable for human consumption. It is notable that a protein meal that consists largely of bone meal may prove difficult for our pets to digest and provides inadequate nutrition.
Animal Fat: Another generic term for a fat source of questionable origin. While it certainly may contain rendered animal fat from various sources it can also include restaurant grease as well as other rancid oils deemed unsuitable for human consumption. Always look for a named fat source such as "chicken fat" or 'beef fat" that is naturally preserved with vitamin E or tocopherols.
Food Processing By-Products: Sometimes called "food fragments" these are the by-products of another food manufacturing process. Some examples may be wheat bran, or a by-product of the alcohol industry known as brewer's rice.
Sweeteners: Ingredients such as corn syrup, cane molasses and sugar are often added to lower quality pet foods to make them more palatable to our pets. It should go without saying that these types of sweeteners can create many health issues including diabetes.
Beef Tallow: Sometimes called beef fat, is obtained from the tissue of cattle in the rendering process. Our dogs and cats like the taste of this fat so it is often used to make the food more appealing in taste to our pets. Beef tallow is very low in linoleic acid and is therefore a cheaper alternative to a high quality fat such as chicken fat or a good quality vegetable oil.
Chemical Preservatives: These include BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), propyl gallate, propylene glycol (used as a less-toxic version of antifreeze), and ethoxyquin. BHT, BHA, and Ethoxyquin have all demonstrated carcinogenic properties and any studies on the long-term build up of these chemicals in our pets are non-existent. However, all three of these last three chemicals listed have been banned in Europe due the harmful effects on humans and pets.
Understanding that the ingredients listed above offer very little if any nutritional value to our pets at best and that some may be potentially harmful to our pets, we can now make a more educated comparison between pet foods. In this example we will choose dog foods, two less expensive brands and two "premium" brands. Please keep in mind that this comparison is to help you, the reader, understand how to make a reasonable comparison between pet foods and make a more educated decision, it is by no means absolutely conclusive on which is the best of all pet foods. Also it is important to point out that while we are using dog food in this example all the information presented here applies to other pet foods as well.
Ol' Roy Dog Food Ingredients
Ground yellow corn, soybean meal, ground whole wheat, corn syrup, poultry fat, Meat and bone meal (Animal Fat Preserved with BHA and Citric Acid), Chicken by-product Meal, Rice, Animal Digest, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Vitamin D and E Supplement, Niacin, Copper Sulafate, Manganous Oxide, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Meadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex Source of Vitamin K, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Cobalt Carbonate, Folic Acid, Sodium Selenite, Folic Acid
34 lb bag $32.82 or 96.5 cents per lb
Blue Buffalo Lamb and Rice
Deboned Lamb, Lamb Meal, Whole Ground Barley, Whole Ground Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Rye, Whole Potatoes, Fish Meal, Tomato Pomace (natural source of Lycopene), Sunflower Oil (natural source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Natural Flavor, Whole Carrots, Whole Sweet Potatoes, Blueberries, Cranberries, Flaxseed, Barley Grass, Dried Parsley, Alfalfa Meal, Kelp Meal, Taurine, L-Carnitine, L-Lysine, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Green Tea Extract, Turmeric, Garlic, Herring Oil (natural source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Fructooligosaccharides, Monooligosaccharides, Dried Chicory Root, Black Malted Barley, Oil of Rosemary, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin C, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Beta Carotene, Calcium Ascorbate (source of Vitamin C), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Folic Acid, Biotin, Choline Chloride, Calcium Phosphate
30 lb bag $48.99 or $1.64 per lb
Keeping in mind that ingredients on pet food labels are listed by weight, look closely at the first four ingredients in these two dog foods. Where as Ol Roy lists three grains and a sweetener, Blue Buffalo lists a whole named meat followed by a named meat meal, followed by two whole grains. What this tells us is that the Ol' Roy brand is deriving the majority of its protein from grain sources, which is difficult for our pets to assimilate whereas the Blue Buffalo gains its protein from animal sources, which suits our carnivorous companions much better. The grains in the Blue Buffalo are more easily digested by our pets and along with the potatoes, provide carbohydrates. Whereas the Ol' Roy brand lists generic animal fat preserved with BHA and citric acid the Blue Buffalo uses named oil sources such as Sunflower Oil and Herring Oil offering essential Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids along with flaxseed and is naturally preserved. Both foods offer vitamin supplementation, however the Blue Buffalo is more complete and offers taurine as well.
Purina Dog Chow Ingredients
Whole grain corn, poultry by-product meal, corn gluten meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), meat and bone meal, brewers rice, soybean meal, whole grain wheat, egg and chicken flavor, animal digest, salt, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, calcium phosphate, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, added color (Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 2), DL-Methionine, Vitamin E supplement, zinc proteinate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, manganese proteinate, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, brewers dried yeast, copper sulfate, calcium pantothenate, copper proteinate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin B-12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, Vitamin D-3 supplement, riboflavin supplement, calcium iodate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite
20 lbs $12.99 or .65 per lb
Orijen Adult Dog Food Ingredients
Fresh boneless chicken, chicken meal, fresh boneless salmon, turkey meal, herring meal, russet potato, peas, sweet potato, fresh boneless turkey, fresh whole eggs, fresh chicken liver, fresh boneless lake whitefish, fresh boneless walleye, sun-cured alfalfa, pea fiber, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), organic kelp, pumpkin, chicory root, carrots, spinach, turnip greens, apples, cranberries, blueberries, licorice root, angelica root, fenugreek, marigold flowers, sweet fennel, peppermint leaf, chamomile, dandelion, summer savory, rosemary, vitamin A, vitamin D3, vitamin E, niacin, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, d-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, selenium yeast, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Enterococcus faecium.
29.7 lbs $67.49 or $2.27 per lb
Again, if we note the first ingredients listed we see that the Purina Dog Chow's primary protein source is a grain followed by a generic poultry by-product meal. The generic "animal fat" is naturally preserved with mixed tocopherols but that is of little value considering the fact that the following ingredient is of an unknown origin followed by brewers rice, a by-product of the alcohol industry. The Purina Dog Chow also uses artificial coloring, which makes the food more visually appealing to the pet owner but means little to the pet. The Orijen starts with a named whole meat followed by a named meat meal then another whole meat and two named meat meals. It contains a named fat source, which is naturally preserved. It is also notable that the Orijen uses pre-biotics and pro-biotics which are beneficial in the digestion process.
There are two important points to keep in mind when looking at these examples. First, while the "premium" foods cost two to three times more they are made with higher-grade ingredients. This means that your pet can more readily assimilate and utilize the nutrients in these foods. This in turn means that your pet can acquire their nutritional requirements with smaller portions. Because you are able to feed smaller portions you will find you get more meals out of the "premium" food than you would out of the same size bag of the lower quality food. So while the "premium" food may be higher in cost on a per pound basis, most people find that the cost on a per portion basis is about the same for both foods. The second point to consider is that with the "premium" foods you are feeding a healthier diet without chemicals, artificial coloring, or artificial preservatives helping to avoid health issues associated with these types of ingredients. Again, the higher quality ingredients in the "premium" foods offer your pet more of what they need to maintain optimal health thereby reducing the chances of major or chronic disease and lowering the cost of veterinary care.
In the long run, every moment of your pet's life will be greatly enhanced with the choices you as a pet owner make such as providing them with the best available nutrition found in higher quality food. Be sure to always read the food labels carefully and take into consideration any health issues your pet may have such as food allergies, diabetes and so on. Making informed decisions can lead to many happy, healthy years with your best friend. As always if you have concerns or questions consult with your veterinarian.
Jeffrey Weber has been a long time and avid pet lover. He has had the privilege to learn from pet professionals, as well as from his own experience. In an effort to strengthen the bond between people and their pets he shares his knowledge on his blog Family Pets. In addition Jeff offers quality pet supplies at Your-Pets-R-Family-2.com
Article Source: http://www.articlesphere.com/Article/Pet-Food-Economics/243311