Pets are not cheap; there is a long list of one-time expenses and annual expenses that can really break the bank. But following numerous reports of dogs and cats dying from tainted pet food in 2007, pet food companies are attempting to make a comeback with improved and more expensive food products for pets.
The evolution of pet food has come a very long way, as pet food has become more “human inspired” over the years. It can be pretty tempting to pick up a cookie from your neighborhood Petco before realizing that it’s actually meant for your dog.
Pet food companies such as Blue Buffalo have been trying to improve their recipes and presentation ever since the Great Pet Food Recall in 2007, promising that their new formulas are healthier and safer for your pets. Unfortunately, these brands are incredibly convincing, and as the food becomes “healthier,” the price continues to climb.
Healthier or just expensive?
Now, it isn’t a bad thing to pamper your pet; but premium pet food can be incredibly expensive. In 2014, Americans spent almost $22 billion on food for their pets. While it may seem a lot healthier to get your pet a brand of food associated with the terms “gourmet,” “Human-grade,” or “gluten-free,” there isn’t any substantial evidence supporting the idea that those brands are any healthier for your pet. You’re better off buying the cheaper brand that contains the phrase ‘complete and balanced nutrition’ than the gourmet pet food you found for double the price. Ironically, the one thing pet owners fear the most might actually be healthier than the expensive premium pet food.
Fear of by-products
A by-product is the part of the animal that people don’t like to eat, but there is really nothing wrong with feeding it to pets. Many Americans have come to fear the inclusion of animal by-products in their pets’ food, but organ meats actually have a lot more nutrients in them than typical muscle meats. Unfortunately, many people aren’t aware of the benefits to by-products and tend to steer clear of them when shopping for pet food. The fear of giving your pet anything that might be harmful is what has driven pet owners toward more expensive brands of pet food, but the cost doesn’t necessarily make it five-star quality.
In the United States, there are two levels of regulation for pet food; the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
The FDA ensures that there is a proper listing of all the ingredients on your pet’s food, and the AAFCO essentially oversees each individual state’s pet food labeling rules. In short, the AAFCO’s definition of “natural” pet food means that anything goes. The same concept goes for organic pet foods; the fancy seal doesn’t mean that it’s any safer or more nutritious for your pet — you’re just paying more. According to the FDA, raw pet food is most likely to have a disease-causing bacteria, and it is also the most expensive. So while a fancy label might seem reassuring, it really doesn’t mean much.
Pet food can get really expensive, especially if you like to buy the top brands. Pet food companies are simply doing their best to build up their reputations after the pet food recall in 2007, so the label and the price don’t necessarily determine the quality. Keep in mind that there are cheap and healthy alternatives to high-end pet food, and you don’t have to break the bank to keep your pet happy and healthy.
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