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Is expensive dog food better? Or is it all bark and no bite?

Posted at 11:00 AM, May 09, 2017

Pets are a huge part of our families. For many, making sure they’re fed is making a huge dent in our wallets.

Now there’s a pretty big trend toward feeding our pets the way we feed ourselves.

After going to several grocery stores, 41 Action News found dog food as cheap as $10. We also found a 27 pound bag for $90.

Allison Wara is a veterinary nutritionist at the University of Missouri. She says price point and presentation don’t always mean the best choice for your pet. 

“And that’s what can be very misleading,” she said. 

Wara says the most important thing to do when choosing dog food is to peek at the back of the label.

“On the back of every label you should find a nutritional adequacy statement and that statement will say whether or not the pet food is complete and balanced,” she said. 

Pet food in the U.S. is regulated by FDA. The FDA representatives serve on the AAFCO, or the Association of American Feed Control Officials, board.

“Complete” means the product contains all the nutrients required.

“Balanced” means the nutrients are present in the correct rations.

Otherwise, Wara says, it’ll say something like "intermittent," or "for supplemental feeding." 

Delena Stout argues pet owners should take it a step further.

Stout runs the Brookside Barkery, where some of her food goes for top dollar.  As high as $90. She says measuring your pet’s food is key.

Stout adds, with some of her high priced food, you don’t have to feed as much, because it’s rich in protein. “You feed a lot less than if you were to feed from a bag that’s $30.”

She also says her customers have noticed a huge improvement in their pet’s health by switching to an organic, raw, or grain free diet.

“Yes you’re going to spend a little bit more money with a better quality food, but the quality of life for your pet is going to be just phenomenal,” said Stout.

Megan Horne is the General Manager of Go Pet Go. Her stores won’t carry dog food with a recall history.

Horne believes a protein based diet is the way to go because too much corn and grain can cause issues.

“Like skin and coat issues, digestion issues, and you have to feed a lot more of it,” she said. 

But does your pet really need organic, certified organic or completely raw?

Most experts agree that’s a want and not a need.

“You don’t necessarily have to go organic,” Horne told 41 Action News. “You just want to go with natural. You want to go with good, quality ingredients.”

A study by Consumer Reports finds higher prices can mean better ingredients and better quality control during manufacturing.

The same study shows pets can still thrive on inexpensive food or become sick from pricey food.

Bottom line: if your pet is active and healthy, then no matter the price point, the food is doing its job.

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