I believe if you have had a pet with skin problems, you would have experienced a time when you went to a vet or pet shop, and they tried to push you expensive prescription diet or top-of-the-line gourmet hand-cooked free-range lamb with sturgeon caviar promising to be the end all and cure all for your pet’s skin problems. Well, did it?
My guess would be most probably no. If it did, however, you have no idea how lucky you are to find a particular brand of food that’s suitable for your pet’s condition (or why did it have to be the most expensive one?!). But I still know of many pet owners who choose to stick to one particular brand even though they do not see significant results.
So then, is expensive food really better? The short answer is: Of course!
Reason? Is organic peanut butter better than Skippy’s? Of course! You’d get fewer pesticides and all of the chemicals that we don’t want, all for a few pennies more in exchange for good health; why not?
But is fancy organic peanut butter cultivated from virgin volcanic soil good for people with nut allergies?
How good a product still has to depend on whether it will do any good for the body.
So how are we going to determine whether it’s going to provide the benefits? To answer this, we must first ask, what is the primary result I want from the food? If you don’t, you will be persuaded into buying something you don’t need, and most times, having more creates more problems. We’ll come to that later.
So what are some primary objectives you can have when choosing food? Are you looking for any specific ingredients? Is it because your pets are fussy eaters? Skin issues? Underweight? Overweight? Kidney/Liver issues?
What’s your budget?
Just like buying a new phone, if we don’t know what’s the most important function to us, we’ll tend to go for the one that has everything and everything we don’t need (me included).
So once you have your primary objective identified, it’ll be so much easier for you and whoever is serving you.
And I always tell my customers that if they have been making a lot of trial and error with different food, supplements, and products, my good guess is that they already know what works and what doesn’t. Use your gut and trust yourself rather than what people tell you.
For me, even though something didn’t work out the first time, I’d still try two more times with different variations before I confirm its suitability.
But don’t go around changing your pet’s food every time it refuses to eat the same food. If you know they are fussy eaters, catering to their preferences may do them more disservice in the long run. Proper behavioral training is the solution to this issue.
How do manufacturers determine their prices?
Luckily for pet food, where people buy it out of necessity than as a luxury, it has not reached a stage where manufacturers are charging crazy prices to position themselves as a premium brand. Of course, some brands can give you more value in terms of the ingredients for the same price, and you will learn how to choose one in this article.
But to simplify things, a $20 bag of food will not be the same quality and as nutritious as a $60 bag of food, even if they have the exact nutritional levels.
Why? First up, just take protein, for example, I can take a whole bunch of hair, nails, and skin of animals, grind them up and make them into kibbles, and they will show a good level of protein, well, because they are protein.
Secondly, meat safe for human consumption will be more expensive than meat from ground-up male chicks and rejects.
As for the fancy list of supplements, herbs, and botanicals? You can probably ask the manufacturers how many milligrams are added in a kilo. The amount is almost insignificant.
What should I look for?
If I had your attention up until now, you’d care enough to ensure that the food that goes into their mouth comes from the same carcass that goes into ours.
- Fresh Ingredients: The definitions are confusing as there’s no regulation on the definition of the use of the word ‘Fresh,’ and every brand seems to be using that now. But if the price is in the medium range and up, it usually is dependable.
- Free-range and antibiotics free: Although livestock is generally not slaughtered after being administered with antibiotics, free-range livestock, especially from Australia and New Zealand, have very low chances of being contaminated with antibiotics.
- Suited for your pet’s activity level: If you aren’t working out, you don’t need protein shakes. If your pet is more laid back, giving him a high-protein diet might do him more harm than good. Remember, less is more.
Secondly, ask around if you have friends whose pets are on raw diets.
Proponents of raw diets have been touting the benefits of feeding animals like cats and dogs for a long time, and it has only gained popularity over the last several years. From experience and research, putting pets on exclusively raw diets from a young does produce sturdier bodies and fewer dental problems.
Let’s say you only have a small dog or cat under your care, commercial raw diets are generally affordable, and I strongly suggest this option if you can allocate a monthly budget of around $70 – $100 for their food.
Watch out for these traps.
- Sometimes bigger companies have shareholder’s stomachs to fill: And as a result, more money may go into the branding than the quality of the food, like buying Panadol versus any generic brand of paracetamol.
- Long ingredients lists: Apart from being available in such small quantities that may not provide significant results, more ingredients mean a higher possibility that something in the list is going to cause allergies.
- Grain-free: As long you’re buying kibbles, there will still be carbohydrates in the form of potatoes, lentils, peas, et cetera. It’s the only way to hold the kibbles together. Nothing wrong with grains or carbohydrates; just that increasingly, manufacturers are using the term grain free to charge a premium when the cost may potentially be the same.
Some brands have potatoes as their first ingredient, nothing wrong with that. Potatoes are 80% water, and some well-known brands are using dried potatoes so that they can appear lower down the ingredient list.
Take your money and get supplements instead
That’s right. Paired with the right food, supplements double up the benefits of proper nutrition and give the body the help it needs to heal and strengthen itself.
But nobody walks into GNC and grabs everything. For me, the gut is where I start because what isn’t absorbed is just expensive poop and piss. To enhance absorption, I recommend digestive enzymes as well as probiotics – minimum. Not all our food is absorbed, and diseases start in the gut (and it starts in the mind for humans). Enzymes help break down the food to increase the bio-availability of the nutrients, and the probiotics protect the gut from harmful bacteria and yeast, which it has the slightest chance, will cause your pet’s health to plunge into a vicious cycle.
As long as it works
At the end of the day, you’re a smart consumer. What really matters is that the food matches your primary objective. If you need convenient food with less hassle to provide them with the best benefits, then raw (and expensive) is the way to go. Contrary, finding a food that is agreeable to your pet’s immune system and taste buds relies on trial and error or with an exclusion diet plan.
Do you have any tips or tricks for fussy eaters or have issues you’d like some advice on? Leave your comment below!