Why does my dog's food cost more than my food???

Cooper enjoys a good story
There has been a huge shift in the pet industry recently.  Not so long ago, we were feeding our dogs’ Purina Dog Chow, which currently costs about $23 for a 46 pound bag (that works out to about fifty cents a pound).  Now there are premium, super premium and ultra premium foods being sold at virtually every store that sells pet food.  And these foods come at a “premium” price.... the Blue Wilderness Salmon Dog Food is $59 for a 24 pound bag (that works out to about $2.46 a pound).  How did we end up buying dog foods for nearly 500% more than we used to pay?

Well, a couple of things happened in the pet industry over the past twenty years.  First, we started looking at our dogs less as animals we “owned” and more like family members.  PetSmart refers to their human customers as “pet parents.”  This trend has driven pet industry spending from $17 billion in 1994 to nearly $60 billion in 2013.  This spending increased at a steady 4-5% every year, including during the recession years.  We are clothing our pets, buying orthopedic beds for our pets, and they are eating often as well or better) than we eat. 

Fagan loves the kitchen!  
Secondly, there have been a few pet food recalls that have frightened many owners into feeling obligated to buy "better" foods.  The Menu Pet Food recall of 2007 included more than 150 brands that were produced, at least in part, in China.  Melamine was found in many of the we food products after a significant number of pets got sick or died from eating the foods.  

So where does that leave us when trying to feed our pets?  Well, we need to use our eyes to read labels and some common sense.  Look for products made in the US; China and other developing countries have different manufacturing standards.  Keep the corn, wheat and soy to a minimum; dogs are carnivores and the inclusion of these items has no value to your dog’s diet.  Plus corn, wheat and soy are often found to be allergens in dogs.  Skip the chicken and beef by-products.  And finally, look at the “guaranteed analysis on the label; items high in protein with moderate levels of animal fat and higher moisture content are generally regarded as being better for your pet.  
Michigan Cherry Berry Bites 


Finally, keep in mind that pet industry marketing is done for the benefit of the business, not as a public service to the community.  It’s up to us to research and make decisions that are based on the best information we can find.