As a pet parent, your greatest desire is to give your beloved fur baby the longest, healthiest life possible. There are many pieces of the puzzle to achieving optimal health from exercise and engagement to proper vaccinations and staying on top of routine care like teeth cleanings. However, perhaps no other action is as important as what you choose to feed your cherished companion.
That’s right, what your pet eats can have more impact on the quality of their life and its duration than perhaps any other factor.
Unfortunately, keying in on the right food choice is anything but easy. In fact, most pet parents are currently overpaying for substandard food choices hoping they are giving their best friend the a good food. This disconnect between proper pet nutrition, pet parent education and pet food options is a big problem for a solution now exists.
What The Stats Say About The Pet Food Problem
Survey results from a recent poll of dog owners showcase how common this pet food dilemma really is. It is an issue virtually every pet parent deals with as you can see in the numbers below, perhaps you can relate to these stats and find yourself represented in one or more of the categories below:
- Almost half of all surveyed pet owners believe that choosing the right food to pet their pet is the most difficult aspect of pet ownership.
- Some 70% of all dog owners believe that their pet’s current diet is an okay fit, but is not perfect for their animal.
- One in every four pet owners admits to spending, on average, more than 10 minutes in the dog food aisle each time they buy food, trying to choose between different brands and options.
- More than half of all dog owners surveyed, some 52%, believe their pet’s nutrition is more confusing than their own.
- Nearly one in every four dog owners surveyed feel overwhelmed with the amount of pet food choices they have when purchasing food for their pet.
Pet Food Nutrition is a Complicated Issue
Obviously, for pets and people alike, nutrition is a complicated issue. However, pet nutrition is even more so simply due to the lack of available information. In fact, pet nutrition is a subject of its own as is pet food processing science and pet food formulating.
Everyone seems to have a strong opinion and there are even experts that specialize in formulating food and food processing. Unfortunately, the most sought out experts for pet parents, veterinarians, are often woefully unprepared to give an educated opinion on the subject. This is because vets are not specifically trained in pet nutrition. It is part of their education, but only a small part, which is often lost from lack of practice.
Another factor that makes pet food nutrition complicated is the fact that there are currently over 15,000 different formulations in the United States alone. Talk about a lot of options! That’s enough to make anyone’s head spin. In addition, nearly all pet food companies claim the same thing...push the same so-called facts...but not all they say is true.
The sad fact is that pets are not protected as well as people when it comes to legal ramifications for misleading consumer information. In other words, if a food company producing food for a person misleads through false advertising and false information, they can face legal ramifications if the misinformation results in an injury to a human consumer. Unfortunately, this isn’t always true in terms of our precious pets. They are classified as “property” by our legal system, which makes them more vulnerable to injury through poor or misleading information.
The Cost of a Poor Diet
You might wonder about the cost of a poor pet diet. What harm could misinformation cause, what is the cost? Well, the cost is literally the life of your pet. That’s a pretty high price to pay to say the least. According to research, the following conditions can all be either exasperated by or caused by a poor pet diet, and more connections between poor diet and pet diseases are being discovered all the time. This means by the time of publishing of this article, there could be even more evidence to link poor nutrition and another devastating disease:
- Heart disease
- Gastrointestinal illness, gastroenteritis, colitis, ect.
In addition to all the diseases listed above, a poor diet can also cause other detrimental health issues such as follows:
- Allergies, Intolerances, Sensitivities: Food allergies, intolerances and the like can lead to all sorts of fur and skin issues in your pet. This can cause your pet’s skin to become flaky, dull, dry and itchy and can even lead to ear infections.
- Behavior Issues: You might not realize that your pet’s nutrition can not only affect how they look and increase their chances of experiencing devastating diseases, it can also lead to behavior issues. Anxiety, aggression and hyperactivity can all be the result of what your dog is or is not eating. The sad part of this is you might think your pet is naughty when they simply aren’t getting the nutrition they need to function properly.
- Digestive Problems: Gas, loose stools, vomiting, diarrhea, sensitive stomach and more can be caused by food allergies or intolerances. These can obviously cause problems with indoor accidents and pain and discomfort in a pet.
- Low Energy: Just imagine if what you were eating made you sick every time you ate it. Wouldn’t this eventually zap your energy? Of course! The same happens to your pet. Your beloved, energetic companion can slow down, become lethargic and even depressed simply because of what they are eating. What a price to pay!
There is No One to Turn To, Lack of Expert Advice
As previously mentioned, in most cases as a pet parent, you turn to your dog’s veterinarians as your most trusted experts. Unfortunately, most vets are not experts in pet nutrition. While nutrition is part of the vet syllabus, it often is not part of a vet’s ongoing educational career. This means their recommendations are simply not ideal or even informed when it comes to the nutritional needs of your pet. More often than not, vets are happy to sell the big brand foods for a healthy commission.
The only other option is to seek the advice of an expert pet nutritionist. They are few and far between, which makes their services hard to find and expensive.
Becoming your pet’s advocate and educating yourself is a very steep challenge that is highly impractical in a busy world. So making the best pet food choice by studying the nutrition of various foods is near impossible. And evaluating how the price of the food compares to other options is impossible without access to the necessary data.
Choosing Pet Food Doesn’t Have to Be Rocket Science
Admittedly, finding the right food for your treasured dog is easier said than done. However, it isn’t impossible. Keep the following factors in mind to make the best food choice for your dog:
- Ingredients, Processing, Balance: Published guidelines from some vet based organizations claim that ingredients are not a good way to judge the nutritional value of a particular food. While its true that we need nutrients, not ingredients, it is also true that there is a direct link between ingredients and nutrients.
- Ingredients and processing do matter and can be evaluated. Think of human food. We all know that broccoli or spinach or carrots is good and sugar is bad. We also know that food processing matters. Unprocessed, fresh and organic foods are good and highly processed fast foods are bad. We also know that nutritional balance is good as too much of a good thing can become bad. Balance in everything! Well, the same evaluation matters for pet foods too.
- Comparing prices: You want to get the most bang for your buck for your pet food purchase. While you would love to select the very best nutritional option for your pet, no questions asked, budget constraints are real and should be acknowledged. It’s important to realize, though, that simply comparing one bag of food to another and choosing the least expensive isn’t the best way to compare prices. For example, each bag of food has a different calorie density. This means some foods go much further than others. The variation is as much as 5-6x.
- True Cost Comparison: Thankfully, the Pet Assistant food finder does this difficult process of comparing food in terms of what it actually costs you to feed your pet per day, not per bag. That way, you can actually know if you are getting a good deal or overpaying. This information makes price comparison simple and effortless.
- User Reviews don’t help: While user reviews are comforting and helpful, they are not useful for evaluating either the nutritional quality or cost of pet food. This is because consumers don’t have the required expertise and the outcomes of good or bad nutrition happens over a long period of time. Consequently, even a well-attuned pet parent cannot know how beneficial a food is just from buying and trying it. They can only share if their pet likes a particular pet food or not. Unfortunately, pet preference is not an indication of nutritional value or quality.
The Benefit of Price Aggregators
Price aggregators are obvious and commonplace today. For most of us, our first port of call is a price aggregator when looking for a mortgage, insurance policy, buying a car, a computer, going on holiday, booking a flight or hotels, getting a new TV and even filling up with gas. This ensures we are getting the best price for our goods and services together with the features and benefits that we seek. And it forces each industry to be accountable for both their value and costs to the consumer. Thankfully, we can now do this with pet food as well with the Pet Assistant Food Finder.
And the beauty of comparing true consumer costs... it is factual and it is just math. And we have discovered some amazing findings...
The Price Doesn’t Always Indicate Value
We have discovered that there are plenty of food brands and nutritional formulations that are significantly overpriced for their nutritional value. These pet food companies get away with this because they spend millions on their branding to make consumers believe their product is somehow better. But what consumers don’t realize is just how much more expensive some foods really are.
On the other hand, many reasonably priced pet foods are nutritionally excellent and don't get the airtime others do simply because they don’t spend millions in advertising and branding.
Thankfully, all the information outlined above comes together to paint a very encouraging picture. You as a pet parent can now easily evaluate your own pet’s food choices through our food finder. And the best bit is you don’t have to study the ingredients list or become an expert in nutrient balance or be a pricing data mining scientist either. We provide the relevant data and metrics about nutrient benefit and true cost comparison that enables pet parents make the best choice that fits your pet’s needs and your household budget.
And one of the most interesting findings we have made... many pet parents are overpaying for their nutrition. Meaning there are better nutritional choices for the same price. In some cases, pet parents can significantly improve nutritional goodness AND save lots of money.
Don’t Overpay For Substandard Fare
The above information hopefully gives you confidence that you can successfully find the right food for your pet. Our passion is to help you make the very best choice to give your dog its best possible life. While no action you take can ensure your dog lives a long, fulfilled life, you can at least reduce their risk of developing detrimental diseases and other issues due to their poor diet.
Thankfully, giving them the best food doesn’t have to break the bank once you have the right decision tools. Through our resources, you can find the best combination of food quality and monetary value. We encourage you to keep educating yourself more and more about the options available on the market today, learn what is best for your individual pet’s needs and stop overpaying for substandard food options.